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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

1.1 The School of Politics is one of the fastest growing units in the UK and has moved well beyond the objectives set out in the 1996 RAE return. Major restructuring has allowed the School to recruit a stream of outstanding researchers, far exceeding the phased targets for expansion set in 1996. This has been a planned expansion focused on several thematic clusters, facilitating critical mass in our main areas of activity, and drawing us away from reliance solely on high quality individual scholarship. Having moved from 8.3 FTE staff in 1996 to 20 FTE staff in March 2001, with two further staff joining in the autumn of 2001, the School looks forward to a continued development in its research status.
1.2 New appointments have permitted not only the realisation of a second phase of research development (post-1996), but also the creation of a School characterised by centres, institutes and team projects, together with significant individual work. There is now an embedded research culture that extends throughout the School. Numbers of taught postgraduates have more than doubled to reach 64 students, registered over eight MA degrees, which are designed to train the next generation of researchers. Postgraduate research students have also doubled in number to 17. The four established chairs and one personal chair provide leadership for research clusters and build on the School's established expertise in Asia, Europe, Democratisation, and Political Theory, as well as providing a focus for new areas of excellence.

2.1 As one of the country's foremost research institutions, the University of Nottingham offers a very supportive research environment for the School of Politics. The University Research Committee enjoys a budget of c. £3 million, which provides a wide range of support. The School has fared well in open bids for central support. There have also been New Lecturers' Research Grants (4), University Postgraduate Research Studentships (9) and Overseas Conference Grants (14). Heywood has taken a leading role in the development of the University's research strategy as Director of PG Training in the Graduate School and as a member of both the Humanities Research Strategy Group and the Graduate Strategy Group.
2.2 The School has played an important part in the rise of inter-disciplinary institutes and centres. It hosts the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies (IAPS) and the Centre for the Study of European Governance (CSEG). It also participates in the Institute for the Study of Biorisks and Society, the Institute for Russian, Soviet, Central and East European Studies, and works closely with the Postgraduate School of Critical Theory and the newly created Institute of Contemporary Chinese Studies. A key role for institutes has been to bring large research teams together and to focus strategic library enhancement by encouraging new electronic provision. Electronic journal subscription has been accelerated with a central grant of £77k in 2000, and the 5000 serials now available on-line outnumber those in paper form. In 1999 and 2000 spending on serials expanded at 9% per annum. In 1999 the University opened a further library with holdings in the social sciences, facilitating improved provision across the board.

3.1 In 1996 the School Research Strategy identified three established platforms which embedded the research of the School in recognised disciplinary areas and connected with national and international initiatives. These were: Comparative Politics, International Relations and Political Theory. These three platforms guided balanced staff expansion and have facilitated a step-change in research organisation, allowing a shift from these platforms to four strong research clusters together with substantial individual endeavour. Research clusters are focused on key themes or geographical areas of interest to several researchers. These are denoted by centres, institutes, linked projects or patterns of national and international collaboration. The research clusters are:

· Asia-Pacific
3.2 In 1999 the School was chosen to host the University's Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies (IAPS), directed by Aldrich. IAPS was re-launched with an enhanced budget (£30k) provided by the University, facilitating fellowships, scholarships and a resource centre located in Politics. Four key themes have been identified for concentrated activity: elections, political communication, social movements and security issues. Much work has focused upon newly declassified archives and an international conference on the Clandestine Cold War in Asia, held at Nottingham and SOAS in April 1999, reviewed these developments. The proceedings have appeared as an issue of the journal Intelligence and National Security. Rawnsley has taking a leading role in exploring newly available resources while Visiting Research Professor in the Graduate Institute of Political Science, National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan, conducting work funded by the British Academy, the EU-China Academic network and the Nuffield Foundation. Rawnsley's work on democratisation and political communication in Taiwan has confirmed his position as an international authority on this country, reflected in his recent election to the Board of Directors of the American Association for Chinese Studies. Hedman and Hughes (a Leverhulme Special Research Fellow) have undertaken co-ordinated work on Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia leading to publication in journals such as Public Policy and Government and Opposition.
3.3 The arrival of Mitra in October 2000, previously Head of Political Science at the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg and one of the world's leading researchers on South Asian politics, heralds a major expansion of Asian activity. This reflects a decision to develop projects focused on South Asia-South East Asia links and Europe-Asia links which are already funded by the EU and European Science Foundation. In the current period Mitra has led, or participated in, seven international collaborative research projects with partners in North America, Europe and South Asia, including Professor Gabriel Almond (Stanford University) and Professor Robert Mundt (University of North Carolina, Charlotte).

