Student Profiles

Paul Blamire

Start date:
October 2016
Research Topic:
Political philosophy
Research Supervisor:
Jenny Edkins
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Research Question: What are the implications of a Deleuzian ontology for the possibility of moving away from exclusionary ontological paradigms in IR?

My project aims to explore and develop new vocabularies and frameworks for moving away from problems of exclusion at the ontological level in IR. Dissatisfied with the exclusionary rigidity of the paradigmatic ontological frameworks in IR, I will engage with the possibility of complex frameworks and vocabularies, to move towards more appropriately complex, non-exclusionary, ontologies and vocabularies. Through this project I will prepare and establish new ground for the possibility of articulating hopes for non-exclusionary politics in non-exclusionary ways.

Abigail Blyth

Abigail Blyth
Start date:
September 2013
Research Topic:
What are British public attitudes towards secret intelligence?
Research Supervisor:
Dr James Vaughn and Dr Gary Rawnsley, Dr Claudia Hillebrand (currently on leave)
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My thesis seeks to explore how the British Intelligence Services seek to portray a particular image of themselves to the British public and how successful are they in this task? The Intelligence Services are something most people are aware of yet our understanding of them is limited due to the necessary secrecy which surrounds their work. However in a liberal democratic country, the Intelligence Services need public and governmental support for their work but public support can only occur through an understanding of them and trust that they are maintaining our national security whilst adhering to the law.

The project centres upon primary research to understand how the British Intelligence Services portray an image of themselves and the ways in which they achieve this, be it through the media, engagement with academia or fictitious portrayals.

Bleddyn Bowen

Start date:
October 2011
Research Topic:
Space Warfare and Spacepower Theory: The Continuation of Terran Politics by Other Means
Research Supervisor:
Dr Alistair Shepherd and Dr Kristan Stoddart
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Satellites and space systems have become integral to humanity’s modern way of life. Without satellites, modern practices of international finance, logistics, weather forecasting, emergency response, and infrastructural management would fall apart. It is no less true of how the most advanced states in the world engage in warfare and their top-level planning. In fact, the Space Age came about primarily as a result of the military necessities and advantages of developing missiles for nuclear weapons delivery and reconnaissance satellites. Space capabilities have proliferated across the world, and are becoming potentially lucrative targets in war planning involving modernised and industrialised states and economies, and not just among the nuclear powers. ‘Space warfare’ is something that is being anticipated among strategic actors across Earth. But what is space warfare? What’s it all about? Can Earth-bound theories and experiences help us approach the alien environment of Earth orbit? My thesis answers these questions through an engagement of classical strategic theory and philosophies of war in order to think critically about how humanity uses outer space for strategic functions, and how to deny those functions to perceived adversaries.

Matthew Campbell

Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Global Health Security
Research Supervisor:
Prof Colin McInnes & Dr Christian Enemark
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Few issues present as large a threat to humans as disease – from drug resistant strains of Tuberculosis, to highly contagious strains of Influenza and endemic levels of HIV/AIDS. Since the year 2000, Security has become an increasingly popular way to conceive of the health challenges facing political actors. My thesis examines how Global Health Security has changed since the financial crash of 2008. The project will examine the interactions between the various different actors engaged in Global Health, and assess whether states are still willing to invest in health security in an era of reduced spending. Three case studies are planned: Pandemic Influenza (a short-wave, acute event), HIV/AIDS (a long-wave, chronic event) and Tobacco related diseases (conditions that fall into a wider category of ‘lifestyle diseases’).

Lydia Cole

Lydia Cole
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Traumatic Memories and Memorialisation of Sexual Violence in the Aftermath Of Conflict
Research Supervisor:
Dr. Patrick Finney and Dr. Jenny Mathers
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Memorialisation has been conceptualised as a binary of remembering some dead whilst simultaneously forgetting others. My research utilises this conceptualisation, but challenges its limited application in order to theorise sexualised violence through memory. It further interrogates the subjectivities that are produced through this memorialisation. The project focuses on the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina using a range of empirical sources such as oral testimony, films and novels. Further this work responds to call to think beyond ‘security’. It will examine the insecurities of sexualised violence, whilst distancing itself from the language of security.

Danielle House

Danielle House
Start date:
October 2014
Research Topic:
Memorialising Missing Persons
Research Supervisor:
Professor Jenny Edkins, Doctor Lucy Taylor
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

The memorialisation of missing people has manifested itself in multiple ways in varying contexts. Building on the conclusions of memory and trauma studies to date, this research examines the particular experience of ‘enforced disappearance’ in the contemporary Mexican context.

