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As part of the School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences, Politics and International Studies researchers continue to engage in critical issues affecting our political and social environments.

Conflict, conflict transformation, nationalism, comparative politics, and identity politics are core research themes.

Our research falls into the following main topics:

  • Identity politics: nationalist studies, gender politics, youth politics
  • Memory politics: commemoration and dealing with the past in societies transitioning from conflict
  • Comparative politics: democracy and political parties in Africa, Europe and Latin America
  • Urban politics: the political and social impacts of urban planning and regeneration
  • Political violence and terrorism studies

Community Engagement

Our research on political parties and social movements has been recognised by politicians and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). We have given evidence to government and continue to collaborate with grassroots organisations and the third sector.

One current research project (Historical Urbanism) is officially partnered with Derry City and Strabane District Council and the Northern Ireland Assembly (NIA) Executive Office. Our research will be used in the future for planning policies and as part of the planning and design of capital investment through the Urban Villages Initiative programme in Derry/Londonderry.

The ‘Community-led Tourism: Conflict, Peace and Change’ is partnered with a range of community organisations and the (NIA) Executive Office through the Urban Villages Initiative across Belfast and Derry/Londonderry.

Peace and Conflict

Our research on peace and conflict draws directly upon the Northern Irish experience of violence and division. Our research in this area is recognised internationally as critical for an understanding of the dynamics of conflict and change.

We lead the field in research on gender and ethnic conflict; we have questioned the fundamental tenets of peace building.

Until now, no one has explored the intersections of memory, tourism and urban planning. We have mapped the intersections between party politics and commemoration of the violent pasts. We have developed new techniques to study comparative politics.


We are members of a number of professional politics, international studies and conflict and peace related organizations.

Researchers within the team have collaborated with the Northern Ireland Youth Forum, European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO), IDES (Argentina), COMFAMA (Colombia), the British Council (Balkan team), Belfast Exposed Gallery, Theatre Pluck, the Focus Identity Trust, Gender Identity Ireland, and the Rainbow Project.

We enjoy collaborative relationships with many international universities including, the University of British Columbia, Universidad EAFIT, Bangor University, Trinity College Dublin and the University of Hong Kong.

We have collaborated with, among others Urban Villages Initiative, Belfast City Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council Donegal County Council; the Nerve Centre; Inner City Trust the National Trust; the Northern Ireland Assembly Executive; Tower Museum; Free Derry Museum; Siege Museum; the British Council, Harvard University; University of New Brunswick; International Centre for Local and Regional Development; the National University of Ireland, Maynooth; and the Ulster Museum in preparing exhibitions. Our team memberships include the Community Relations Council; the Ulster Museum; the Linenhall Library; and Healing Through Remembering.

Funding secured from: UK Research Councils including ESRC, AHRC and British Academy, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Ireland), Horizon 2020 and other charitable, private sector and philanthropic organisations.


Researchers in Politics and International Studies continue to publish books with prestigious publishing houses including Manchester University Press; Oxford University Press; Palgrave and Routledge among others.

Our work has been published in the discipline’s top peer-reviewed journals, including Political Studies; the British Journal of Politics and International Relations; Politics; Terrorism & Political Violence; Men and Masculinities.

Recent publications include:

Ashe, F. (2019) 'Sexuality and Gender Identity in Transitional Societies: Peacebuilding and Counterhegemonic Politics', International Journal of Transitional Justice, 13, (3) 119-140.

Ashe, F. (2019) Gender, Nationalism and Conflict Transformation: New Themes and Old Problems in Northern Ireland Politics (London: Routledge).

Braniff, M., Tonge, J., Whiting, S., McAuley, J. and Hennessey, T. (2019) The Ulster Unionist Party: Country before Party?, Oxford University Press

Tonge, J., Braniff, M., Hennessey, T., McAuley, J. and Whiting, M. (2014), The Democratic Unionist Party: From Protest to Power. Oxford University Press.

Brown, K and Grant A. (2016), A Lens Over Conflicted Memory: Surveying ‘Troubles’ Commemoration in Northern Ireland, Irish Political Studies. 31, 1:. 139-162

Brown (2019) Political commemoration and peacebuilding in ethno-national settings: the risk and utility of partisan memory, Peacebuilding, 7:1, 51-70,

Kelly, G. (2020) 'Researching Over-Researched Societies' in Mac Ginty, R., Brett, R. & Vogel, B. (Eds), The Companion to Peace and Conflict Fieldwork,. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Kelly, G. (2020). 'Reconciliation and Peacebuilding' in Richmond, O.P. and Visoka, G. (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Peacebuilding, Statebuilding, and Peace Formation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McGrattan, C. (2016) The Politics of Trauma and Peace-Building: Lessons from Northern Ireland, Routledge,

McGrattan, C. and Williams, S. (2017) 'Devolution and identity: Multidirectionality in ‘Welshness’ and ‘Northern Irishness’, Regional & Federal Studies, Vol. 26(4), pp. 465-482.

Mac Giollabhuí, S. (2019) “How does an opposition party become successful in a dominant party system? The case of South Africa”, African Affairs, Vol. 117, No. 470. Mac Giollabhuí, S. (2016) “Battleground: Candidate Selection and Violence in Africa’s Dominant Political Parties” in Democratization. 25, No. 6.