· Europe and European Integration
3.4 This is the largest regional group and has received substantial investment. Heywood's work has included a major ESRC funded study (£80k) on the policy process in Spain, involvement in the Whitehall programme, and also a World Bank/SIGMA Project on support for Cabinets in Central Europe. The hallmark of this cluster is comparative policy studies, denoted by work on areas such as executives and central banks (Elgie and Jones) There is a particularly strong nexus of work on European monetary regulation, banking and trade negotiation. Jones has developed a reputation for expertise on monetary union and is also founder member of the Political Economy Group of the European Community Studies Association of the United States.
3.5 The group was considerably strengthened by the arrival of Elgie in 1999 who developed a new Centre for the Study of European Governance (CSEG). The work of the Centre is located in three areas - Institutions, Policies and Processes - and focuses on in depth single country case studies and cross-national comparisons. Three further posts starting in 2001 (Bieler, Fieschi, Thorlakson) continue this work and add to our country expertise (Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, UK and the former Yugoslavia) as well as research activity on central and eastern Europe. Elgie continued the School's strong tradition of work on France and also completed work on the French budgetary process and the presidency with Jack Hayward and Vincent Wright as part of the ESRC project on the core executive in Western Europe. Heywood was also Country Director on Spain, leading a team of six researchers. Elgie founded and is currently chair of the PSA specialist group on French Politics and Policy.
3.6 The CSEG continues the momentum developed by the Centre for Defence Diplomacy and International Security developed over four years by Forster. The core activity of this previous Centre was European and was funded by an ESRC award of £120k under the auspices of the 'One Europe or Several?' programme held jointly with Andrew Cottey (Bradford). The Centre was successful with applications for seven further grants and other awards totalling £111k. The Centre had considerable impact on practitioners and policy-makers with conferences and workshops, convened as far afield as Kiev, attracting senior military officials and civil servants from a dozen countries. In 2000 Forster departed to a prestigious appointment as Research Director of the new Joint Services Command and Staff College.

· Democratisation and Regime Transition
3.7 Heywood leads a group of five staff with particular interests in democratisation. Having completed with colleagues in Glasgow an ESRC joint project on changing values in Central and Eastern Europe, he is now participating in an ECPR/Japanese PSA Joint Project (1999-2003) on democratisation as part of six-person European team working with a similar Japanese team. Work on peace-keeping, civil society and human rights under circumstances of regime transition is a central feature of this group. The arrival of Hughes in 1999 greatly strengthened agency related work, since both Hughes and Pupavac have conducted studies for bodies such as the Cambodian Development Council and the International War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague and are undertaking comparative research on 'failed states'. Pupavac typifies the major contribution made by younger researchers to this research group, having completed a Ph.D. and presented papers on human rights at EAASS in Cyprus, SEERU in Croatia, ECPR/ISA in Vienna, and more recently to the Centre of Austrian Studies, University of Minnesota. Hedman, Pupavac and Tormey co-ordinated work on democratisation and social movements with universities across Indonesia supported by the British Council. This facilitated strong links with the Human Rights Law Centre leading to a joint conference on East Timor in April 1999 and also growing numbers of research students supervised by both Politics and Law. In 1999 Heywood led a delegation of four staff to China at the invitation of the Chinese Association for International Understanding focused upon democratisation.

