Politics and Contemporary History Research Centre

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Providing a vibrant interdisciplinary research community encompassing expertise within several areas of Politics and Contemporary History with a focus on Area Studies.

The Politics and Contemporary History (PCH) Research Centre focuses on a variety of political and historical themes. The Centre has expertise in several areas within international relations and politics, particularly international security. This includes terrorism and counter-terrorism; conflict, security and development; civil war studies; and counter-insurgency.

Other key areas of interest include international political economy; the media (including social media) and politics; European party politics; intelligence studies (including the history of intelligence); energy, climate and politics; and military history (especially land warfare, air power and theories of war). Our research analyses several regions of the world, covering Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia.

Politics and Contemporary History are viewed by the group as mutually reinforcing disciplines. Contemporary History is defined in the more traditional sense of history since 1789. Our political scientists appreciate the importance of historical background, while our historians are interested in applying historical knowledge and experience to contemporary problems and challenges. The group welcomes cross- and interdisciplinary research projects. The activities of the group and its development in recent years are influenced mostly within the field of ‘Area Studies’.

International Security

People with their arms in the air

Several aspects of international security are researched within the Politics and Contemporary History Research Centre. This includes terrorism and counter-terrorism; conflict, security and development; civil wars; and counter-insurgency. Our scholars also investigate peace and peace processes; military interventions; inter-state interactions/diplomacy; globalisation and political violence; international political economy and conflict; extremism; and climate/energy policies and security.

Our research investigates various regions, particularly Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia. This includes analysis of key geo-political players in the international system, such as the US, China and Russia, as well as several case studies of countries such as Colombia, the UK/Northern Ireland, Sudan and Syria.

Our research is published in leading academic presses, such as Cambridge University Press, Palgrave Macmillan and Routledge, as well as leading peer-reviewed journals, including the Review of International Political Economy, New Political Economy, Small Wars and Insurgencies, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, Political Studies, Third World Quarterly, International Studies Review, and the Journal of Contemporary China.

Staff within this research theme have several external links, including the Standing Group on Political Violence within the European Consortium for Political Research, the International Centre for Countering Terrorism, and the Academic Network of UK’s Commission for Countering Extremism.

Intelligence Studies


The University of Salford has a longstanding tradition of research and teaching about intelligence, espionage and national security. A multidisciplinary field of research, Intelligence Studies encompasses a wide range of approaches to the subject, including the study of intelligence in its historical and contemporary dimensions, along with theoretical approaches to the subject. 

Our research is published in the leading peer-reviewed academic journal in the field, Intelligence and National Security, and also in leading history journals, such as Diplomacy and Statecraft and the Historical Journal.  

We regularly supervise PhDs in intelligence studies. Recent projects include the history of the Security Executive during the 1940s; the work of the Information Research Department (IRD) in South America during the Cold War; the British intelligence community in the Balkans during the Second World War; and the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in the Global South during the Second World War. 

We also engage with intelligence and security practitioners, in both the private and public sectors. The university is part of the North West Partnership for Security and Trust (NWPST) and we have a relationship with Grey Dynamics. Such relationships offer us the opportunity to consider academic perspectives on real-world intelligence problems. 

Political Communications and Media Group

Journalism students using green screen facilities at MediaCity

Political communications research conducted in Area Studies at Salford focuses broadly on the role of the media in promoting or inhibiting democracy and democratic practice in a range of countries (notably UK, US, Russia), as well as examining the growing importance of social media in the political sphere. In particular, the research conducted has two more specific themes:

  • the use of media in political campaigns especially for mobilisation and participatory purposes. This includes, not only the role of media in traditional political activities and organisations (elections, parties and protest campaigns), but also the use of social media by terrorist and extremist groups to market themselves, radicalise and mobilise sympathisers and attract new audiences.
  • analysing the so-called dark side of digital democracy, where social media especially has been used to promote disinformation/misinformation, conspiracy theories, hate-speech and targeted online abuse. Some of which used to undermine political opponents, increase societal divisions and undermine inclusivity in modern political systems. Additionally, such tactics are also used proactively to drive propaganda campaigns with a view to winning information wars especially in current conflict zones such as Ukraine and Palestine.  

Contemporary Military History


Contemporary military history covers eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century military history. This includes the American and French Revolutionary Wars; command, technology and intelligence in the First and Second World Wars; strategic culture; air power; counterinsurgency; and comparative military history.

We combine a traditional emphasis upon military history – tactics, doctrine, logistics and technology – with a global and interdisciplinary approach that emphasises aspects of ‘new military history’ (e.g., war and society; the armed forces and popular culture; and the history of memory, race and gender). Our research has a global remit, covering British, European, North American and Asian-Pacific military history.

Our researchers have published in leading academic presses, such as Cambridge University Press, as well as articles in leading peer-reviewed journals, including Historical Research, Diplomacy and Statecraft, the Journal of Strategic Studies, the Journal of Military History, Small Wars & Insurgencies, War in History, and War & Society. They have also been the recipients of prestigious academic prizes, such as the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Book Prize.

Staff within this field have links to several external organisations, including the Army Records Society, the British Commission for Military History, and the German Armed Forces Centre for Military History and Social Sciences, Potsdam.

Politics and Contemporary History Research Centre

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Explore our Politics and Contemporary History Research Centre website to find out more about our recent projects.


Get in Touch

For more information, please contact:

Dr David Maher: d.j.maher@salford.ac.uk