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Research and PhD programmes

Politics and History at Brunel is a thriving, interdisciplinary community of scholars in the College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences, with 25 full-time academic faculty as well as a number of associated colleagues, including Honorary Fellows and postgraduate researchers. We engage in world-leading research across the disciplines of politics and history: in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), 64% of our research was rated as world leading or internationally excellent.

Politics and History at Brunel has established a substantial body of cutting-edge research across both subject areas. Six broad themes provide the foundation on which much of this research can be categorized.

  • Modern and Contemporary History, with special focus on the rise and fall of empires, regimes, nations and states
  • The political structures and processes of advanced capitalist states, especially Britain, the US, Asia, countries within the EU, and the EU itself
  • The history of political thought, with special interest in theories of violence and revolution
  • Intelligence and Security Studies, with a key focus on the institutions and processes of intelligence gathering
  • War and Conflict, including military history from the ancient to the modern period, counterinsurgency, peace-building, and border conflict
  • International relations, including specialisms in the modern Middle East and the politics of intervention

Across these six themes we place great value on projects which are investigative and theoretical, but which also stress the usefulness and impact of this research to the wider non-academic community. The impact of our research is achieved through extensive networks involving other researchers and scholars, engagement with civil society actors and advice to the policy-making community. Members of staff also serve on the councils of scholarly bodies and act as panel members for a range of funding bodies, including the ESRC, AHRC, British Academy and Royal Historical Society.

The Department offers an inclusive research culture that brings together academic staff, postgraduate research students and taught students in lecture series, workshops and international conferences. Our undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes are closely aligned with staff members’ research expertise.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Politics and History is by its very nature an inherently interdisciplinary Department. Working across disciplines is a central part of our research strategy and helps us to produce innovative and outstanding research. This is also achieved through, firstly, a range of interdisciplinary Research Centre and Research Groups, and, secondly, through collaboration with scholars at other Universities nationally and internationally, and with other organisations.

Research Centres

The College hosts two research centres:-

Research Groups

These groups sit within the research centres:-

Current collaborations

  • Perceptions of Corruption in France: work with scholars from Royal Holloway and Kings College
  • Euroregion ‘Spree-Neisse-Bober/Sprewa-Nysa-Bobr’ and Euroregion ‘Pro Europa Viadrina’ on cross-border politics
  • The Rift Valley Institute, Kenya, on the Somali factor in urban Kenya.
  • The Army Records Society
  • The Collaborative Research in Political Information Transmission (CROP-IT) project, Kobe University
  • The Michael Nicholson Centre for Conflict and Cooperation, University of Essex
  • The Scuola internazionale di studi gramsciani
  • The Electoral Commission, for ongoing work on attitudes of electoral agents in the UK and participants in the EU Referendum 

These centres, groups and networks promote international, interdisciplinary and high impact research by acting as key points of contact between academics, practitioners and the wider community, organizing major events, and hosting associated researchers.

Department staff are also engaged in editorial roles on a large number of international journals, including Historical Materialism, Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, International Gramsci Journal, British Journal of Military History, Décalages.

Postgraduate Research

You are very welcome to undertake your PhD or MPhil in one of our research areas and work alongside our researchers. As a research student you'll benefit from the latest work by internationally-renowned academics and the support of our Graduate School. Many of our research initiatives involve successful collaborations with industry, the public sector, business and government, both in the UK and overseas. We have many funded and non-funded research degree opportunities available. For more information, visit our Research Degrees homepage

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