Skip to main content

Hear from our graduates

Barbara Renzi

Shayler Foundation

I volunteer for the Shayler Foundation, a recently established international centre for the protection of women’s human rights, with the central aim to deliver resources and support to women and families in troubled countries. I am a member of the Board of Trustees and, particularly, I take care of the public relations. Among various tasks, I regularly update our Facebook profile and look for news on women around the world. I am directing a documentary on women and mothers, which will also be used to raise awareness of the work of the foundation. It is extremely fulfilling and fantastic to work with people based in different counties, who share the same ideals and want to make a difference.

Dr Jessie Blackbourn

Lecturer, School of English Sociology Politics and Contemporary History, University of Salford

Having completed a BA (Hons) in Politics in 2002 and an MA in Irish Politics in 2004 I returned to the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy in 2006 to commence my PhD under the supervision of Professor Richard English and Dr Margaret O’Callaghan. My thesis, entitled The Northern Ireland Peace Process and the Post-9/11 Terrorism Crisis examined the contrasting approach that the British government took to international terrorism and terrorism related to the conflict in Northern Ireland in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the USA. I am currently working on converting my thesis into a monograph.

In 2010 I was appointed as Lecturer in Terrorism and Security Studies at the University of Salford where I teach on the MA programme in Terrorism and Security. My time at Queen’s University Belfast, in particular the vibrant research community within the School’s Irish Politics Research Cluster, the teaching experience I gained and the excellent supervision which I received, contributed greatly in preparing me for an academic career.

Dr Guido Muentel

Research and Higher Education at the Foreign Office in Berlin

In 2003 I joined the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast as a doctoral student. Supported by a university full scholarship, I carried out my research on the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and a possible Europeanisation of environmental governance in this region, i.e. the transformation and adaptation to a European model of environmental institutions, decision-making processes and policies. This I assumed to be a consequence of wide-ranging cooperation in this field between the Kaliningrad region and its European partners.

Having accepted a full-time position in Germany’s Federal Foreign Office in May 2006, it took me another four years to complete the thesis and to receive the doctoral degree from Queen’s. Currently I am desk officer for Research and Higher Education at the Foreign Office in Berlin, promoting German universities’ internationalisation and world-wide student exchange.

The time spent at Queen’s and the support offered there allowed me not only to work on my research project but to get to know and practice other tasks of the academic profession too, like undergraduate teaching, the attendance and organisation of conferences and scholarly networks, as well as the publishing of research results. That includes a co-edited conference volume on international cooperation and Europeanisation of the Kaliningrad region in different policy areas. My years in Belfast were therefore an all-embracing experience of lasting impact also on my later diplomatic career.

Dr Sara McQuaid

Assistant Adjunct Professor in British and Irish Politics, History and Society at the University of Århus, Denmark

I have recently been appointed as Assistant Adjunct Professor in British and Irish Politics, History and Society at the University of Århus, Denmark. My doctoral thesis, 'Ideas as Practicalities’ (Queen's University Belfast 2009), is a textual analysis which explores how the discourses of politics in Northern Ireland have been constructed and modified over the last thirty years. It combines an understanding of the layered meanings of political language with a historical contextualization, which permit an imaginative revision of the public rhetoric and official interpretation of the Northern Ireland problem. My current research is a comparative study of how and to what extent trans-national Councils like the British-Irish Council and the Nordic Council can act as conduits between the local, the national and the supranational - not only in creatively adapting the nation-state model to better accommodate the multilayered and composite identities of its citizens - but also in providing launch sites for more normative international activities for the member-states. By making it a comparative study, I aim to explore the specific interplay between the structural; political and cultural dimensions of these realms. Between graduating from the QUB School of Politics, Philosophy and International Studies in 1999 and concurrently while writing my PhD, I have reported on Northern Ireland current affairs for the Danish Broadcasting Corporation. My years at Queen’s and especially the indefatigable support and excellent guidance from my supervisor, Richard English, have prepared me perfectly for the position I am now in.

