Dennis R. Schmidt is a Lecturer in International Relations and the Director of Postgraduate Research Studies at the Department for Politics and Cultural Studies at Swansea University. He has held fellowships and visiting posts at George Washington University, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the University of Tübingen.

Dennis’s research revolves around two, interconnected issues. First is the politics and ethics of international law and institutions, where he focuses on the normative dynamics of the laws of war and international criminal justice. Second is the area of international relations theory, including international political theory, where he concentrates on pluralism and the ethics of global governance. 

He is currently working on a British Academy-funded project that looks at the contribution of hybrid internationalized criminal courts to global justice.

Dennis is the recipient of the ISA’s International Law Section’s Best Paper Award, and his PhD thesis on normative hierarchy in international society has been shortlisted for the BISA Michael Nicholson Prize.

He is a regular contributor to various media outlets, including The Conversation, Just Security, and Die Zeit.

Areas of Expertise

  • International Relations theory
  • The politics and ethics of international law
  • Laws of war
  • International institutions
  • International criminal justice


  1. Schmidt, D. Institutionalising Morality: The UN Security Council and the Fundamental Norms of the International Legal Order. International Organization in the Anarchical Society (pp. 99-125). Palgrave Macmillan
  2. Schmidt, D. Peremptory law, global order, and the normative boundaries of a pluralistic world. International Theory, 8(2), 262-296.
  3. Schmidt, D. Mediations on the Role and Rule of Law. Journal of International Law and International Relations, 11(1), 81-84.
  4. Schmidt, D. & Trenta, L. Changes in the law of self-defence? Drones, imminence, and international norm dynamics. Journal on the Use of Force and International Law, 5(2), 201-245.


  • PO-126 Introduction to International Relations

    This course introduces students to the study of international relations(IR) focusing on especially on the evolution of international actors and systems. Next to studying key IR concepts, terms and theories of International Relations discipline such as the state, nation, anarchy security, international organisations, international economy and globalisation, the module will also elucidate both rational and critical approaches to IR ¿ particularly Liberalism, Realism, and Marxism; but also IR¿s newer theoretical schools ¿ particularly Constructivism and post- structuralism. Secondly, the module aims to improve students¿ practical academic skills, including research, reading, presentation, referencing and academic writing skills ¿ all tailored to the study of International Relations

  • PO-239 Moralities of War and Peace

    This module aims to introduce students to some fundamental issues in the morality (justifications and conduct) of war - and some other forms of political violence - and also of the morality of peacebuilding. Starting with an examination of one attempt to justify the idea of moral thinking when applied to the justification of war (Michael Walzer's influential commentary on the Melian Dialogue), the module will look in depth at the three elements of just war theory (jus ad bellum, jus in bello and jus post bellum). Particular attention will be paid to 'humanitarian intervention' and the 'responsibility to protect' (R2P). The module scrutinises the meaning of 'terrorism' as an evaluative as well as explanatory concept and explores some 'fundamentalist' justifications of violence. It analyses some implications of 'war' (eg the so-called 'war on terror') on domestic law and public policy in certain liberal democracies. The module then moves to consider some moral theories on of pacifism and non-violence. Moralities of post-conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction will be analysed, focussing upon arguments as to whether these processes can and should be 'democratic' in some sense. The module concludes with analysis of the concept of a 'perpetual peace' as proposed by Immanuel Kant and some of its modern iterations in the 'democratic peace thesis.'

  • PO-3319 Researching Politics 1

    Researching Politics (RP) provides students with the skills that underlie the process of conducting and communicating cutting-edge research in Politics and International Relations. RP works by creating topic groups, each comprised of 8-10 students. Each group will follow a bespoke course set out by their topic tutor, guiding them through the literature in a substantive research area. Students are invited to select a list of preferred options in the first teaching week of the term. This list is then used to assign students to topics and group sessions run from the second week of teaching onwards. Alongside the topic-specific teaching, there is a general lecture series focusing on discovering, analysing and presenting complex information. The lecture series also focuses on dealing with the ups and downs of working as part of a team.

  • PO-3320 Researching Politics 2

    Researching Politics 2 (RP2) is the follow-on module from RP1 and it acts as the culmination for the subject knowledge and transferable skills developed in that module. RP2 puts the creative emphasis in the hands of the students, with the module convenor and topic tutors giving guidance and feedback to facilitate the realisation of research conceived, developed, executed and presented by students. In this way, it tries to approximate the worlds of further study and work into which students will be progressing following the completion of their degree schemes. It is a module where all of the summative assessments are comprised of group work, although individual marks can be varied depending on each student¿s performance. Students are also required to submit an individual self-assessment, detailing what they have learned about their own strengths and weaknesses on the basis of the sustained group work. In RP2, you will extend and deepen the research undertaken in RP1 and continue to meet regularly in order to share ideas, opinions and sources in your groups. These meetings will include several where the topic tutor provides guidance and feedback as well as those where the meetings are student-led.

  • PO-M25 Dissertation

    Individual research based, under the guidance of appointed supervisor.

  • PO-M37 Human rights, Humanitarian Intervention and Global Justice: Moral Problems International Politics.

    This module assesses how normative political theory has addressed the key issues of human rights, the grounds for humanitarian intervention and the demands of global justice. It also assesses the idea of the 'just war', the moral character of a 'democratic peace' and conceptions of global distributive justice.

  • PO-M93 Analysing Politics and International Relations

    This module aims to introduce students to the core methods of data collection and analysis. In addition to discussing selected research methods drawing on the previous research on research methodologies, it offers an opportunity to practice using them for small-scale real-life research. The module contributes to the students¿ understanding of research methods and to their ability to choose research methodologies appropriately for their future MA dissertations and develops their practical research skills for a dissertation and in the future workplace.


  • British Counterinsurgency and Security Sector Reform: The Long-term Consequences of Prioritising Security over Development (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Krijn Peters

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Director of Postgraduate Research - Political and Cultural Studies, Swansea University

    2019 - Present

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
2018 2019 Visiting Fellow LSE Centre for International Studies
2017 2018 Postdoctoral Research and Teaching Fellow University of Tübingen
2015 2015 Visiting Scholar George Washington University

Research Groups

  • International Studies, Conflict and Security