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Area studies research

Explore the work we're doing across our five areas of expertise in area studies

In a world that's more connected – but fragmented – than ever, area studies has never been more important.

This research area explores the fields of international relations, history, politics, economies, cultures, languages and geography across specific regions. From exploring the history of the American civil rights movement, investigating Europe's relationship with Russia, or seeking to understand the causes of conflict in West Africa, our research is helping us make sense of the world.

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, 25% of our research was rated world leading, and 43% internationally excellent, placing it in the top 10 institutions nationally for impact. Our activities have been funded by major UK and European research councils, including the AHRC, ESF, ESRC, EU, UNESCO, the British Academy and various NGOs.

Our area studies areas of expertise

Find out more about the facilities and methods that shape our area studies research – and learn more about our recent projects, the academic and industrial partners with whom we collaborate, and the major funders who fund our work.

African Studies

We're building knowledge on conflict in West Africa, with a particular focus on issues in the West African Sahel.

Children walking in arid African landscape
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American Studies

We're exploring questions around the powers of the state, and the fight for civil rights in and beyond the context of US politics and society.

Capitol building, Washington DC, USA
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European studies

We're studying societal change, the institutional and legal dynamics of the EU and its member states, and Europe’s global political role.

European union flags
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French studies

Through our research, we're exploring the politics of France and French-speaking countries in the world.

The Louvre in Paris, France
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Russian Studies

We're learning about the issues on the EU's eastern borders, and how the UK and EU should react.

Russian city skyline at dusk
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Research groups

Peace Conflict and Security Research Group

We're researching the complex reality of the struggles over the meaning of security, citizenship and rights.


Transnational Politics and Society Research Group

We're researching cross-border transnational and supranational dimensions of Europe, the European Union, and the wider world.


Interested in a PhD in area studies and international development?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Area Studies and International Development postgraduate research degrees page.