Politics & International Relations Summer School : 12-13 July 2018

Leeds Beckett University

School of Social Sciences


Politics & International Relations Summer School

12-13 July 2018




The Politics & International Relations Group is running a summer school again this year as a free two-day event for students who are interested in politics and international relations and considering studying these and related subjects at university. The event will:


  • examine a range of contemporary issues and debates, and introduce you to a variety of approaches to the study of politics, international relations and related subjects
  • give an insight into what it’s like to study these subjects at university
  • boost your knowledge, understanding and critical thinking for A level, including Government and Politics, History and Sociology
  • enable you to enhance your UCAS personal statement
  • provide two days of stimulating discussion and debate concerning issues that matter

Planned sessions include:


  • Political parties and ideologies – no more governing from the centre? Left, right and the rise of populism (Dr Paul Wetherly)
  • Brexit: how did we get here, and where next? (Dr Sophia Price)
  • Is there a new cold war? Examining the tensions between Russia and the West (Dr Steve Wright)
  • Understanding political economy – the relationship between ‘politics’ and ‘economics’ (Dr Tom Houseman)
  • Why we disagree about Climate Change (Dr John Willott)
  • Understanding peace studies – how can we resolve conflicts in the modern world? (Dr Rachel Julian)


There will also be opportunities to meet academic staff and discuss your interests and plans, get advice on the UCAS application process, and find out more about the courses available at Leeds Beckett University.


The programme will run from 9.30am to 3pm on each day and will include lunch and refreshments.  Full details will be announced soon.


To register your interest in the Summer School and receive full details or to book your place please contact

Yvonne Rayner y.rayner@leedsbeckett.a.uk


For more information contact Dr Paul Wetherly, Reader in Politics p.wetherly@leedsbeckett.ac.uk



Day 1 Thursday 13 July
0930 -1015 Arrival / Welcome/ Introduction to the programme
1015-1130 Session 1

Political parties and ideologies – no more governing from the centre? Left, right and the rise of populism

(Dr Paul Wetherly)


1130-1145 Break


1145-1300 Session 2

How do we think about peace? How the different views from the outside and inside of a conflict help us to understand peace.

(Dr Rachel Julian)

1300-1345 Lunch
1345-1500 Session 3

Why we disagree about Climate Change

(Dr John Willott)

1500 End
Day 2 Friday 14 July
0930-0945 Arrival / Welcome
0945-1100 Session 4

Understanding political economy – the relationship between ‘politics’ and ‘economics’

(Dr Tom Houseman)

1100-1115 Break
1115-1230 Session 5

Is there a new cold war? Examining the tensions between Russia and the West


(Dr Steve Wright)

1230-1315 Lunch
1315-1430 Session 6

Brexit: how did we get here, and where next?

(Dr Sophia Price )

1430-1500 Summing Up / Evaluation / Any Questions?


Session 1

Political parties and ideologies – no more governing from the centre? Left, right and the rise of populism

(Dr Paul Wetherly)

Aim: In this session we will examine recent developments in the political landscape of Britain in terms of ideological debate and party competition

In recent years much of what had seemed stable in politics in Britain and elsewhere, and much conventional political wisdom, has been shaken up by unexpected developments and outcomes, including: the impact of ‘outsiders’ from the left and right, populist and ‘extremist’ ideology gaining ground, growing support for politics of identity and belonging, emergence of new political divisions based on age and education, the unexpected Brexit vote and Trump victory, the eruption of a so-called ‘youthquake’.

In order to understand these developments we need to think about the nature of ideology, the drivers of ideological debate, the role of ideology in politics, and the link between ideological debate and party competition

Key terms: ideology, two-party system, populism, elite, left & right, centre ground, outsiders, youthquake, left-behind

Find out more

‘Tony Blair admits he is baffled by rise of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn’, The Guardian, 23 February 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/feb/23/tony-blair-bernie-sanders-jeremy-corbyn

‘Only respect for the ‘left behind’ can turn the populist tide’, The Guardian, 28 September 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/28/far-right-rightwing-nationalism-populist

‘Make no mistake – right-wing populism is making a resurgence in Europe, as the Italian elections show’, The Independent, 5 March 2018. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/editorials/italy-election-results-populsim-resurgence-europe-anti-eu-silvio-berlusconi-5-star-movement-luigi-di-a8240861.html

‘New centrist party gets £50m backing to ‘break mould’ of UK politics’, The Observer, 8 April 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/07/new-political-party-break-mould-westminster-uk-brexit


Session 2

How do we think about peace? How the different views from the outside and inside of a conflict help us to understand peace.

