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School of Government & International Affairs

 School of Government & International Affairs

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A landmark agreement signed recently between Durham University and Qatar University’s College of Arts and Sciences (QU-CAS) will see the initiation of a dual award PhD in Gulf Studies. The Dual award PhD gives students an additional degree option of spending time at both institutions and receiving co-supervision of their thesis. The Vice-Chancellor of the Durham University, Professor Stuart Corbridge, and the QU President Dr. Hassan Al-Derham, signed the agreement at Durham University.

The School invites applications for The Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships

Early Career Fellowships aim to provide career development opportunities for those who are at a relatively early stage of their academic careers, but who have a proven record of research. The expectation is that Fellows should undertake a significant piece of publishable work during their tenure, and that the Fellowships should lead to a more permanent academic position. Applications will be considered in all subject areas with the exception of research that is of direct relevance to clinicians, medical professionals and/or the pharmaceutical industry.

For more information on the scheme and details on the eligibility criteria please see Leverhulme’s website at:

For information about the timetable and process at Durham University click here.

Ehteshami, A and Elik, S ‘Turkey's Growing Relations with Iran and Arab Middle East’, published in issue 12.4
(2011), was among the top 10 most downloaded articles from Turkish Studies
last year.

SGIA moves up to be ranked 5th Politics Department in the UK by Complete University Guide 2017, with Durham University ranked 6th overall.

SGIA success in AHRC’s Open World Research Initiative (OWRI)

The School of Government and International Affairs is a key contributor to one of four major research programmes the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is funding as part of its Open World Research Initiative (OWRI). Durham’s researchers are part of a consortium, led by Professor Stephen Hutchings (University of Manchester), which has been awarded £3.9 million to develop a large interdisciplinary programme of research titled Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community. SGIA’s team, led by Prof Anoush Ehteshami and the al-Sabah Programme which he directs, will provide a critical interdisciplinary component of this major initiative, focusing on the transformation of political Islam and the behaviour and the evolving socio-political narrative of Islamist forces at a time of dynamic change in the strategic modern Middle East and North Africa region.

The aim of AHRC’s multi-million pound investment in its priority area of Modern Languages is to explore and foreground the central role that languages play in relation to key contemporary issues, such as social cohesion, migration, health, business and diplomacy. The initiative thereby seeks to have a significant impact on the study of modern languages in the UK.

Professor Michael Worton, CBE, comments:

The OWRI initiative aims to transform the discipline of modern languages and to find a new voice, a new vision and, above all, a new identity for languages. The challenge for each of the successful 4-year projects is to achieve all this through research which is more radically interdisciplinary than hitherto and more imaginatively collaborative with dynamic partnerships with other universities, with schools and, crucially, with non-academic organisations in the UK and abroad.”

Our consortium is made up of three core partner institutions – University of Manchester, Durham University, and London University’s Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Studies. It includes further collaborative partnerships with a number of other universities, in the UK and abroad, as well as a wide range of non-academic organisations, from six-form colleges and local councils to arts institutions, cultural diplomacy networks and foreign-policy think tanks.

Professor Stephen Hutchings, the project’s Principal Investigator, comments:

“We are delighted to have been awarded this grant, which we hope will strengthen community wellbeing and establish Modern Languages at the cutting edge of Humanities research more broadly. It aims to enhance the audience-building capacities of arts organisations, improve inter-community relations and deepen public understanding of the importance and complexity of language as a driver of community values.”

The consortium’s programme is structured into three interconnected research strands – the Multilingual (led by Professor Yaron Matras, University of Manchester), the Translingual (led by Professor Catherine Davies, IMLR, SAS, London University), andthe Transnational (co-led by Dr Andy Byford, MLAC, Durham University, and Professor Anoush Ehteshami, SGIA, Durham University). Durham’s researchers further include Dr Qing Cao, Dr Abir Hamdar, Dr Francisco-J. Hernández Adrián and Dr Dušan Radunović from MLAC. Post-doctoral and doctoral researchers will also form part of the team. The project is strongly supported by Durham’s School of Government and International Affairs (SGIA), which introduces into our research in modern languages the disciplinary strengths of political science and international relations, as well as deep regional studies expertise focused on the Muslim world, East Asia and Europe. Core non-academic partners with whom Durham will be collaborating particularly closely include Chatham House, Tyneside Cinema and Durham County Council.