Much literature on memory and memorialisation of desaparecidos has been retrospective and focussed on the politics of formalised memorials and museums, framed by the binary of remembering/forgetting. This research will focus on the informal, expressive and performative elements of memorialisation, and asks how memorialisation of disappeared people is unfolding in Mexico, how it relates to geographical space, and how it draws on or differs from the memory canon in Latin America.

Michelle Jones

Start date:
October 2011
Research Topic:
Strategic and psychological effects of the use of children as weapons of war and their impact on the conduct of British troops on operations
Research Supervisor:
Dr Christian Enemark and Dr Huw Bennett
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

British soldiers are increasingly being deployed to areas where the need to operate amongst the population is inevitable. The use of children as weapons in warfare is increasingly being resorted to by enemy forces to play on the Western concept and ideals of childhood, thus creating a significant impact both strategically and psychologically on British military personnel.

Carolin Kaltofen

Carolin Kaltofen
Start date:
October 2011
Research Topic:
Peace Between the Virtual and the Actual
Research Supervisor:
Dr. Alastair Finlan, Prof. Toni Erskine
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Central Research Question: How do peace simulations, as a form of peacemaking, produce and affect contemporary subjectivities of peace?

My research project concentrates on the impact of new technology, specifically the use of simulations, on peacemaking. Broadly speaking, this is an effort to come to terms with how the increased use of new technology shapes political thinking and concepts. The aim is to analyse and foster innovations in contemporary training for and practices of peacemaking.

Alistair Markland

Alistair Markland
Start date:
October 2014
Research Topic:
NGOs and the production of conflict knowledge
Research Supervisor:
Dr Inanna Hamati-Ataya and Dr Berit Bliesemann de Guevara
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My research looks into the role international non-governmental organisations and think-tanks play as producers of conflict-related knowledge. This thesis looks to build on a fledgling scholarly literature on the synthesis of knowledge production and the study of non-state actors, through focusing on two major Western NGOs: Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group. These research-based organisations are of particular interest due to their accumulation of an authoritative voice in the eyes of international policymakers, the media and within academic scholarship. Here, I am interested in critically analysing the methodologies they deploy in their research and reporting activities, and the political, bureaucratic, social and cultural imperatives which help structure their subsequent analyses and policy recommendations.

Desiree Poets

Desiree Poets
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Race and Ethnicity in Urban Territoriality: Brazil’s Quilombos and Indigenous Communities
Research Supervisor:
Dr Mustapha K. Pasha, Dr Lucy Taylor
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My work is concerned with the political and theoretical implications of social categorisations and self-identification in Brazilian quilombos and urban indigenous groups. The roles of blackness, indigeneity, race and ethnicity are explored in their political claims and projects, aiming to make a theoretical contribution to a better understanding of these concepts.

The fieldwork will be ethnographic, taking place mostly in the urban areas of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The aim is to combine both the contemporary empirical reality with a genealogical, historical narrative. This approach would allow for an account of the temporal and geographical continuities and discontinuities of these categories. This genealogy dates back to the beginning of discourses on Empire and difference, culminating in the reality observed today. Contextualising and historicising these categorisations in this way in combination with ethnography will allow for new insights into the lived experiences of indigenous and black peoples in Brazil. This includes how they relate to each other as well as to the wider Brazilian nation. In turn, it will enable an account of their positions not just in relation to whiteness. Instead, the aim is to expose how conceptualisations of indigeneity affect those on blackness and vice-versa.

Dyfan Powel

Start date:
September 2012
Research Topic:
Sub-state international democracy promotion
Research Supervisor:
Professor Milja Kurki & Dr. Elin Royles
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

In a period when the record of global democracy promotion has been less than optimistic, the project attempts to examine under-investigated global developments and their implications for democracy promotion. In doing so, it aims to contribute to deepening understanding and analysis of the international activism of sub-state governments thus making a particular contribution to the sub-state diplomacy literature. In evaluating the relative contribution that sub-state governments can make to democracy support vis-à-vis other actors, the research will also add to the emerging interest in new actors in democracy promotion.

John R.E. Wood

John Wood
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
The diplomacy and implications of the Hong Kong Handover and the Joint Declaration
Research Supervisor:
Professor Campbell Craig
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Building upon the continuing archival releases from the British FCO of material relating to the negotiations for the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from the UK to China, particularly between 1982-4, I plan to explore the implications of this event on the Cold War, Hong Kong and Chinese society, and the evolution of British and Chinese Foreign relations.

