School of Area Studies, History, Politics and Literature

Politics and International Relations

At Portsmouth, the study of politics and international relations explores power - who has it, and how they use it in national and global arenas. This means study and research in topics from globalisation to local governance, from economic integration to war and terrorism.

The academic staff of the department are all active in both research and teaching, giving students (at undergraduate and postgraduate levels) access to the most recent thought in this field as they learn. Doctoral study may be undertaken in many specialisms, including foreign and economic policy; the politics of Europe, the Middle East or Northern Ireland; the role of the military-industrial complex; and the structures and processes that underlie all these.

We have a strong record of success in securing funding from sources including NATO, the British Academy, the ESRC and the Nuffield Foundation for writing projects, international conferences and empirical studies. Our research also contributes to the work of the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR), a respected centre for research across the humanities and social sciences.

Politics and International Relations

Undergraduate study

How do governments get power, and how do they keep hold of it? Where does international terrorism come from? What do democracy, freedom and injustice mean to different groups of people?

Questions like these inform the study of politics and international relations that you will undertake as an undergraduate here at Portsmouth. Whether you specialise in one strand, take both together, or combine with a related subject, you will work toward a stronger understanding of the systems underpinning the political world we live in and their relation to human activity. The range of options available allows you to shape your course to your interests, with a central core that provides the knowledge, skills and political theory to ensure you get the most out of your study while you are here, and to support you in your career afterwards.

Your lecturers will be drawn from active researchers, all members of the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR), so that each unit of study is informed by the most up-to-date thinking available in the field.

MA and PhD Study

MA and PhD Study is offered on a full-time and a part-time basis. Past students have been financed through scholarships and self-funding; competitive bursaries are also available through the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR).

Master's programmes

The Politics and International Relations subject team co-ordinate two Master's programmes: MPA Master's in Public Administration.

PhD Supervision

The Politics and International Relations subject team currently offers PhD/MA supervision in a range of geographical and thematic areas. 

During the first phase of their studies, research students acquire and develop the empirical, analytical and theoretical tools that enable them to establish the foundations of their theses. In the second phase of their studies, students focus exclusively on their theses, taking advantage of specialist support and guidance is provided by their main supervisor and an additional supervisory team.  Students also participate in the thriving post-graduate research culture provided by CEISR, including a regular series of research lectures and seminars and post-graduate study sessions. Read more: PhD Study in History, Sociology and Politics.


Our widely published and cited researchers contribute to the multi-disciplinary centre CEISR. This centre provides a lively and challenging academic environment which has been rated 100 per cent world-leading or internationally excellent. We ensure that the research undertaken in this vein is fed back to undergraduate and postgraduate students by including reference to it in study programmes, and welcome applications for MA and PhD study into a range of topics.


We have, in recent years, secured funding for research into politics and international relations from institutions including:

  • AHRC
  • The British Academy
  • ESRC 
  • European Science Foundation
  • European Union
  • NATO
  • Norwegian Research Council
  • The Nuffield Foundation