Politics Dissertation Topics and International Relations Dissertation Topics

It is absolutely vital to choose the right topic for your dissertation. The correct choice will give you the best opportunity of achieving a high grade. Essentially, you are looking to pick a topic and a question that serves to facilitate an effective critical discussion of the issues at hand, demonstrating original insight and also analysing and evaluating the significance of the literature that has already been produced in your chosen area.

Politics is an interesting area for academic research, especially with the significant political changes happening in 2020-2021, from Brexit to the coronavirus crisis and associated geopolitical changes, to the rise of China, and ongoing tensions in Eastern Europe.

To help you prepare for your politics dissertation, this article discusses international relations and politics dissertation topics related to: the post 9/11 world and terrorism, US foreign policy, British foreign policy, Africa, Russia, Eastern Europe, China, Israel, India, the Middle East, the European Union and international law. The most recent and pertinent geopolitical developments are discussed in the form of questions, to help you formulate your preferred choices.

Contents

The world since 9/11 Dissertation Topics

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 on the World Trade Centre almost 20 years ago resulted in the creation of new coalitions between Western democracies, while pushing other countries further apart. The resulting ‘war on terror’ has been ongoing ever since, albeit more quietly in recent years and has resulted in a number of complicated geopolitical shifts. This is still a very relevant area that would be ideal to base your politics dissertation topics on. Suggested international relations & politics dissertation topics include:

  • To what extent do the events of 9/11 support the ideas of Samuel Huntingdon’s ‘clash of civilisations’?
  • Was enough done in the immediate wake of 9/11 to prevent further similar acts of terrorism in the West?
  • Were the actions of the United States in the wake of 9/11 legitimate and proportionate?
  • In what ways could the events of 9/11 be said to have impacted on international relations?
  • How were international relations between the West and the Arab world influenced by 9/11?
  • What are the key political lessons learnt by the West since 9/11 and the ensuing war on terror?
  • How has trade between nations developed within the overshadowing context of the continuing war on terror?
  • What is the definition of terrorism? Is the use of force, such as targeted killings and drone attacks, a legitimate response to terrorist attacks?
  • How has the domestic security legislation of Western countries been impacted by the fear of terrorism since 9/11?
  • How have countries used the war on terror, ongoing since 9/11, to justify their own security measures?
  • Did 9/11 act as a catalyst for the political upheaval of the Arab Spring?
  • To what extent has the ongoing war on terror been used to suppress civil liberties?
  • Does the spread of terror attacks in multiple countries in recent years mean that the war on terror has failed?
  • Has Western security policy begun to move on from the post-9/11 terrorism threat, to more conventional state-based challenges such as Russia and China?

US Foreign Policy Dissertation Topics

In the latter half of the last century, US foreign policy has evolved, with the US electing to involve itself in events far across the world as a means of maintaining its position as one of the key ‘superpowers’ in the world. To discuss US foreign policy in your dissertation, you could research one of the following politics dissertation topics.

  • The US has often talked about as the ‘global policeman’ however could such terminology be construed as a cover for mere bullying?
  • Are the actions of the US in the pursuit of its national interest always legitimate under international law?
  • How, could the US be said to have overstepped its boundaries in intervening in other countries’ internal affairs?
  • The relationship between the United Nations and the US is ambivalent: to what extent do the actions of the US undermine the role of the United Nations?
  • How does the development of nuclear power in China and other Asian countries serve to reflect the negative aspects of US foreign policy?
  • In what ways does the growth of China as an economic and military superpower serve to threaten the US?
  • Twenty years of a war on terror, plus tensions with Russia and China have created a militarized US foreign policy that greatly benefits the military industrial complex, which frequently lobbies for foreign interventions. Who actually controls US foreign policy?
  • What is the most significant potential external threat to the US? How is this likely to change US foreign policy going forward?
  • US foreign policy has traditionally been one of liberal internationalism. In an unstable world where democracy and liberalism are being challenged by the growing power of China, how can liberal internationalism continue to guide US foreign policy?
  • Will the current building of the wall on the border of the US with Mexico have detrimental consequences for the global economy?
  • What does the increasing geopolitical power and influence of Russia mean for the future direction of US foreign policy?
  • How is the US likely to approach Brexit, the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union?
  • With competing priorities in the Middle East, Western and Eastern Europe, and the Indo-Pacific, does US foreign policy suffer from a lack of strategic focus, and if so, how?
  • What are the long-term consequences of the rise of ‘Trumpism’ for the United States’ foreign policy? How will the US deal with the growing isolationist and anti-war trend among its own public?
  • To what extent will the Trump policy of economically decoupling from China be continued or reversed by future Administrations?