Damien Luther

After many years of being out of university I decided to go back and finish my bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut .  I was awarded the highest honor, Summa cum Laude and knew that there was nothing I wanted to do more than pursue a higher degree.  I decided to apply to the Political Philosophy program at Queen’s University because of my interest in political theory and in attaining a degree overseas.  The program turned out to be everything I was looking for.  It was challenging, thought provoking, and exposed me to many new areas of theory.  The faculty was always helpful, approachable, knowledgeable, and professional.  The dissertation guidance and supervision far exceeded my expectations.  My Master’s dissertation provides a critical analysis of terrorism, its justifications, and the moral implications of such acts and justifications.  The consistency and exceptional quality of the School of Politics , International Studies, and Philosophy made it my first choice when applying to PhD programs.  I am happy and pleased to say that I will be continuing on at Queen’s University to further my research to the level of PhD.  My project will address whether just war theory can account for and address the moral challenges posed by asymmetrical warfare and whether a new understanding of war may be necessary if we are to understand the wars of ‘today.’ 

Dr. Erhan Içener

Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Bursa Orhangazi University
Dr. Içener holds MSSc (2003) and PhD degrees (2007) from Queen's University Belfast - School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy. His thesis, supervised by Dr. David Phinnemore, analysed the factors influencing the EU's key decisions on Romania and Turkey's integration with the European Union and provides a detailed empirical and theoretical study of the changing dynamics of EU enlargement. His research is primarily on EU enlargement, EU external relations, Turkey and Romania's integration with the EU and North Cyprus - EU relations. He has published in Perspectives on European Politics and Society, Southeast European and Black Sea Studies and Insight Turkey. Following his graduation, Dr. Içener started to work in the Department of International Relations at the Eastern Mediterranean University (North Cyprus) where he taught Political History of Europe (post-1945), Comparative Politics of Europe, European Integration, and EU Enlargement and the Wider Europe. After working in North Cyprus for 3.5 years, he moved to the Bursa Orhangazi University (Turkey) in 2012 as the founding Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations.

"During my studies at QUB, everybody from secretaries to the head of school was extremely friendly and helpful. A pleasant working and research environment was created with the support of academic staff and local and international PhD students. Academic supervision was excellent. I am proud of being a QUB graduate and I recommend QUB School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy to every student who is interested in high quality education!"

Tom Loonam

PhD Research Studentship - Queens University Belfast

I started at Queen’s in 2006 as a mature student, a father of two young daughters, embarking upon a single honours degree in Philosophy. I really enjoyed the undergraduate experience where I had the chance to meet lots of interesting people and make many new friends. Learning alongside like-minded people and being taught by enthusiastic, well informed staff, convinced me to pursue my studies further, to an MA in Political Philosophy. This full-time course I have found to be both challenging and extremely rewarding. In the school of Politics , International Studies and Philosophy, I have been given the opportunity and support to study a wide range of fascinating topics. My MA Dissertation provides a critical interpretation of Liberal ‘Theories of Justice’ in relation to the rights and equality of people with mental disabilities. During this time I have gained knowledge and skills at Queen’s which have enabled me to overcome difficulties and ultimately to see the world in a different way. I feel that my input has always been valued and I have been very fortunate to secure a PhD Research Studentship to further my studies to PhD level. My project relates to Ethical Discourse and Political Philosophy, where my specific interests are to evaluate the role and importance of self-determination in the lives of people with mental disabilities. I am really proud and looking forward to contributing to the school over the next three years, while continuing to work as part of an exceptional team of individuals.

