Research at SPIRe

SPIRe staff and research centres are pursuing and publishing cutting-edge scholarly research on a wide variety of topics, many of which are directly relevant to the analytical needs of government and voluntary organisations at the national, European and international levels. The School's substantive and methodological strengths reflect the multi-disciplinary character of its staff.

Much of SPIRe's research activity is associated with the initiatives of the School's four research centres, all of which have strong national and international networks:

All members of SPIRe's academic staff are involved in individual and collaborative research projects in a variety of fields. For details on projects and publications, consult the staff's personal pages.

SPIRe also hosts an interdisciplinary seminar series during the academic year

In geographic terms, SPIRe has a long-standing reputation for excellence in the study of Irish politics (including the Republic, Northern Ireland, and cross-border issues) and European politics (including the national and EU levels). Other staff members contribute expertise on the Middle East, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. This geographic expertise cuts across the various thematic topics listed below.

In thematic terms, SPIRe has an international reputation for cutting-edge scholarship in the following areas, each of which has multiple academic staff including at least one at professorial level.

  1. Justice, Human Rights and Citizenship. The normative foundations of justice and the conditions for maintaining a liberal state in circumstances of pluralism; citizenship and the constitution of membership over time; the significance of cosmopolitan values for national sovereignty and global distributive justice.

  2. Nationalism, Ethnicity and Conflict. National and group identity formation; micro-macro linkages between individual identities, group behavior and institutional structures; institutional strategies for preventing or resolving identity-based conflict.

  3. Representation and Public Policy: Irish and Comparative Perspectives. State structures, political reform, and democratization; public opinion, voting and lobbying; the design and implementation of public policy.

  4. European and International Integration. The role of state, non-state and supranational actors in integration; the evolution of supranational institutions and identities; the dynamics of intergovernmental negotiation and multi-level governance.

  5. Political Economy and International Development. The determinants of economic development in industrialized and developing countries; the impact of globalization on economic development, social and ecological sustainability; the politics of international trade and finance.

  6. Politics and Data Science: The Connected_Politics Lab is an interdisciplinary hub for researchers using computational methods to study politics and society. Our research interests include computational social science; big data; machine learning; quantitative text analysis; network analysis; agent-based modelling; Bayesian statistics; data mining and visualisation.

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SPIRe Seminar Series Programme

This is the schedule for Autumn Trimester, 2020-21

If you wish to attend any of these virtual seminars, please contact Dr Richard Maher -

Wednesday 28 Oct, 1pm Philipp Genschel (European University Institute) Postfunctionalism Reversed: Solidarity and Rebordering during the Corona-Crisis
Wednesday, 18 Nov, 1pm Laura Seelkopf (University of St Gallen) The Worldwide Rise and Fall of Inheritance Taxation
Wednesday 2 Dec, 1pm Sandra Destradi (University of Freiburg) Populism and Foreign Policy

To Register for the NPEE Seminars, please Click Here

In the Dublin Political Theory Workshop we discuss work in progress in the area of policial theory widely understood including debates on applied ethics and social and legal philosophy.

If you are interested to discuss your work with us, please do not hesitate to get in touch via our blog


You can view the annual return of publications from staff in the School by viewing Research Publications by School and you can also access many of the publications in full text at Research Repository UCD. Below are some of our more recent publications.


Publications by year

UCD SPIRe Publications 2015-2016

UCD SPIRe Publications 2014-2015

UCD SPIRe Publications 2013-2014

UCD SPIRe Publications 2012-2013

UCD SPIRe Publications 2011-2012

UCD SPIRe Publications 2010-2011

UCD SPIRe Publications 2009-2010


The Peter Mair Library

The Peter Mair Library on Comparative Party Politics is located in the Boardroom of UCD School of Politics and International Relations. This collection of books and papers formed the working (office) library of the late Peter Mair from his time at the European University Institute, Florence — his final place of work up to his untimely death in August 2011. Peter was a renowned political scientist whose work centred in particular on political parties and representative democracy (for more, see  The book collection originated in Manchester, where Peter had moved in the 1980s after his first stint at the EUI.  In an unfortunate accident many of his books had been destroyed in a warehouse fire.  A number of Peter’s colleagues and friends clubbed together to replenish his book stocks from scratch — a measure of already just how high he was held in the esteem of other party scholars.  This book collection then followed him from Manchester to Leiden and on to his final office in Villa San Felice on the hills of San Domenico just outside Florence.  The collection has now returned home to UCD SPIRe, Peter’s alma mater.  Indeed, it is located in the very room where he studied as a post-graduate student. The Peter Mair Library was kindly donated to UCD SPIRe by Peter’s family, his wife Karin and their children Cathleen, John and Tessa.

