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-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-242 Global Ethics

    This course examines key ethical issues in world politics by engaging with and applying normative approaches to the study of international relations. Can war be morally justified? What are our obligations to the world¿s poorest citizens? What are our duties and responsibilities to the environment? Starting with an overview of different theoretical perspectives on the role of ethics and morality in international affairs, the course explores the ethical dimensions of issues central to foreign policy and world politics, including the use of force, human rights and humanitarian intervention, international criminal justice, global distributive justice and global gender justice.

  • 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.


  • 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