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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

Recent years have witnessed a resurgence of interest in the historical study of international relations. IR scholars from different traditions have reconsidered the importance of thinking historically about the international system. At the same time, IR scholars have engaged in fruitful conversations with historians specialising in international or political thought. The dialogue between IR and History proved not only possible but often also desirable. 

The goal of this workshop is to create a space for conversation between historians and IR scholars at Cambridge. The workshop is open to scholars working on historical international relations, history of international thought and those interested in the historical development of ideas and practices in the international realm from an interdisciplinary viewpoint. The workshop meets three times per term. The line-up combines presentations by external speakers and pre-circulated papers by members of the group.

Conveners: Dr Or Rosenboim (JRF) and Dr Maja Spanu (JRF)