GEM PhD School

Globalisation, Europe & Multilateralism

Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate

Academic Degrees & Titles

BA (Hons) MA (Oxon), MA (Warwick), PhD (Aberystwyth), PGCAPP (Exeter), FHEA

Assistant Professor of International Security 


  • Deputy Director of PAIS Research Committee (REF impact)
  • Director of the MA in International Relations degree programme
  • Director of PO926 International Relations Theory (MA)
  • Co-organiser of PAIS seminar series


His book Border Politics has won the Gold Award of the Association of Borderlands Studies 2011 book competition. The award will be presented at the 2012 ABS conference in Houston, Texas.

Research Area(s)

Critical IR theory; security studies; geopolitics; poststructural approaches to sovereignty, subjectivity, and spatio-temporal dimensions of contemporary political life; and the geo- and bio- politics of homeland security, counter-terrorism and bordering practices.

Most of my research to-date has focused on the changing nature of borders in global politics, and the conceptual problems this poses for theorists of International Relations. I take 'the border' as a site for investigating practices relating to security, sovereignty, and subjectivity. In general terms, I explore the insights and limitations of critical, interpretive, and non-foundational theories in the light of these themes. 

Specific Research Interest(s)

Currently, I am developing two major research projects. The first, 'Marginal Lives', seeks to undertake a detailed study of the impact of European border security policies and practices on different populations at various border sites dispersed globally. The second, 'The Politics of Resilience', analyses critical infrastructure protection particularly in the context of UK security policy.


Dr Vaughan-Williams will be on Research Leave during Term 2 of the 2010-11 academic year.  

2011-12: PO926 International Relations Theory (MA)

Suggested Fields of Inquiry

I welcome PhD applications in three main areas: 1) critical international theory and security; 2) poststructural/IPS approaches to sovereignty, subjectivity, and spatio-temporal dimensions of contemporary political life; and 3) the geo- and bio- politics of homeland security, counter-terrorism, resilience, critical infrastructure and bordering practices (especially in UK, EU, and US contexts). 

Overview of Publications



Border Politics: The Limits of Sovereign Power (Edinburgh and New York: Edinburgh and Columbia University Press, 2009, 2012). Winner of the Gold Award of the Association of Borderlands Studies' Past Presidents' Book competition 2011. Amazon link.


Critical Security Studies: An Introduction, co-authored with Columba Peoples (London and New York: Routledge, 2010). Amazon link


Critical Theorists and International Relations, co-edited with Jenny Edkins (London and New York: Routledge, 2009). Amazon link.

Terrorism and the Politics of Response, co-edited with Angharad Closs Stephens (London and New York: Routledge, 2008, 2010). Amazon link


Peer-reviewed journal articles 

'Crisis Is Governance: Sub-Prime, the Traumatic Event, and Bare Life' (with James Brassett), Global Society, (forthcoming) 

'There's More to Life than Biopolitics: Critical Infrastructure, Resilience Planning, and Molecular Security' (with Tom Lundborg), International Political Sociology, (forthcoming, 2011)

‘The UK Border Security Continuum: Virtual Biopolitics and the Simulation of the Sovereign Ban’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 28 (November, 2010), pp.1071-1083 

‘The Generalised Biopolitical Border? Re-conceptualising the Limits of Sovereign Power’, Review of International Studies, 35(4), (October, 2009), pp.729-749 

‘Borders, Territory, Law’, International Political Sociology 4(2) (December, 2008), pp. 322-338 

‘Borderwork Beyond Inside/Outside? Frontex, the Citizen-Detective and the War on Terror’, Space and Polity, 12(1), (April, 2008), pp.63-79 

‘The Shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes: New Border Politics?’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 32(2), (April-June 2007), pp. 177-195 

‘Beyond a Cosmopolitan Ideal: the Politics of Singularity’, International Politics, 44(1) (January 2007), pp.107-124 

‘Towards a Problematisation of the Problematisations that Reduce Northern Ireland to a Problem’, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 9(4) (December 2006), pp.513-526 

‘International Relations and the ‘Problem of History’’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 34(1), (August 2005), pp.115-136 

'Protesting Against Citizenship’, Citizenship Studies, 9(2), (May 2005), pp.167-179 


Book chapters and other publications

'The Border’, in S. Legg (Ed) Geographies of the Nomos: Schmitt, Spatiality, and Sovereignty (London and New York: Routledge, 2011). 

'Politics Of/On the Line', part of a 'Critical Exchange' on R.B.J. Walker’s After the Globe, Before the World. With Jens Bartelson, James Brassett, Costas Constantinou, Sergei Prozorov, Angharad Closs Stephens, Tom Lundborg, and R.B.J. Walker. Contemporary Political Theory 10(2) (May 2011), pp. 286-310.

'Off-Shore Biopolitical Border Security: The EU's Global Response to Migration, Piracy, and 'Risky' Subjects', in L. Bialasiewicz (ed), EU Geopolitics and the Transformation of European Space, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011). 

(with James Brassett) 'Crisis is Governance: Sub-Prime, the Traumatic Event, and Bare Life', CSGR Working Paper 268/10 (October 2010) 

(with Noel Parker et al) ‘Lines in the Sand? An Agenda for Critical Border Studies’, Geopolitics, 14(3) (2009), pp. 582-587 

‘Portraits of War’, Review of International Studies 35(4), (October, 2009), pp. 874-875 

‘Introduction’ (with Jenny Edkins) in Critical Theorists and International Relations (London and New York: Routledge, 2009), pp. 1-6. 

‘Giorgio Agamben’, in Critical Theorists and International Relations (London and New York: Routledge, 2009), pp. 19-30. 

Review of J. Hodge, Derrida On Time, Kantian Review, 14(1) (2009), pp. 138-141 

‘Introduction: London, Time, Terror’ (with Angharad Closs Stephens) in Terrorism and the Politics of Response (London and New York: Routledge, 2008), pp. 1-15. 


Work in progress 

'Governing Traumatic Events', Special Issue of Alternatives, Guest Editors: James Brassett and Nick Vaughan-Williams. Proposal accepted and papers in progress.

'Performative Ecologies of Resilience and Trauma' (with James Brassett). Journal article in preparation.

''Muscular Liberalism'': An Intersectional Account' (with Victoria Basham). Journal article under review.

'Discourse Analysis and Materiality in International Relations’ (with Tom Lundborg). Journal article under review (revise and resubmit). 

‘Lines in the Sand? The Politics of Border Imaginaries’, Special Issue of Geopolitics, Guest Editors: Noel Parker and Nick Vaughan-Williams. Papers submitted and under review. 

‘Borders, Spatial Imaginaries, and the Contemporary Global Nomos: The Contested Legacy of Carl Schmitt for Critical Border Studies’ (with Claudio Minca) for Special Issue of Geopolitics, Ed. N. Parker and N. Vaughan-Williams. Journal article under review (revise and resubmit).

Routledge Major Works: Critical Security Studies (4 Vols), (with Columba Peoples). Under contract and in preparation.

'R.B.J. Walker, Inside/outside: International Relations as Political Theory' (with Tom Lundborg), book chapter for C. Sylvest et al Classics of International Relations (forthcoming 2012). In preparation.