A particular interest of the project will be in assessing the influence of the people of Hong Kong on shaping their future settlement with China and their changing identity from British Nationals to Chinese Citizens.

Yvonne Kristin Rinkart

Yvonne Rinkart
Start date:
October 2012
Research Topic:
Politics of Space, Globalisation and Transportation, Interdisciplinary Approaches
Research Supervisor:
Professor Jenny Edkins, Dr. Inanna Hamati-Ataya
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My research is concerned with the politics of social space in the context of globalisation. It builds on the view that space is not simply a “container” for society, but rather it is shaped by social interaction. In particular, I investigate how social space can be conceptualised on a global scale, especially in the context of globalisation and the spatial transformations attributed to it.

I identify large international hub airports as crucial examples of these global social interactions. Understudied in International Politics despite their importance to global flows of people and commerce, airports make a crucial contribution to globalisation and they are a space where globalisation may become particularly apparent. They are also of great impact on all other spatial levels from the local to the national, and they may provide insights into the relation between those levels.

In my research, I am particularly interested in seeing how airports affect the people within them: I investigate how airports allow passengers to participate in globalisation. I ask how passengers interact with each other, and how they relate to the space of the airport. Lastly, I examine how passengers relate to the global level, to which they are admitted through the airport.

Ania Rolewska

Ania Rolewska
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
Ombudsmen, legitimacy and effectiveness in multi-level governance comtexts
Research Supervisor:
Dr Elin Royles , Dr Ann Sherlock
Supervising school:
Department of International Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

The ombudsman model has travelled extensively since its inception in Sweden at the beginning of the 19th century. Whilst the establishment of ombudsman schemes reflected similar constitutional innovation around the world, the factors specific to socio-political environment have implications for design and evolution of individual applications of the model, and as a result for how their effectiveness and legitimacy can be understood.

Research into the influence of socio-political environment within which ombudsmen operate has been lacking. Additionally, research to date has focused predominantly on individual ombudsmen and comparative approaches have been scarce.

This project will seek to address this situation by identifying and comparing the enivornmental factors that influence ombudsmen legitimacy and effectiveness. The concept of multi-level governance will provide a framework for comparison of these factors across sub-state, state and supra-state level.

The research questions could include: what specific factors influence on ombudsman design and practice in a given environment? To what extent are the initial roles and operating practices adapted? What similarities, differences and interdependencies can be observed across levels of governance? What are the forces for convergence and divergence and can either be interpreted as dominant? And what are the implications for how their effectiveness and legitimacy of ombudsman is understood?

With proliferation of sub-state Commissioner schemes and established ombudsmen on state level the devolved UK offers an enticing selection of possible case studies to consider in this investigation. The analysis of European Ombudsman will allow to further extend the comparison to supra-state dimension.

This pathway reflects the sophisticated and rigorous methodologies that have developed for investigating the political world, embedded within clear disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts.

The Politics and International Relations pathway’s considerable strength derives from its composition, building collaboration between the Department of International Politics in Aberystwyth and the Department of Politics and International Relations in Cardiff.  This combines complementary research strengths, including in

  • international Relations and political theory,
  • Welsh & UK politics and public policy,
  • security (including cyber and nuclear security), strategy and intelligence,
  • regional politics & security (Europe, Middle East, Russia, China, Africa, Latin America & US),
  • post-colonial politics,
  • gender politics,
  • environmental politics,
  • conflict and post-conflict challenges and
  • politics and law (domestic and international).

We are distinctive in the breadth of subject and methods expertise available and the extensive interdisciplinary approaches to which our students are exposed.

Students taking a 1+3 route follow a training Masters degree which incorporates both a subject-specific and a broader social science research training.  They benefit from the pathway’s vibrant research culture, including ongoing engagement with the core theoretical and methodological concerns of Politics and International Relations; the application of research methods explored through research seminars for staff and students; PhD seminar presentation to peers and to staff; visiting academic speakers; visiting practitioner speakers; exposure to interdisciplinary research in wider School and University lecture and seminar programmes; and, at Cardiff, a Postgraduate Research Skills Week in the second semester. The joint Annual Conference of doctoral work in progress is an opportunity to develop the application of research methods and capability in communicating research. Students also develop their capabilities through producing a student-led pathway blog.

Our students go on to postdoctoral research or lecturing posts throughout the UK and all over the world; or use their social science training to pursue careers beyond academia: in constitutional law, as special advisors to the Welsh Government, in departments of the UK civil service (such as the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence), in non-governmental organizations in the UK and in other countries, with the Canadian government and as parliamentary researchers in the UK and elsewhere.