· Contemporary Political Theory
3.8 This group is led by Pierson and concentrates upon European and North American contemporary political thought. Ecology is a strong focus, greatly strengthened by the appointment of Humphrey to a permanent post in 1999. Humphrey has published notable journal articles in the field of ecological politics and forms part of the inter-disciplinary Institute for the Study of Biorisks and Society which has secured £1.19 million funding from Leverhulme. The ecological theme is continued by the work of Sargisson, an international leader in the field of feminist utopian thought who has completed two monographs and a substantial ESRC project on 'Intentional Communities: Utopianism and Radicalism in British Environmental Politics'. Sargisson has led the re-launch of the UK Utopian Studies Society which has developed links with the Society for Utopian Studies in North America. This group was greatly strengthened in 2000 by the arrival of Stavrakakis, who has recently completed a monograph on Lacan and the Political. He has also developed a substantial portfolio of work on ecology including a series of articles and a co-authored book on BSE and Risk Society. Tormey has been instrumental in connecting the work of this research group with the University's Postgraduate School of Critical Theory and is now a major international authority on the work of Agnes Heller. In 2000 Tormey gave plenary addresses at IPEA Quebec and Columbia University with published proceedings.

3.9 The School is also characterised by an impressive range of individually-based research. Pierson has made substantial contributions to the study of social theory and the state with extremely well received studies. He is completing further large-scale comparative work on social provision following an ESRC funded year-long fellowship at the Australian National University. There is a strong emphasis on the interface with social policy and public administration. Denham has also focused on public policy, examining the role of think tanks and policy advisers in national and international perspective. International Affairs described this work as 'the first truly international comparative study' and 'a ground-breaking addition to the academic literature on the subject'. Denham gained an AHRB Research Leave Award for his project on Lord Joseph, which builds on his previous work on the social ideas of the 'new right' and their impact in contemporary Britain.

4.1 Seventeen staff have been appointed in the School of Politics in the five year period 1996-2000, with four further appointments in December 2000/January 2001. The School initially moved through a period of revitalisation and then a period of consolidation. This has been followed by managed growth on the basis of the University's favourable review of our mid-period performance. The overall strategy with regard to new appointments has been to develop the School's main clusters of activity, and where possible the School has sought to appoint people who can contribute to more than one group. Eight of the recent appointments have added two staff to each of the four main research clusters, permitting balanced enhancement.
4.2 The appointments have all been of the highest quality. Of the more recent appointments, Mitra enjoys an international reputation and his appointment to a new chair in South Asian politics allows the School to claim a significant place in the study of Asian politics, and to extend its range beyond the previous focus on Taiwan and on South East Asia. There is strong commitment to appointing the most active new researchers in order to strengthen the four research clusters. Recent appointments include: Humphrey (First Class degree in Economics and Politics from the University of Bath and M.Phil and D.Phil from Oxford); Elgie (First Class degree in PPE from Oxford and Ph.D from the LSE); Wylie (First Class degree in History from Kings College London and M.Phil and Ph.D from Cambridge). Five promotions in the current period underline the existence of a supportive environment for career development.
4.3 Post-doctoral research staff play an increasingly important role. Stavrakakis (First Class degree for Athens and D.Phil. from Essex) was appointed to a University Research Fellowship in Politics after a competition with 397 applicants while Hughes (First Class degree in PPE from Oxford and Ph.D from Hull) held a Leverhulme Special Research Fellowship. Visiting research fellows add critical mass to existing projects. Dr Katsumi Ishizuka, currently studying peacekeeping in East Timor, became the latest Visiting Research Fellow in May 2000.

