Politics and International Relations (Cornwall)

Politics and International Relations programmes in Cornwall are part of a world-class research institution. We have a very low student-staff ratio, but very high student satisfaction.

Politics in Cornwall is characterised by its focus on some of the biggest political challenges facing the world today such as inequality, climate change, the global financial crisis, conflict, and the depletion of natural resources, public disillusionment with politics, and the changing balance in world power.

We believe that politics shouldn’t just be an intellectual exercise; it’s the means by which people change the world. So, although we’ll teach you about political systems and theories, we’ll apply these to world events and the major issues setting the modern political agenda.

Our Penryn Campus, and the Politics department in particular, offers a welcoming atmosphere where it’s easy to make new friends and where staff and students know each other well. The stunning campus buildings offer the very best in learning and teaching facilities, with lecture theatres and seminar rooms equipped with the latest technologies. The campus is shared with University College Falmouth which creates a vibrant mixture of students from science, engineering, humanities and arts backgrounds, both on campus and in the local area.

As our teaching is inspired by our research, you’ll benefit from direct access to the latest thinking. Teaching comprises interactive lectures, small group seminars, visiting practitioners, field trips, simulations, and engagement with local issues and communities. You’ll also acquire research skills valued by employers and will have the opportunity to apply them in a consultancy role for an external organisation. As well as traditional academic essays, we use career-relevant assessments including portfolios, reports, video, online communications and presentations.

We’ll take you out of the classroom to get a bigger perspective. Whether you’re observing a session of the United Nations in New York, talking to local veterans about the legacies of war, or providing consultancy for a political organisation in Cornwall, you’ll have opportunities to experience how politics operates in practice.

We believe our field work and work experience opportunities, combined with what we teach and how we teach it, develop insight and provide you with relevant skills and experience sought by employers. Field work varies from one-day trips in Cornwall to an overseas field course in North America. You can also choose to undertake a placement with an employer, or you may opt for an internship at Westminster or an MP’s constituency office.

Our research strongly influences the course content of our undergraduate programmes, and students will benefit by being taught by staff who are engaged in world-leading research. We offer a challenging but friendly and supportive environment in which to pursue your own research interests.

Our research is funded by leading research councils and is used by governments and networks around the world. We are currently involved in four major international research projects funded by UK research councils and the European Commission. Members of staff have been engaged in international collaborative research on electoral democracy, citizenship and identity, radicalisation, cities in conflict, ethical statecraft, global governance and regulatory policy.

Our main research strengths lie in public policy and administration, international relations, Middle East politics, political theory and European and comparative politics. All our full-time members of staff are research active with their work published in highly ranked international journals and by major academic and university presses such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Cornell and Paris.

Our core specialisms include:

    Politics of identity
    Security studies
    Feminist International Relations / gender and identity
    Social movements / protest
    Political participation and elections
    Environmental politics
    Militarism
    Regional economic development
    Chinese politics
    The European Union
    Political psychology
    Pro-environmental behaviour change
    The public policy process
    Foreign policy

Dr Owen Thomas

Owen is our Director of Admissions for Politics and International Relations (Penryn). His primary research interests lie in International Relations, British Foreign Policy and Security Studies. He recently completed an ESRC funded research project examining the relationship between openness, secrecy and security in the 2003 Iraq War and subsequent public enquiries, including the recent ‘Chilcot’ Iraq enquiry. The paper from this project can be found here.
Learn more about Owen by visiting his staff profile

Professor Dan Stevens

Dan’s main interests are in mass political behaviour in the United States and Britain. He looks at the major influences on political attitudes and behaviour, such as the economy, political advertising, and the news media. He has recently published a piece of research on security politics: Everyday Security Threats: perceptions, experiences, and consequences.
Learn more about Dan by visiting his staff profile

