Dr Dennis R Schmidt is a Lecturer in International Relations and the Director of Postgraduate Research Studies at the Department for Politics and Cultural Studies. Before joining Swansea University, he was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Tübingen and a Research Fellow at Durham University. He has held visiting posts at George Washington University and the LSE. 

Dr Schmidt’s research focuses on the politics and ethics of international law and institutions, examining the laws of war, international criminal justice, and the normative dynamics of global order. He is also working on German Foreign Policy.

He 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. & 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.
  2. Institutionalising Morality: The UN Security Council and the Fundamental Norms of the International Legal Order. In International Organization in the Anarchical Society. (pp. 99-125). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  3. Peremptory law, global order, and the normative boundaries of a pluralistic world. International Theory 8(02), 262-296.
  4. Mediations on the Role and Rule of Law. Journal of International Law and International Relations 11(1), 81-84.


  • PO-119 Politics and the People

    This module introduces students to key topics of comparative politics and addresses some of the central issues of how the people are involved in politics. This module assists students in addressing central questions in comparative politics by comparing political institutions and the role of people in politics across the world. It looks at the ways in which types of political participation, electoral systems and political parties shape the ability of people to influence politics. It addresses these issues primarily in the context of key examples of states that may be defined as old and new democracies.

  • 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-395 Dissertation (PO-325)

    Subject to the approval of the Departmental Dissertations Tutor, students will choose their own area for research. They will be given guidance on research skills and techniques and supervised by a specialist research topic supervisor during the research for, and writing of, their dissertation. Dissertation word length - 8000 words.

  • PO-397 Researching Politics 2

    This module offers students a valuable experience of both individual and collective research - as well as the opportunity to study in depth an important aspect of Politics and International Relations. Students extend and deepen the research undertaken in PO-396 Researching Politics 1 and continue to meet regularly in order to share ideas, opinions and sources. In these meetings, students evaluate, criticise and analyse issues concerning the topic under investigation. Minutes of the meetings are kept and the meetings are conducted with a view to arriving at a common position that will serve as the basis for producing a collectively authored report and presentation. Each student in the group also produces a shorter individual report on their own experience of Researching Politics, in the course of which they reflect on their individual contribution to the groups output. This self-assessment is validated by the other members of the group.

  • 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.


  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    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