(Dr Rachel Julian)

Aim: In this session, we will explore how different ideas of peace influence government and community activity.

The idea of peace is often presented as ‘something that everybody wants’, but this masks our very different ideas of what peace actually is. For some it means being a peaceful person and acting in ways which promote living peacefully with others, or it can mean the relationships between people in your neighbourhood are mainly peaceful – which could include looking after one another and coming together as a community. For others peace is connected to security, and military security, where threats are from outside and they want a stronger defence force that can ‘keep the peace’. Around the world some people, sadly, live with the everyday threat of violence and war, so we need to think about what peace means for them, as well as us.

Key terms: peace, security, military, nonviolence, community, diversity, neighbourhood, government, individual.

Find out more

Peace Writ Large: peace building works, but we may need to shout about it more by Phil Vernon



The incredible life of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala



Mothers against violence



7 ways to build peace in your community



Session 3

Why we disagree about Climate Change

(Dr John Willott)



Aim: In this session we will think about Climate Change and our response to it. What should we make of the ‘debate’ about climate change, and assertions such as ‘there is a 97% consensus’ among scientists that it is real? Science doesn’t normally work this way, so what is it about climate change that is different? What should we make of ‘sceptics’ and ‘deniers’?

To understand these ideas we need to think about political ideologies and vested interests, but also understand something about human psychology and even the nature of knowledge, and how we understand our world. We will think about whether ‘science’ is the same as ‘social science’ and if we can use the same tools to understand them.

Find out more

‘Which works better: climate fear, or climate hope? Well, it’s complicated’ The Guardian 4 January 2018 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/04/climate-fear-or-hope-change-debate

‘Deniers club: Meet the people clouding the climate change debate’ Washington Post September 16, 2016 https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/09/16/deniers-club-meet-the-people-clouding-the-climate-change-debate/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.518f57454c6f

Why do some people think climate change is a hoax? Debating Europe 30/11/2017 http://www.debatingeurope.eu/2017/11/30/why-do-some-people-think-climate-change-is-a-hoax/#.WtXOsojwaHs


Session 4

Understanding political economy – the relationship between ‘politics’ and ‘economics’

(Dr Tom Houseman)


Aims: Traditionally, economics and politics have been thought of as separate and different spheres of social life. However, this separation is increasingly difficult to defend, in the light of the highly visible interconnections between money and power, politicians and business interests, and political and economic crises. Politics and Economics, as academic disciplines, have developed tools to analyse only one half of this separation, and so have struggled to explain the interconnections. Political Economy, by contrast, is an intellectual tradition that has sought to understand the political and economic together, as parts of the same thing. This requires challenging parts of our ‘common sense’ about how society works. This session explores some key ideas in Political Economy and how it can change the way we think about the hidden connections between apparently disconnected phenomena.

Key terms: political economy, capitalism, the politics of the market, power, self-interest, exploitation, technology, everyday life.

Find out more:

International Political Economy of Everyday Life (I-PEEL): http://i-peel.org/

Nick Hopkins and Helena Bengtsson (2017) ‘What are the Paradise Papers and what do they tell us?’, The Guardian 5th November 2017: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/05/what-are-the-paradise-papers-and-what-do-they-tell-us

Heidi Blake et al (2018) ‘The UK Refused To Raid A Company Suspected Of Money Laundering, Citing Its Tory Donations’, Buzzfeed News 19th April 2018 https://www.buzzfeed.com/heidiblake/uk-refused-to-raid-lycamobile-citing-its-tory-donations?utm_term=.ccP5zXkGk#.uk3AkYowo

