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MA Dissertation Conference

The 2017 MA Conference: 25th-26th May

The MA Dissertation Conference is hosted annually by students of the PAIS Department, University of Warwick. The conference aims to provide a platform for MA students to present their provisional dissertation plans and discuss their ideas with academics and peers to help them refine and improve their plans prior to the deadline.

Whilst we recognise the importance of peer-to-peer learning and a relaxed atmosphere for constructive feedback on current research, we also want to bring participants into contact with the newest research, research methods and topics conducted by experts. This year, we have invited Renske Doorenspleet, Catherine Jones, and Ben Richardson, three experts from their respective fields to be our esteemed keynote speakers for the Dissertation Conference.

Furthermore, this year we have decided to round up the conference with a riveting panel discussion on the future of globalization. Our three expert panellists, Madeleine Fagan, Marijn Nieuwenhuis, Shirin Rai will give their opinions, analysis and projections on the topic, which will touch on many of the issues raised during the conference and will no doubt entail some heated debate!

Finally to give you as much and as well-rounded support as possible we have invited Warwick PAIS PhD students to participate in our dissertation clinics! The Dissertation Clinics will be informal drop-in sessions conducted at specific times throughout the day that allow you to meet with a PhD student from the same academic field and ask them specific questions with regards to your topic or research methods. Many of them will also be leading the break-out sessions where you will able to present and discuss your dissertation plans.

The event is surely one not to be missed! Not only will it provide much needed support, direction and feedback on your research and proposed methods but it is a great opportunity to engage with experts on their own research, pitfalls they’ve encountered and strategies to avoid them. IF that wasn’t enough…. there will be free tea, coffee and snacks available throughout the conference, with buffet lunches provided both days. Ideally, you should not be coming just for the food and drink, but hey, your brain does require energy to function. The closing ceremony will be followed by a BBQ, held on the grounds, including a celebration and a musical treat to finish on a high!

Keynote Speakers

Thursday 9:15 – Renske Doorenspleet


Mainly educated in the Netherlands, Renske undertook a PhD in political science at Leiden University, and received several national and international awards for her work. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University (USA), she started a research project on democracy in divided countries, which was funded by the Dutch National Science Foundation. Based on her work, she was asked to advise the UK's Foreign Office, but she also worked with theatre groups to create new shows in relation to the meaning and shape of democracy in contemporary times. Renske's general research interests are in democratic transitions and consolidation, political institutions, party systems in Africa, quantitative and qualitative methodology.

Thursday 14:00 – Catherine Jones


Catherine Jones is an East Asia post-doc research fellow at the University of Warwick, where she has been researching China’s role in international institutions, normative and ideological change, and East Asian regionalism. Previously, she has written on China’s engagement with international institutions, with a particular focus on the ideological dimension of the challenge that China is supposed to present. Her further research fields include the concept of ‘security’ and ‘development’ in response to the rise of China and Asia as a region. She has a particular interests to the changes happened to the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.

Friday 9:00 – Ben Richardson


Ben Richardson is an associate professor at the University of Warwick, where his main focus of research is the international political economy of sugar. His book, Sugar: Refined Power in a Global Regime was shortlisted for the BISA International Political Economy Group book of the year. In his later work, Sugar, under an eco-Marxist framework, argues that multinational companies have advanced the mass consumption of sweetened snacks in the Global South and underpinned a new wave of foreign investment in sugar production. He started working on a two-year collaborative ESRC Standard Grant called: Working Beyond the Border? EU Trade Agreement and International Labour Standards since September 2015. He is also actively involved in non-governmental organisations, and have made contributions to public reports concerning the sugar industry.

Dissertation clinics participants & break out sessions’ facilitators

PAIS PhD students working on topics such as International Relations in Asia Pacific; Citizenship, Migration and Domestic Labour; Political Geography, Urban Politics, Middle East; The crisis of security concepts and popular culture; Governance of the Asylum seekers; EU; Foreign Policy analysis; gender and International Security, non-state political violence and many others.

Panel Discussants – The Future of Globalization

Madeleine Fagan, Marijn Nieuwenhuis, and Shirin Rai

The panel discussion will involve an informed debate by the speakers based on insights from their distinctive fields. Questions will be posed on the nature of globalisation, how we arrived at this point and on the relationship with contemporary politics and international relations. The panellists will ultimately seek to answer the question: what is the future of globalisation? Topics will touch on:

  1. Critical Globalization Studies
  2. (Neoliberal) Globalization or Imperialism?
  3. Emerging World Powers & Post American Era
  4. Globalisation and Localisation
  5. Network Society
  6. Ecology and Sustainability


Madeleine Fagan: International Relations

Current research lies at the intersection of international politics and contemporary political theory. The politics of ethics: How are different understandings of ethics used to justify political decisions and practices?

Marijn Neuwenhuis: Security, Migration crisis, Rising Powers: China’s Role

Current research focuses on the 'politics of the air' and deals with questions of technology, pollution, security, territory and governance with a specific focus on these in the context of China.

Shirin M. Rai: Development: Economic development, Inequality, Sustainability and Gender

Shirin has written extensively on issues of gender, governance and development. Her current work has three strands: feminist international political economy, gender and political institutions and politics and performance.

Conference Registration

We know that you’re interested.

For the hassle-free registration to our conference, whether you want to present, or to participate, please see below the section that applies to you and register accordingly.

For Presenters

By 11/05, please submit your provisional dissertation title as well as a couple of sentences explaining your topic to, so that we can allocate you to the appropriate panel.

We will then let you know which break-out session we have assigned you to, who and when should you meet during dissertation clinics as well as some further details on the preparation.

For Participants

Just to keep track on the numbers, we still require you to register through the link above. If you wish to participate in dissertation clinics please do email us on stating the topic of your research.


In 2017, we are planning to go BIG on socials.

We shall see you in the Terrace Bar, for our end-of-day gathering on Thursday, and we have a Barbeque and after-Conference party in the Grad Deck on the final evening; oh, and we plan to bring in wine into the conference, now and again.


Day 1 (25/05)

8:30-9:00 Registration, welcoming

09:00-09:15 Opening Speech and introducing information

09:15-10:30: Keynote Speech from Renske Doorenspleet

10:30-11:00: Tea Break

11:00-13:00: Session 1 (breakout session)

13:00-14:00: Lunch break (with optional tea if possible in budget)

14:00-14:30: Keynote Speech from Catherine Jones

15:00-15:30: Tea Break

15:30-17:30: Session 2 (breakout session)

17:30-Open end: Dissertation Clinic

18:00-open end: Terrace Bar

Day 2 (26/05)

09:00-10:00: Keynote Speech from Ben Richardson

10:00-10:30: Tea Break 1

10:30-12:30: Session 3 (Breakout session)

12:30-13:30: Lunch break (with optional tea if possible in budget)

13:30-14:00: Dissertation Clinic

14:00-15:30: Session 4 (Breakout session)

15:30-16:00: Tea break 2

16:00-17:30: Final Panel Discussion "Future of Globalisation" by Our Panel Discussants

17:30-18:00: Closing remarks

18:00-open end: BBQ


This should do, but if you are really smart and figure out something that we did not, email us at: pais dot con2017 at gmail dot com

By the way, Facebook users, make sure you also indicate your attendance here: