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Meet Dr Dennis Schmidt

Meet Dr Dennis Schmidt, Assistant Professor Programme Director of MA International Relations (Political Theory) in the School of Government and International Affairs.

Tell us about your role within your department: 

As an Assistant Professor, I teach at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. In my capacity as a programme director, I work closely with our MA IR students to make sure they succeed and get the best out of their studies.  

What first attracted you to your chosen field of expertise? 

I have always been fascinated by how human beings with different cultural backgrounds, interests, histories, and values can come together to address shared problems. This has led me to engage with questions of global governance and human diversity, which still underpin my work.  

What is your favourite subject to teach and why? 

Introduction to IR. Introducing students to the basic ideas, themes, and concepts of IR, and getting them to engage with the academic discipline of IR for the first time, has been extremely rewarding. It encourages me to take a step-back from any specialised research and, instead, think about what it means to study IR and make sense of today’s world.  

What can students expect from their first few weeks on your course? 

The first weeks will introduce the students to the breadth and depth of IR. Those weeks are about finding your feet. Students will quickly develop a feeling for the different themes and streams within IR and how to study them. A big part will also involve getting to know the department, your fellow students, and the people at SGIA.  

What do you think makes your department unique? 

SGIA combines the expertise of a large, world-leading research department with a personable and familiar atmosphere. This truly makes it a unique place to study and work. There is a real sense of community among staff and students, which extends beyond the classroom.  

What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying your course? 

Don’t be afraid of theory! If you are interested in really understanding the deeper-seated issues and questions that drive world politics, then this course offers the perfect balance between theoretical knowledge and practical application.  

What have your students gone on to do after graduating from Durham? 

Journalism, Diplomacy, NGOs, Politics, Consultancy.  

Follow me on X – @DennisRSchmidt