British Foreign Policy Dissertation Topics

The United Kingdom remains an influential global power, even as its role in the world is in a state of great change due to the challenges of Brexit.  The topics below will help you research further into British foreign policy for your politics dissertation.

  • How will Brexit impact the security co-operation between the United Kingdom and Europe, particularly with reference to data sharing on criminal and terrorist suspects?
  • To what extent was the free movement of people a driver of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union?
  • With the US increasingly focused on the Indo-Pacific, what significance does the UK-US ‘special relationship’ have today?
  • On the basis of Britain’s foreign policy, is Britain little more than the “pet” of the US?
  • How influential is Britain’s foreign policy on the rest of Europe?
  • How can Britain utilise its economic, military, and diplomatic power to improve its position in the global sphere in the wake of Brexit?
  • What would be the implications of a Labour government for British foreign policy in the Middle East?
  • Is Brexit likely to reduce the influence that Britain still wields in global affairs, and in what ways?
  • Post-Covid, is a close UK relationship with China still practical and viable?
  • Is the previous interventionist approach of Britain to foreign policy politically and economically sustainable with significant post-Covid economic constraints on the horizon?
  • How can the United Kingdom keep itself together in the wake of challenges to the Union from Northern Irish and Scottish independence movements?
  • What strategic security approaches should the UK take to minimize the risk of instability in Northern Ireland post-Brexit?
  • Does the UK still hold relevance and significance for the US as an ally, with major budgetary cuts to the British Armed Forces coming in the aftermath of the Covid crisis?
  • How can Britain’s foreign policy be revitalised through the linking of trade and economic priorities to diplomacy and security?

Africa Dissertation Topics

  • Africa’s relations with the rest of the world have historically often been problematic because of the prevalence of state and ethnic conflict, as well as the autocratic nature of many African governments. Growing Chinese involvement in Africa is also a concern. Together with significant developmental challenges, Africa is a rich area for discussion and analysis of many facets of international relations from war to economic growth and the aftermath of colonialism. Have Western interventions only served to make matters worse in Africa?
  • To what extent could the political tensions between communities and ethnic groups in Africa today have been affected by colonial rule?
  • To what extent could ancient tribal traditions and religious beliefs hold some responsibility for the problems between African nations?
  • What are the key causes of problems between African nations and how do they affect their relationships with the West?
  • What efforts have been made by the rest of the world to resolve the tensions between warring African nations? How successful have they been?
  • How are relations between African nations likely to develop in the future?
  • How successful has the African Union been in resolving Africa’s challenges and providing a voice for Africa on the global stage?
  • How effective have efforts at negotiation and conciliation between warring African ethnic groups been? How relevant are Western political ideals in an African setting?
  • In what ways is Africa a destabilising regional force in global politics?
  • In what ways is the rise of an African middle class changing its politics?
  • How are Islamist terror organisations exploiting local African conflicts?
  • How effective have African counterterrorism efforts been in recent years?
  • How has Africa been politically excluded by the international community, and to what extent can this be rectified?