Kathleen E. Callaghy

Intern, Center for Preventive Action, Council on Foreign Relations

After completing a BA in Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College in the United States, Kathleen came to Queen's to complete a taught Masters in Comparative Ethnic Conflict. Under the supervision of Professor Richard English, she completed a thesis on what explains the persistence of sectarianism in Northern Ireland in the ten years since the Good Friday Agreement. While in Belfast, she interned at Healing Through Remembering (HTR), a cross-community group seeking to determine how to cope with the legacy of the conflict in and about Northern Ireland. Kathleen moved to Washington, DC, in 2009 and currently interns at the Council on Foreign Relations, a prestigious DC think tank, in the organization’s  Center for Preventive Action (CPA). CPA "seeks to help prevent, defuse, or resolve deadly conflicts around the world and to expand the body of knowledge on conflict prevention." Her main research interests comprise grievance, trauma, post-conflict recovery and transitional justice. To this day, her favorite memories of Queen’s remain her fellow conflict students, friends at the QUB Dragonslayers, and practices with the Queen’s Aikido Club.

Dr Roger Mac Ginty

Reader, School of International Relations, University of St Andrews

Roger Mac Ginty is a Reader at the School of International Relations and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University Andrews. His research specialisms are on conflict transformation and political violence. He is author of /No War, No Peace: The rejuvenation of stalled peace processes and peace accords/, co-author (with Andrew Williams) of /Conflict and Development/, and co-editor (with John Darby) of /Contemporary Peacemaking: Conflict, peace processes and post-war reconstruction/. I came to QUB as an eighteen year old in the late 1980s; Northern Ireland was in the depths of the Troubles. But at Queen's I found people like Frank Wright, Adrian Guelke, Cornelius O'Leary and Mick Cox who opened up new and exciting worlds of comparative politics, African civil wars, political theory and Cold War history. It was a revelation to know that there was politics beyond our shores. After an MA at Lancaster, I came back to Queen's to study for a PhD. After that I started a research job at the University of Ulster, and then have had lectureships at Lancaster and York.

Dr Audra Mitchell

Lecturer in International Relations, University of York (UK)

I  joined the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s University to undertake a PhD after completing a BA (Honours) in Political Theory at Queen’s University in Canada.  My  PhD thesis, which  combined political theory, peace and conflict studies and social anthropology,  critically assessed the logic of  ‘transformation’ and its counterintuitive  potential to enact violence. During my time at QUB, I had the opportunity to benefit from a strong community of scholars in each of the relevant fields and to develop a deep understanding of my research context through long-term immersion in Belfast society. I also had the chance to develop valuable friendships and research relationships in Belfast which have enabled me to continue my work in Northern Ireland.

Since completing my PhD in 2009, I have held a post as Research Fellow at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, School of International Relations, University of St. Andrews, during which time I  published a monograph entitled Lost in Transformation: Violent Peace and Peaceful Conflict in Northern Ireland (Palgrave, 2011), the edited collection Hybrid Forms of Peace: From the ‘Everyday’ to Post-liberalism (with Oliver P. Richmond; Palgrave, 2011), as well as articles in Review of International Studies, Millennium Journal of International Studies, International Peacekeeping,  Irish Political Studies and elsewhere.

In 2010, I was appointed Lecturer in International Relations in the Department of Politics at the University of York. I am  currently undertaking research for a new monograph on the violent affects of international interventions which seek to alter, remove or erase the evidence and structures of ‘conflict’ in societies affected by large-scale violence. My new research includes fieldwork in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus and an ongoing engagement with Northern Ireland.

Dr Aaron Edwards

Senior Lecturer, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

Dr Aaron Edwards is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Defence and International Affairs at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. His PhD thesis examined the marginalization of Labour politics in Northern Ireland, subsequently published as A History of the Northern Ireland Labour Party : Democratic Socialism and Sectarianism (Manchester University Press, 2009). Dr Edwards’ current research interests span ethno-political conflict in Europe, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, terrorism and insurgency, peacebuilding and conflict resolution, and his recent publications include Transforming the Peace Process in Northern Ireland: From Terrorism to Democratic Politics (Irish Academic Press, 2008, co-edited with Stephen Bloomer), and The Northern Ireland Conflict: A Beginner’s Guide (Oneworld Publications, 2010, co-authored with Cillian McGrattan). Dr Edwards has lectured on global security issues to both civilian and military audiences in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Jordan, USA, Germany, Iraq and Norway.

