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British and US foreign policy has been increasingly conducted within the context of theoretical work on foreign and security policy, on which there is a standing PhD workshop. Recent appointments have brought particular strengths on the decision-making of military interventions, and on civil-military relations.

In terms of political theory and intellectual history the Department has established a new Contemporary Political Thought Seminar in conjunction with the Philosophy Faculty to go alongside the established Seminar in the History of Political Thought run in conjunction with the History Faculty.  It participates in the Cambridge Centre of Political Thought.  (

International law and mediation has become a significant strength, including a major externally funded project on Legal Tools of Peace-making, conducted in collaboration with the UN Secretariat and the Carnegie Project on Settling Self-determination Conflicts. There are also links to the Lauterpacht Centre in the Law Faculty.

The study of security networks, within and across international organisations, part of this involving the European Union and its Member States, is a key area of specialism for POLIS. It also overlaps increasingly with a wider set of activities in comparative politics, political economy and regional international relations. Our links with the Centres within the larger Department of POLIS strengthen this cluster.

Working with the Centre of Development Studies has strengthened development and political economy, especially on Africa where research in the Centre coincides with the interests of several permanent members of POLIS, a number of post-doctoral fellows and of PhD students. With the Centre of African Studies, they have coordinated a weekly research seminar, revolving termly around a particular theme, as well as an Africa research group.

International Relations & History Working Group

Formed in 2016, the Cambridge IR & History Working Group provides a forum for the production and discussion of scholarship located at the intersection of the 'historical turn in IR' and the University of Cambridge's traditional strengths in the history of political thought and international/imperial/global history. The remit of the group is broad, covering a variety of different approaches and methodologies, including historical sociology, theoretically informed historical scholarship, the history of international political thought, and the history of international law. While members of the group work across a wide range of regions and historical periods, we have particular strengths in the study of empires, hierarchies, and international orders. The Working Group holds a regular seminar series during term time, and an annual conference in May. Other activities involve book launches and panels in major IR conferences.