Mark Dearn (2017) ‘If we sign up to the TTIP trade deal with Trump, the first thing to be sold off to US corporations will be the NHS’, The Independent 17th January 2017: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-trade-deal-brexit-theresa-may-ttip-nhs-sold-off-american-us-corporations-a7531111.html


Session 5

Is there a new cold war? Examining the tensions between Russia and the West

(Dr Steve Wright)


Aim: In this session we will examine claims that we are now entering a new ‘cold war’ between Russia and the West. We have had accusations against Russia of cyber-interference in recent elections, statements by President Putin that he can attack any place anywhere with a new generation of nuclear weapons, and America too has begun to upgrade its nuclear arsenals. The West, including Britain, has placed economic sanctions against Russia which are beginning to bite, yet not everyone agrees that these changes necessarily mean we are entering a new political dark age. How do we objectively decide?


In recent months, few would disagree that tensions between Russia and the West have escalated. Some of these concerns have become part of election rhetoric but the allegations of Russian-made nerve agents being used on the Streets of UK for political assassination have heightened such tensions. Worse still are the allegations of a Russian backed chemical attack by its client regime in Syria which have led to the UN saying the consequences could be catastrophic. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have changed their doomsday clock to 2 minutes to midnight, which means they think we are closer to the brink of apocalypse than ever before.


In order to understand these developments, we need to think about wider geo-political agendas. What outcomes are being sought and what outcomes might be produced which are unforeseen? Some say that we need to reflect on who gains what out of a new set of arms races, including the burgeoning ‘military industrial university security complex’. The fate of all our own securities hinge on such outcomes, so our understanding and engagement is vital.


Key Terms:  Coldwar; political assassination; nuclear arms race; chemical and biological weapons; nerve agents; client states; super powers; A-bomb; H-bomb; nuclear deterrence; nuclear genocide; useful idiots. Apocalypse; doomsday clock; emergent weapons technologies; missile defence; military industrial complex; conflict de-escalation.


Find Out More

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clockhttps://thebulletin.org/timeline


Pugwash Conferences on Science & World Affairs https://pugwash.org/


Scientists For Global Responsibility http://www.sgr.org.uk/


Ongoing Daily News Broadcasts The deterioration of relations between the major superpowers is being reported on daily with threats and challenges, UN debates and contested reports of war crimes and denials. Think about how a neutral observer can distinguish between true facts and ideologically driven propaganda



Session 6

Brexit: how did we get here, and where next?

(Dr Sophia Price)


Aim: In this session we will examine the UK’s membership of the EU, the conditions that drove us to vote to Leave and difficulties the government face in delivering this. It will ask whether, given these challenges, there should be a second referendum on leaving the EU.

The UK’s membership of the European has been a controversial issue since joining in the early 1970s. It has deeply divided the British electorate, political parties and movements. It has cost some politicians their careers and has caused the creation of a political party specially designed to lead the UK out of Europe. However, in spite of this, the result of the referendum came as a huge shock in British Politics. Rather than uniting a divided Conservative Party it has further reinforced its divisions, and coupled with a poor result at the subsequent general election, has resulted in a weak and precarious government trying to deal with what is the most complex political challenge facing the UK in recent times. And all the time the clock is ticking, as the deadline of 29th March 2019 for the UK’s exit looms. This session will explore the complexity of the political challenge facing the government, and the options that exist for leaving. It will ask – given these difficulties, should there be another referendum on Brexit?

In order to understand these developments we need to think about what is the EU, why did people vote for Brexit, what are the challenges facing the government in delivering the ‘will of the people’, what are the arguments for and against another referendum

Key terms: Brexit, The European Union, referendum, representation, sovereignty,

Find out more

‘Brexit: People voted to Leave EU because they feared immigration, major survey finds’  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/brexit-latest-news-leave-eu-immigration-main-reason-european-union-survey-a7811651.html

‘UK needs Brexit ‘safe Harbour’ – David Miliband’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44106890

‘Second Brexit referendum possible if MPs vote down Theresa May’s deal, Labour’s Brussels leader says’ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-referendum-second-mps-vote-theresa-may-deal-labour-brussels-richard-corbett-a8321316.html

‘Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU ‘ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32810887