Russia and Eastern Europe Dissertation Topics

Russia remains a critical swing power, as a military peer of the US and a large economy, however the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union has seen some significant changes in Eastern Europe. Countries in Eastern Europe are looking to align more with the West, potentially increasing mutual enmity between Russia and the West. To base your dissertation in this area, you could use one of the following topics.

  • How has the collapse of the Soviet Union served to influence international relations between Eastern Europe and the West?
  • With the formation of a ‘Single Europe’, has the opening up of the EU to Eastern European countries served to hinder or help this ideal?
  • Why were Eastern European countries so susceptible to Soviet rule? What changed?
  • How successfully have Eastern European countries been integrated into the EU?
  • How will the rise of China impact on Russia’s relationship with the West?
  • What are the most significant problems for the EU caused by the entry of Eastern European States?
  • Why is Russia still considered to be such a threat to Western ideals?
  • Has the Cold War ever really stopped?
  • How did Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and support for rebel forces in Ukraine cause a break in relations with the West?
  • In the aftermath of the war in Crimea, will ‘hybrid war’ be part of a renewed Russian threat to the West?
  • On the basis of past relations, why does Russia still look to distance itself from the West?
  • On the basis of relations between Russia and the US, why have they never actually declared war?
  • Has the threat posed by Russia to the countries of Eastern Europe been neglected?
  • To what extent does Russian influence impact upon an increasingly fragmented European Union?
  • In the light of China’s growing power, is Russia’s preeminent role in Eurasian politics and security likely to continue?
  • Is a Sino-Russian military alliance feasible, and what are the implications for European security?
  • How will Russian hacker attacks on US elections impact on Russia’s relationship with the West? Are such attacks a new method of external political influencing, or merely an extension of Cold War era sabotage?
  • Nord Stream 2 is a highly controversial energy project. Does it increase Russian-German mutual interdependence, or does it only serve to enhance Russian leverage as alleged by the US?

Chinese Politics Dissertation Topics

In the latter part of the 20th century, whilst the Chinese government still maintained its distinctly communist ideals, the country became increasingly open to Western views on economic growth and technology, blended together with a view to rapid growth. Starting with Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in the 1980s, to the current President Xi Jinping, Chinese economic and political approaches are the subject of much speculation. There is a lot to be discussed here, and below are some suggested topics for your politics dissertation.

  • To what extent have Western politics and ideals influenced China?
  • Why did China elect to ‘open’ what had previously been a distinctly closed economy?
  • In what way can Deng Xiaoping’s reforms be seen to have moved the Chinese economy towards Western capitalism?
  • Is China is considered a threat to Western ideals? Discuss.
  • How could China’s rapid economic growth be considered a good thing for the West?
  • Why have greater efforts not been made by the West to forge closer relations with the Chinese?
  • How could Chinese political ideals be said to have influenced Western politics? Has this been for the better?
  • Why, when the power of the Soviet Union was considered such a threat, were greater efforts not made to overthrow China’s communist rule?
  • How can China be viewed with such suspicion, when the West is largely responsible for its growth? Discuss.
  • What impact will the Covid crisis have on the Western relationship with China going forward? How will China’s crackdown in Xinjiang impact relations with the West?
  • What are the potential gains and losses for China in trying to take Taiwan by military force?
  • How will the growing hostility between China and India shape the global economic, security and political environment?
  • To what extent does China’s human rights record make relations with the West complex?
  • Is growing Chinese military power a threat to Russia in Siberia?
  • In what ways has President Xi Jinping reversed the policies of predecessors such as Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Xemin?
  • What impact does Xi Jinping’s appointment to rule ‘indefinitely’ have on the potential for democracy in China?
  • Does the Chinese model of state capitalism undermine the western view that capitalism and democracy ‘go hand in hand’?

Israel and The Middle East Politics Dissertation Topics

There have long been significant difficulties in the relationship between the Arabs and the Israelis, mainly centered upon the recognition of a Palestinian State, which has led to many armed conflicts and complications in relationships with other countries. The Middle East also features tensions involving Iran, as well as controversy over the lack of regional democracy. If you are stuck for ideas for your politics on a Middle East centered dissertation, the following topics may be useful for you to research.