Peter Mair Collection Catalogue

The Library is available for access by prior appointment.

A number of colleagues from Peter’s past visited UCD at an event to mark the arrival and cataloguing of the collection.

Peter Mair Collection Photo 1

Former students and colleagues of Peter Mair (L-R): Professor
Richard Sinnott (UCD); Professor David Farrell (UCD); Professor
Jean Blondel (Sienna) and Professor Lieven De Winter (Louvain)

Peter Mair Collection Photo 2

Party and comparative politics scholars examining the 
book collection (L-R): Professor David Farrell (UCD); 
Dr Derek Hutcheson (Malmo); Professor Brigid Laffan (EUI)
and Professor Richard Sinnott (UCD)

The SPIRe Podcast Series

Here you will find monthly interviews with School staff and visiting scholars to provide an insight into the workings of the oldest and largest school of its kind in the Republic of Ireland.

Computational approaches to politics

Researchers associated with this theme apply cutting-edge computational analyses to topics such as the rise of populism, political ideology, electoral campaigning, and media personalisation, as well as regime
transitions, legislative politics, policy agendas, discourse, protest behaviour, and political violence. This research theme is hosted at the Connected_Politics Laboratory. Sign up for our newsletter here 

Please note that, due to Covid-19, the Visiting Scholar scheme for 2020/21 has been cancelled.
The details below are for informational purposes only.
We hope to resume the scheme again for 2021/22

The School of Politics and International Relations at UCD operates a Visiting Scholar Scheme with periods up to 12 months' residency available, and accepts visiting academics from a variety of career stages. The aim of the scheme is to encourage collaboration between international academics and SPIRe researchers. 

Scheme structure

The scheme has two strands:

  • Visiting Scholars (late stage PhD and up to 3 years post-PhD)
  • Senior Visiting Scholar (more than 3 years post-PhD)

The typical stay will be one term, but visits can be up to one year.  


  • Visitors will be supported by a 'host' member of SPIRe staff.
  • All visitors will contribute to SPIRe working paper series.
  • All visitors can attend and will participate in SPIRe seminar series (deliver one seminar).
  • Early career scholars can participate in PhD workshops.
  • Senior Visiting Scholars may be asked to offer informal mentorship to PhD students.
  • Visitors will be listed on SPIRe website. 
  • All Scholars will have IT and library access.
  • Office space may be provided, dependent on availability. 


  • Opportunity to deliver guest lectures in modules or other teaching.
  • Attend modules (early career)

Application requirements

  • The primary application criteria of the scheme is that applicants is supported by a member of SPIRe faculty (the 'host'). It is up to applicants to identify their host and request a letter or email of support.  
  • The 2020-21 scheme has been cancelled.  
  • Please submit a short cover letter including brief description of work intended at SPIRe, CV, and letter or email of support as your application, to 

Terms of the Visiting Scholar scheme

The aim of this scheme is to foster collaboration, so the direct relationship with a host staff member at SPIRe  is crucial to the scheme.

The following will be offered and expected:

  • Space - Early Career Visiting Scholars will be given access to shared workspace with hotdesking in the School.
  • Space - Senior Visiting Scholar will be given own office space.
  • IT and library access.
  • Attendance and presentation at SPIRe seminar series.
  • Contribution to SPIRe Working Papers series.
  • Featured on SPIRe website as visiting scholar with biographical note.
  • Participate in PhD workshop (early career)
  • Meet with PhD students to discuss substantive or methodological challenges in their work (senior).

Optional features of scheme

  • Opportunity to deliver guest lectures in modules, if of interest.
  • Attend modules (early career)

Shorter visits:

Note that shorter visits (e.g. of co-authors) will still be accommodated and take place “outside” this new scheme.