Professor Clare Saunders

Clare’s main research interests are social movements / protest and environmental politics. Her research on social movements has been particularly focused on environmental and global justice movements, although she has recently been engaged in a pan-European study of protest on a range of issues. Along with fellow Politics Penryn academic, Dr David Benson, Clare is the co-author of the leading Environmental Politics text book used at universities throughout the world: Politics and the Environment: from theory to practice.
Learn more about Clare by visiting her staff profile

Dr David Benson

David is a Senior Lecturer in the department. He is an interdicsiplinary social scientist with a background in both political and environmental sciences. His main areas of research are environmental politics, policy and governance in different national contexts. Along with fellow Politics Penryn academic, Professor Clare Saunders, David is the co-author of the leading Environmental Politics text book used at universities throughout the world: Politics and the Environment: from theory to practice.
Learn more about David by visiting his staff profile

Dr Sarah Bulmer

Sarah works in the field of Critical Military Studies and International Relations. Her research is deeply interdisciplinary, engaging with political geography, queer theory, sociology and history. She teaches modules on humanitarian intervention and the politics of war, and is currently collaborating with Godfrey Marinigira at University of Western Cape on ex-combatants and veterans issues in UK and Africa.
Learn more about Sarah by visiting her staff profile

Dr Cristiana Olcese

Cristiana's research interests lie at the intersection between culture and social movements, encompassing issues of identity, inequality, aesthetics, citizenship, and social change in urban and rural settings. Her current work looks at social movements' innovative practices of change beyond mobilization in Europe and Latin America.  She uses a range of methodologies in her research, from ethnography and discourse analysis to social survey and web content analysis.
Learn more about Cristiana by visiting her staff profile

Dr Karen Scott

Karen is a social scientist interested in the politics of knowledge, evidence and public policy. Her main focus at the moment is on the current international political and policy interest in measuring wellbeing and how this relates to sustainable development issues. She is also researching how to improve evidence for policy evaluation in environmental policy areas, working with government departments and agencies such as Defra; the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy; the Food Standards Agency and the Environment Agency.
Learn more about Karen by visiting her staff profile 

Dr Joanie Willett

Joanie’s teaching, research, and publishing specialism is in identity politics; she is particularly interested in the complex inter-relationship between identity, the economy, and the environment. A recent report by Joanie on council engagement led to the Association for Local Democracy (ALDA based in Brussels) inviting her to Brussels to talk about using digital technologies to improve young people’s participation in politics. She presented her work at a meeting in the Committee of the Regions.
Learn more about Joanie by visiting her staff profile 

The student-run Politics Society offers the chance to meet up with other politics students through its wide variety of activities. The Society has organised lectures and visits to Parliament and to local government institutions as well as other academic activities and has a full programme of social events.

Open Days, campus tours and virtual tours

If you are interested in studying Politics and International Relations at our Penryn Campus, Cornwall, we would encourage you to visit the campus and offer a number of ways in which you can do this.

You can check the accessibility of our buildings on the DisabledGo website.

Open Days

Our Open Days are a great way to find out more about the University and decide whether Exeter is the right choice for you. To find out more about our next events visit our Open Days page

Offer Holder Visit Days

If you’ve already applied to Exeter and you are offered a place, you’ll be invited to an Offer Holder Visit Day during the spring term. Offer holders can book a place on one of our Offer Holder Visit Days online using your UCAS id number and date of birth.

Campus tours

Campus tours run regularly during term-time, with a limited number available outside of these dates. To find out more visit our campus tours page.

Virtual tours

You can also view the campus via our virtual tours.

Contact us

For more information about the opportunities to visit the University please contact the Student Recruitment Office.

Phone: +44 (0)1326 371801
WebEnquire online

Meet our students

student profile

Studying Politics and IR at the Penryn Campus, Cornwall

Watch our video to learn more about our exciting research-driven programmes.

US Field Trip

Optional field trip to the United States where you’ll gain insight into the latest global issues and a first-hand perspective on the American political system.

Politics and International Relations in Cornwall flyer

Download here