  • What have been the main difficulties blocking the creation of a Palestinian State?
  • How have relations between the Arabs and the Israelis served to influence their relationships with Western States?
  • Why has the Arab-Israeli conflict gone on for so long?
  • What is the most significant event that most effectively symbolises the breakdown of relations between the Arabs and the Israelis?
  • How successful have Western attempts proved to be in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict?
  • To what extent can a two state solution be implemented in Israel and Palestine while settlements are still being built on Palestinian territory?
  • With the expansion of Israeli settlements, are the prospects of a two-state solution dead?
  • Can a Palestinian State ever be recognised?
  • Compare and contrast the recognition sought for a Palestinian State with that of Tibet – which is more likely?
  • Why were events not resolved when the Arab-Israeli conflict descended into war?
  • What role should the United Nations play in resolving the Arab/Israeli conflict?
  • To what extent has former President Trump’s announcement to move the US Israeli embassy to Jerusalem impacted on Israeli/Palestinian relations?
  • What impact has the Arab Spring had on Arab/Israeli relations?
  • To what extent can the Palestinian Authority be seen as an autonomous state government?
  • Is there potential for an Israeli-Palestinian deal, now that many Arabs states such as the UAE have recognized Israel?
  • How will the Israeli-Russian relationship impact on Syria and the wider Middle East?
  • How has the Arab Spring failed to deliver on its early promise?
  • In what ways will ongoing Arab-Iranian antagonism impact on the Middle East?
  • Is the Arab world well positioned for a post-oil future?

India Dissertation Topics

India is widely regarded as a rising superpower, and a potential democratic counterbalance to China, in the West. The recent Coronavirus crisis, where Indian manufactured vaccines proved pivotal, underscore how Indian capabilities and confrontation with China will play a role in international relations going forward. Check out some useful ideas for India-related dissertation topics below for international relations and politics.

  • What learnings are there for the rest of the world from Indian experience of counterterrorism?
  • What are the possible gains for the UK in pursuing a close post-Brexit partnership with India?
  • How can India contribute to the ‘Quad’ of Japan, Australia, India and the US in balancing China?
  • How has the export of Covid vaccines altered global perceptions of India?
  • What is the impact of India-Pakistan tensions on UK security?
  • Why has democracy succeeded in India?
  • How has colonialism shaped Indian attitudes to the West?
  • How can India balance development and poverty alleviation with the security challenges in its neighbourhood?
  • What contribution could India make to stabilizing Afghanistan?
  • How will growing Russian-Chinese relations impact on Indian security?

European Union Dissertation Topics

The EU served to cement relations between the countries that were party to the Union with a view to establishing closer ties between the nations on all social, political and economic matters, for the good of the EU and its many member states. Recent political dissatisfaction with the European Union has caused members to think again about the role and the purpose of the institution, not least with the UK referendum vote to leave. There are many subjects to be discussed and researched for your politics dissertation regarding the European Union.  Some of these are suggested below.