Dr Colin Reid

IRCHSS Postdoctoral Fellowship, NUI Maynooth

The School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s provided me with an immensely convivial and intellectually stimulating environment. From the regular research seminars to the friendly staff, the School provided me with an invaluable support network, countering the at times lonely life of the doctoral researcher. With the encouragement of everyone in the School’s Irish Politics Research Cluster, I completed my thesis in 2008, a study of the Irish writer and nationalist politician Stephen Gwynn. I then went to Oxford for a year, where I held the post of Irish Government Senior Scholar at Hertford College. I used the time in Oxford to rework my thesis for publication. Now, recently returned to Ireland, I am based at NUI Maynooth, where I hold an Irish Council of the Humanities and Social Sciences Postdoctoral Fellowship. I am currently getting to grips with a new research project: a study of the formation and evolution of home rule politics under the leadership of Isaac Butt in the 1870s, which I hope will lead to the publication of a monograph. The support and training I received in the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s was undoubtedly instrumental in furthering my postdoctoral academic adventures, and for that, as well as the friendships I made along the way, I will also be grateful.

Forthcoming Book:  The Lost Ireland of Stephen Gwynn: Irish Constutional Nationalism and Cultural Politics 1864-1950 (to be published in 2011 by Manchester University Press)

Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid

Dr Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid

Rutherford Research Fellow, Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge

Having undertaken an MA in Irish Politics in 2005, I returned to the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy to begin research for a PhD in 2006. My thesis, completed in August 2009 and supervised by Professor Richard English, was entitled ‘Seán MacBride and Irish republicanism, 1904-1946: a contextual biography’. The thesis examined questions surrounding the Irish Revolution, the residual political violence within the Irish Free State, and the nature of Irish republican collaboration with agents of Nazi Germany during the Second World War. All of these issues are placed within the context of a revolutionary movement in terminal decline.  

After the completion of my thesis, I held a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at the Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University Belfast, where I converted my doctoral thesis into an academic monograph. Entitled Man of war: Seán MacBride and Irish republicanism, 1904-1946, it will be published in 2011 by Liverpool University Press. In October 2010, I take up a new Research Fellowship at Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, where I will embark on a project exploring public attitudes towards the Royal Irish Constabulary in the half-century preceding partition.  

My experiences within the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy were of immense benefit to me in my personal and professional development. The quality of supervision accorded to doctoral students, the emphasis on a vibrant research culture across the School, as well as the camaraderie I found within the research student community helped to make my time as a doctoral student enjoyable as well as valuable. I remain deeply grateful for the encouragement, support and guidance I received during my time in the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy.


Andrew Sanders

Professor of History, Seattle University

Andrew Sanders is a professor of History at Seattle University.  He completed his PhD at Queen's University Belfast in 2008 on the topic of division in Irish republicanism, a work which is forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press.  He has also written on the relationship between republicans and the Protestant working class, intelligence cooperation between the security forces in Northern Ireland, levels of violence post-Good Friday Agreement and is also working on a study of the Army in Northern Ireland.

"After completing my MA in Irish Politics at Queen's University in 2004, I was accepted to the PhD programme in the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy for the following academic year.  Here I worked under the supervision of Professors Richard English and Graham Walker.  I cannot speak highly enough of the direction and guidance that I received at Queen's University.  Through studying at Queen's, I was able to interact with some of the finest scholars in my field and their influence helped shape and enhance my work."

Kacper Rekawek

Assistant adjunct professor at the International Relations Cluster, Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Kacper Rekawek is now assistant adjunct professor at the International Relations Cluster of the Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities, one of the Poland's leading universities. Between 2006 and 2009 Kacper completed his PhD in Irish politics at the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, Queen's University Belfast. His thesis, supervised by Professors Richard English and Paul Bew, is a comparative study of different political and military factions of the Irish republican movement in the aftermath of the ceasefires by the Official IRA (1972) and the Provisional IRA (1994). Kacper is now working on turning his work into a book and continues his studies devoted to international terrorism and means of countering it. He teaches history of international relations, European integration and Polish foreign policy.