International security, political economy and foreign policy research

With close links to academic networks and practitioners internationally, research in the areas of international security, foreign policy, international political economy and global development complements the research strengths of the University. 

See below what individual members of staff are up to and feel free to get in touch with them to find out more about their research.

Areas of research expertise

  • NATO
  • Italian foreign policy
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • European Union, and EU-Africa relations
  • United Nations and Global Governance
  • Global Trade and Development Politics
  • US foreign policy in the Middle East
  • US-Iranian relations
  • Iranian foreign policy
  • Political identity in the Middle East
  • Populism in international relations

Current and recent research projects


Brexit is an area of great interest to us; however its repercussions are unknown. Current research, carried out by Dr Lorenzo Cladi, is looking at what Brexit means for the ability of the British Prime Minister to exercise prerogative powers. There is also ongoing research into what Brexit entails for NATO and the European security cooperation. Other research focuses on the application of concepts from international political economy to the Brexit case as well as the impact of Brexit on Anglo-Irish relations in particular.

Development politics and North-South relations

Research in this area looks into the politics behind the Global Sustainable Development Goals and other areas of global development governance. Professor Mary Farrell and Dr Patrick Holden are also investigating the power dynamics behind European Union relations with developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Dr Patrick Holden sits on the editorial board of the journal Mediterranean Politics.

United Nations and Global Governance

The UN is both a political actor and a policy entrepreneur in global affairs. This research area addresses questions around how the global community of sovereign states seeks to reach consensus on key areas of global policy (development, climate, environment, security, human rights) and assesses the UN’s capacity to manage the global order and implement key policies while balancing the inevitable conflicts and divisions among the member states with often very different national interests. Mary Farrell’s research looks at how UN politics shape prominent policies in areas such as development, inter-regional cooperation, and the changing global order. Piers Revell focuses on global environmental policies and the challenges of climate change

The EU and European politics

This topic addresses two areas that are inter-linked in complex ways: the politics and policies of European integration based on supranational and inter-governmental processes; and the dynamics of national politics in the individual European states. Particular areas of expertise include European (national) political systems, EU public policy, European governance, and EU-Africa relations.


NATO is the longest standing military alliance in the international system. Dr Lorenzo Cladi’s research in this area is focused in two principal areas: how NATO has adapted to the post-Cold War period and the durability of NATO as an alliance.

US foreign policy towards Iran

Research in this area looks at theoretical and sociological approaches to regime change. Another project draws on role theory to examine the impact of the Iranian Revolution on foreign policy and international order. A third project began with the purpose of examining contemporary Canadian-Iranian relations. To that end, Dr Christian Emery has recently held a visiting fellowship at the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. Dr David Brockington is an expert on US politics, and the institutions of national governance.

Italian foreign policy

Building on previous research which attempted to provide a theoretically informed explanation of Italian foreign policy in the post-Cold War period with specific attention being paid to a neoclassical realist approach, Dr Lorenzo Cladi is interested in looking at the drivers behind specific Italian military interventions. Specifically, the research aims at elucidating how drivers such as domestic politics, international constraints and international institutions play out to shape a middle power’s foreign policy.

Iran and the international

Research in this area explores the relationship between Iran and the international, focusing specifically on the Islamic Republic of Iran. Dr Shabnam Holliday has worked on the relationship between Iran and the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ and the role of the international in Iran’s own uprisings. Her current research looks at the relationship between domestic and international politics with regard to Iran-Israel relations and the Islamic Republic’s populist discourse. From spring 2018, Shabnam Holliday is the Director of the Modern Research project, British Institute of Persian Studies. This project brings together scholars working on Iran’s relationship with the internal across the modern period.

The School of Law, School of Law, Criminology and Government also hosts the Centre for Seapower and Strategy (CSS)

The University of Plymouth's Centre for Seapower and Strategy (CSS) undertakes valuable teaching and research in order to help inform and shape security policy decision-making and generate debate across the maritime domain.

Iran and the International: Iranian Foreign Policy

British Institute of Persian Studies workshop 

The workshop took place 8-10 June 2021 from 12:00-17:00

The workshop was part of the British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS) Modern Research Project 'Iran and the International in the Modern Period' which centres on the matter of Iran’s relationship with the international during the Qajar, Pahlavi and Islamic Republic periods.

Image by Frank Furness from Pixabay.

Image by Frank Furness from Pixabay.