Professor Claire Warwick,Durham University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research), comments:

“We at Durham recognise the great value of collaborative projects which bring together researchers from so many HE institutions in the UK and other countries, and which draw on expertise from beyond the HE sector. We consider the scale and scope of this programme, with the wide coverage of global humanity that it seeks to study, engage with and inform, as unprecedented. It will place UK research in Modern Languages firmly on the world map, and create a legacy of pioneering interdisciplinary and language-led research.”

Durham-based research will focus on the dynamics of political, social and cultural interaction across a wide variety of examples of transnational communities – communities that share a single language, but are dispersed across multiple states and cultures. Our case-studies concentrate principally on the Russian-, Arabic-, Chinese-, and Spanish-speaking communities. Within this framework we explore:

- the consequences of the fact that, while language remains an unusually stable basis for identity-formation, it is becoming dislocated from sources of political power and cultural legitimacy;

- the effects of this on personal identities and networks, collective memories and ideologies, institutional structures and practices;

- the impact of the formation of transnational publics rooted in particular languages on contemporary statehood, nationhood, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and cultural practices;

- the effect of evolving forms of mobility and connectivity on the formation of different types of transnational language-based communities.

Why Choose SGIA

  • The QS World University league tables rank Durham in the world's top 100 universities for the quality of, and demand for, our graduates. The subject area of Politics and International Relations at Durham is ranked 51st for 2015.

  • SGIA is ranked 12th in the UK for world-leading and international excellence in research.

  • Durham University was rated the Number 1 University in the UK for student quality of life and employability in a comprehensive survey carried out by Lloyds Bank for several national newspapers. See for example: Quality of Life

  • Durham University is ranked 5th in the prestigious 2016 Times Good University Guide with Politics in 11th position. Ranked 5th in the UK in the Complete University Guide with Politics in 7th position. In the Guardian University League Tables Durham is ranked 6th overall with Politics in 8th position. For postgraduate studies Middle East studies is in 3rd position.

  • We have a vibrant Postgraduate Community with students from 58 different countries.



Friday 27 May 2016

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) results confirm that 71% of SGIA’s research is either ‘internationally excellent’ (3*) or ‘world leading’ (4*) – the top two categories.

SGIA achieved especially strong results for the impact of its research amongst non-academic research users, including government, civil society and industry, with 73% of its research impact rated 3* and 27% rated 4*. Research impact case-studies focused on SGIA’s research contribution to developing UK foreign policy towards the Persian Gulf; UK and international asylum and immigration policy; and capacity building in the fast-growing global Islamic finance sector.

Ratings for SGIA’s research environment – its support for doctoral and early career researchers, its research income generation and its strategy and process for supporting established researchers – was even more successful. 63% of the environment factors were rated as 3* and 38% as 4*. This confirms SGIA’s position as one of the UK’s best locations for starting and developing a research career.

Welcoming the results, Head of School Professor Emma Murphy said, “It is really rewarding to see the impact of our research recognised in this way. Academic research of the highest quality produced in SGIA is helping address important practical challenges in public policy.”

The REF is the largest regular assessment of the quality of research by UK universities, with research outputs, research impact and research environment rigorously assessed by an international panel of leading subject experts and research users from government, civil society and industry.

SGIA returned the vast majority of its research staff for assessment – 73% — reflecting the standing of Durham University as one of the leading research intensive institutions in the UK.

Durham University’s overall performance was also notable. Professor Claire Warwick, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), said: “Durham University research was almost universally assessed as being of international quality. These results confirm that Durham is an international research powerhouse carrying out a breadth of excellent research which has proven and wide-ranging societal impact internationally, nationally and regionally.”

Professor Ray Hudson, Acting Vice-Chancellor, Durham University, said: “The results of REF 2014 are another indication that students at Durham are taught by some of the best academics in the world. Their research informs their teaching to give them a world-leading education, making our graduates among the most sought after by international employers.”

More information on Durham University’s performance in the REF2014 is available at

Contact Details

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The Al-Qasimi Building
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Durham DH1 3TU, UK
Tel: +44 (0)191 334 5656
Fax: +44 (0)191 334 5661
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World leading research across all Durham University subjects

Durham Global Security Institute

al-Sabah Programme

Pakistan Security Research Unit