  • How could the EU be considered flawed in forming closer political relations between member states?
  • Why could the EU be considered discriminatory to the formation of relations with nations beyond it? How could it be considered little more than a ‘boys club’?
  • How has rapidly increasing the number of member countries in the EU impacted on previous ideals and relationships between existing EU members?
  • To what extent has the EU’s formation been influenced by the historical understanding of the formation of the US?
  • What aspect of the EU could be considered most detrimental to international relations? Why? What does this mean for the political standing of the Union?
  • Can the EU’s move towards ‘shared security’ be seen as a threat to the existence of NATO?
  • Is the EU capable of being a single actor in the defense and security sphere?
  • Are the symbols and tools of statehood, such as flag, anthem and legislature justified for the EU?
  • To what extent has a ‘Single European Entity’ been achieved? In the context of international relations, is this a good thing?
  • Why was a ‘Single European Entity’ not possible sooner? Why were international relations not previously conductive to it?
  • To what extent could the EU be said to be similar to the Soviet Union? Does this mean the Soviet Union was a good thing?
  • What impact has the UK vote to leave the EU had on how other member states view the Union?
  • How important is the EU in keeping the peace in Northern Ireland? Compare and contrast with the role of NATO in Europe?
  • How have far right movements across Europe impacted on the stability of the European Union?
  • What role has large scale migration from the Middle East played on satisfaction with EU membership across Europe?
  • Is EU foreign policy too heavily weighted towards the interests of Germany and France, at the expense of smaller member states?
  • Do energy projects such as Nord Stream 2, and continued scrambles for Middle East oil underscore the need for a renewed sustainable energy policy for Europe?
  • How has the flawed Covid response by the EU, especially for the procurement of vaccines, impacted on public perceptions of the EU?
  • Has the distribution of Coronavirus vaccines in Europe been equitable, with each member country getting a fair share? What will be the political impact of the delays in vaccine deployment and distribution?
  • Can the EU survive the Coronavirus crisis? Has a perceived slow response to Coronavirus damaged the EU?

International relations after the Second World War Dissertation Topics

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, in Europe in particular, many countries faced a great deal of problems as they sought to rebuild. Social unrest and economic instability were particularly prominent, as people struggled to justify their identity and actions, whilst many in authority took advantage of this instability. This was an important time in politics, and a topic relating to international relations after the Second World War would make for an interesting politics dissertation.

  • How could the role played by the US in the immediate aftermath of the War be said to be illustrative of the position they took on in international relations and politics?
  • To what extent did the US ‘take advantage’ of Europe’s decreased position after the war to increase its own power?
  • Was the Marshall Plan ultimately beneficial or detrimental to Europe’s economic recovery?
  • To what extent was Germany’s division illustrative of the state of international relations at this time? Would a ‘united’ Germany have led to closer international relations?
  • How did the state of Europe in the wake of war make many countries susceptible to the Soviet Union and their communist ideals?
  • What was the aim of the Allied Powers in WWII? Did they achieve them?
  • How were European relations effectively structured for the next fifty years by the immediate aftermath of the war? Is this still the case?
  • How did the ‘Cold War’ start? What were its most significant influences on international relations?
  • How did the effects of the ‘Cold War’ spread so quickly? How was it resolved?
  • What was the biggest achievement in international relations in the aftermath of War?
  • How successful were the reparations provided by the US in securing countries against the threat provided by the Soviet Union?
  • Why were nuclear weapons developed? How did they affect international relations?
  • To what extent did World War II directly lead to the creation of the EU?

International law Dissertation Topics

International law provides the framework for international relations to function. However it is adhered to only selectively by Great Powers, and sometimes by smaller countries too.  When and where is the application of international law ideal? Here are some great suggestions on international law for your politics dissertation.

  • In what ways has the law of the EU served to influence relations between the member states? Has this always been a good thing?
  • Why does the law punish some countries when they break it, whilst others are left to their own devices? Discuss.
  • How successful has the United Nations proved to be as a law enforcement agency?
  • Is the US above the law? Discuss with examples.
  • Why are countries like China and Russia allowed to get away with breaches of the law as it stands internationally, whilst Iraq and Afghanistan are punished?
  • Were the actions of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan legitimate?
  • Is the use of force ever justified by international law?
  • What reforms are needed by international law to improve international relations? Are such reforms likely?
  • In the face of complex politics, can international law ever be universally applicable?
  • To what extent are all countries ‘equal in the eyes of the law’?
  • What role does international law have to play in the use of drone strikes?
  • Can international law be effective in a digital age?
  • Why has international law proven unable to find a resolution to the Syrian conflict?
  • How can international law be enforced against Great Powers, many of whom routinely flout it in pursuit of their interests?

 

 

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