One million students join calls for vote on Brexit deal https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/may/12/one-million-students-call-vote-brexit-deal




International Day for the Right to Truth (24th March)

 Image result for archbishop arnulfo romero



Post by Dr. Maria O’Reilly, Lecturer in Politics & International Relations


March 2018


March 24 marks the eighth annual “International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims”. Each year on this date, national governments, international organizations, and civil society groups recognize that victims of gross violations of human rights have the right to know the truth about the atrocities experienced by themselves or by others. This date was chosen to honour the memory of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, of El Salvador, who was killed on 24 March 1980 after denouncing violations of human rights. [1] As well as honouring victims of human rights violations, March 24 is also a day for paying tribute to many individuals and groups across the world who are involved in the difficult and often dangerous work of promoting and protecting human rights.


In Bosnia & Herzegovina, as in other countries that have experienced armed conflict, many individuals have devoted their lives to uncovering the truth about what happened to relatives and friends who disappeared during the 1992-95 conflict. The war in BiH claimed the lives of 100,000 people, of whom approximately 31,500 disappeared and were reported missing by their families. [2] Wartime disappearances have a tremendous impact, leaving survivors to cope with ongoing trauma and grief, to search for loved ones whose remains lie buried in mass graves throughout the region, and to demand that those responsible are brought to justice.


Mirsada Malagić, who lost several members of her family during the genocide at Srebrenica, spoke of the ongoing impact of wartime disappearance on surviving relatives, when testifying at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia:


“We saw our sons and our husbands off to those woods and never found out anything about them again, whether they are alive or dead, where their bones are lying. Many mothers have died hoping against hope, and it is quite possible that all the other mothers would end up like that because their numbers are dwindling every day.”  [3]


Many of those who disappeared were the victims of arbitrary executions and mass killings, with significant efforts made by perpetrators to cover up the evidence of these crimes.  Relatives frequently encounter “denial and silence” rather than “acknowledgement and disclosure” regarding the fate and whereabouts of loved ones. [4] The task of locating, recovering and identifying missing persons is therefore a slow and complicated process, involving multiple agencies at both local and international levels.  Two decades years after the war ended, significant progress has been made towards locating and identifying those who disappeared. The remains of over 25,000 missing persons in BiH have so far been located, recovered and identified, yet the fate and whereabouts of the remaining thousands remains unknown. [5] Many families are still waiting to uncover the truth regarding what happened to their missing relatives, and to see those responsible held to account.


With this in mind, it is important to pay tribute to the crucial role that surviving relatives play in the process of locating and identifying missing persons, and in campaigning for their rights to truth, justice and reparations to be upheld.  Many have taken it upon themselves to actively search for their missing family members, both in wartime and in peacetime. Through their involvement with family associations, they have also registered missing persons, provided blood samples for DNA analysis, and attended exhumations and identifications.  Activists in family associations have created much-needed support structures for relatives going through this harrowing process, and in doing so provide vital information, advice and moral support.   Many are working to establish dialogue and cooperation, for example by organizing joint commemorations (e.g. on the International Day of the Disappeared) and by engaging in joint truth-telling initiatives. [6] These activists work in local communities affected by conflict. They play a significant role in uncovering the truth regarding the circumstances of enforced disappearances, and are crucial to the success of the processes for locating and identifying missing persons.



  1. United Nations – General Assembly, “Resolution – Proclamation of 24 March as the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims,” A/RES/65/196, December 21 2010
  2. Jeremy Sarkin, Lara Nettelfield, Max Matthews, and Renee Kosalka, Bosnia i Herzegovina: Missing persons from the armed conflicts of the 1990s: A Stocktaking, Sarajevo: International Commission on Missing Persons, 2014
  3. Mirsada Malagić, quoted on ICTY website at: http://www.icty.org/sid/191 (last accessed 19 March 2018)
  4. Margriet Blaauw and Virpi Lähteenmäki, ‘“Denial and silence” or “acknowledgement and disclosure”,’ International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 84, No. 848, 2002, pp.767–783
  5. Jeremy Sarkin, Lara Nettelfield, Max Matthews, and Renee Kosalka, Bosnia i Herzegovina: Missing persons from the armed conflicts of the 1990s: A Stocktaking, Sarajevo: International Commission on Missing Persons, 2014
  6. Maria O’Reilly, Gendered Agency in War and Peace: Gender Justice and Women’s Activism in Post-conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Transforming Conflict Resolution

Transforming Conflict Research. How does that work?