5.1 The Professor responsible for Research (Aldrich) and the four-person School Research Committee superintend the development of overall research strategies. The Committee meets regularly to develop strategy, review individual and group activities and to discuss priorities, which are then agreed in School meetings. Each member of staff presents a personal research plan covering a five year period which is reviewed regularly by the Research Committee. Three professorial and one non-professorial members of staff support the School with advice on areas such as research planning, grant application, collaboration and research dissemination. A key role is advising staff on funding possibilities and in developing applications. There has been a substantial increase in external funding and staff have secured grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Board, the British Academy, the British Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the European Union, the European Science Foundation (Asia Committee), Fonds Nationale Suisse de la Recherche Scientifique, the Ford Foundation, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, the Leverhulme Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, the Research Council of Norway, the Social Science Research Council of Ireland and the Westminster Foundation.
5.2 The School operates a University-supported programme of study leave with the aim of allowing staff one semester in seven. The Head of School manages work-loads to create a relatively light teaching schedule in one of the two semesters each year. All members of staff have a Research Account funded by the School to support research activities as they wish. They are expected to keep clear at least one day a week in term time for research activity. Junior members of staff in their first year of full-time employment are given special support through protected teaching and administration loads to ensure they remain research active. A system of mentoring assists in the transfer of skills in individual research management.
5.3 The weekly School Research Seminar is an important focus, and all staff and advanced research students attend and present papers. 'In-house' sessions alternate with papers from leading researchers. Contributors have included Andrew Dobson, Michael Freeden, Chantal Mouffe, Guy Peters, Raymond Plant, Sven Steinmo and Stephen White. These seminars are complemented by specialist series of research seminars and on-line papers run by the Centre for the Study of European Governance and the Institute for Asia-Pacific Studies. Regional research support has been enhanced through membership of the Midlands Political Theory and Thought Group and through association with the Jean Monnet Centre at Loughborough.
5.4 The School's Staff Development Officer ensures use of the varied courses offered by the University's Staff Development Unit, employing earmarked funds for this individual activity and collective 'Away Days'. Particular attention is given to research training for new staff and the current chair of the University New Lecturers Strategy Group is Humphrey. A growing budget has been set aside for visiting scholars and research fellows, which receives a central subsidy. The University organises monthly research soirees, which are aimed at junior colleagues, exploring current issues and promoting inter-disciplinary work. The Research Business Unit offers expertise in the preparation of funding applications.

6.1 The postgraduate community is seen as a key research element and is fully integrated into the life of the School. The Director of Postgraduate Studies is Mitra who chairs the Postgraduate Studies Committee. The complement of research students has grown in line with the rapid expansion of the School and now numbers seventeen, with a further ten ‘writing up’. As well as giving papers to the School Research Seminar, postgraduates also have their own research colloquium series. Research students are normally associated with one of the research centres/institutes or are involved in an interdisciplinary strand of work. A major area of success has been joint bids with other Schools for University scholarships, for example three research students are focused on global politics/international law. Between 1996 and 2000 all candidates submitting were awarded doctorates. The achievements of these students can be gauged from their own flow of publications (10 refereed articles in the current period), and the visiting fellowships they have secured at institutions such as Brown University (Stevens) and Yale University. Six research students from the current period, Gulnur Aybet, Gengis Basak, Mustafa Chufali, Oliver Daddow, Catherine Phuong and David Stevens now have permanent academic posts.
6.2 All eligible postgraduate activities in the School have ESRC recognition, including Mode A recognition for research students, reflecting strict quality control criteria. In the current period there have been three ESRC funded, and one British Academy funded research students in the School. The School has won nine competitive University half-cost studentships. Research students are located in a spacious research facility in the Politics building, with state-of-the art IT facilities, in close proximity to the library and the Graduate School. The School also runs a highly successful MA programme with eight distinct degrees which constitutes an important training vehicle for research students with a strong methodological element.

6.3 All research students have two supervisors. Junior staff gain experience of supervision early in their careers and are assigned with senior staff to learn effective supervision. Junior staff undertake training in supervision with the University Training and Staff Development Unit.

Users of this website should note that the information is not intended to be a complete record of all research centres in the UK

Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL

Last updated 17 October 2003

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