Dr Rachel Julian, Reader in Peace Studies

My work on unarmed civilian peacekeeping has been featured in a Leeds Beckett University campaign about how research can transform lives and society.
But what does it mean, that research can transform?

A transformation suggests a radical shift, rethinking what was thought to be fixed and suggesting new opportunities for what we do.
In conflict resolution we already argue that dialogue and talking is a big shift in a world where the use of the military, threats and even war is seen as a legitimate response to conflict. Most people in our world are nonviolent – we help our family and neighbours, we seek peaceful solutions when there is conflict, we play, dream and create solutions that are designed to help people.

In my work, we are considering the threats to those who are threatened by direct violence in a conflict, by death threats, raids by armed groups, sexually based violence or state violence and trying to understand which solutions will provide security, empower them, and halt the cycle of violence in which they are trapped.
When faced with such levels of violence it can seem overwhelming and what has happened is that we have jumped quickly to believing that UN Peacekeeping is the only option and we have sent in the armed UN Peacekeepers without knowing there are other options. UN peacekeepers are armed military personnel who come from the member states of the UN, so they are forces fundamentally trained to fight, not protect, which is one issue, but greater than that is by only responding to violence with violence we reinforce the idea that only violence will work. The effect of this is that nonviolent solutions and the work by unarmed civilians has been under reported, de-legitimized and under used.
If we study what people actually do when faced with violent attack, then most communities will have a system or method of community and self protection (for example flee, hide, group together or early warning), not arming themselves – indeed peace zones are places where people have realised they are safer without any weapons.
For the past 35 years, NGOs have been supporting communities with their protection by doing Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping. This work has involved trained unarmed civilians living and working amidst Communities experiencing violence, and providing protective presence, monitoring, investigation, child protection and human rights advocacy. These tasks look the same as those carried out by armed UN peacekeepers, which shows that weapons and threat of violence is not necessary for changing the behaviour of armed actors. Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping has saved lives, got people returned after abduction, prevented Community displacement and investigated human rights abuses.
The research that I have done has shown that UN armed military peacekeeping is not the only option when protecting people from violence, that unarmed civilians can protect people.

This is transformative because it means we can de-militarise Peacekeeping. When we talk about peacekeeping, we should no longer assume this means UN armed Military peacekeeping, we should we saying that peacekeeping is about the direct protection of civilians from violence. This might need the military and might need civilians – it gives us the possibility of providing the right support to each community.
This is transformative because we can assess the negative aspects of UN armed military peacekeeping (how it perpetuates the cycle of violence, reinforces militarism and closes down civilian conflict resolution opportunities) and begins to understand more about the complexity of stopping violence
This is transformative because if we show that unarmed civilians can halt violence, then we will recognise that the people themselves have power and influence in their own protection – empowering those who want peace.
This is transformative, because if we accept peacekeeping can be done by unarmed civilians we can change the funding and deployment structures that only allow the military to be funded, we can ensure that the UN and member states recognise that the military are not always the answer and open the space for dialogue on how Nonviolence and Peace can really be achieved.

It is the work on the ground, the civilians who have to live with daily violence and threats who are the real changemakers, who change the way lives are lived…but in a world where policy and programmes are still decided far from those people we need to have a way of explaining what is happening and the significance of it. Research is the reporting of, analysis of what is happening, and suggestions of what it means. It can sometimes be the big picture, the comparison with other places and the challenge to established policies, ideas and theories. Research can transform our thinking and lead to change, but without those who, in this field, live and work in the midst of violence holding onto a vision of peace and nonviolence, then the research falls into an empty vacuum.

Transforming conflict resolution is possible. A world of Peace is possible. The collaboration of research and practice is happening now, happening here and I am immensely proud to work with those who act for peace every day.