Alistair Shepherd

Dr, PhD in Political Science, 2003, University of Aberdeen; M.Litt in Stratgeic Studies, 1996, University of Aberdeen; MA (Hons) in Geography & International Relations, 1994, University of Aberdeen; PGCTHE 2006, University of Wales, Aberystwyth;

  • Aberystwyth University
    International Politics Building

    Teyrnas Unedig Prydain Fawr a Gogledd Iwerddon


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Alistair’s main research interests are in the fields of security studies and the European Union. In particular: contemporary transboundary security challenges such as regional conflict and crises, terrorism, cybersecurity, and organised crime; Europe’s role in international security; Transatlantic security relations; EU internal and external security policies; conceptualising EU actorness and power, and UK-EU security relations. Previously his research focused on the civilian and military aspects of the EU’s security and defence policy and its implications for the EU’s role as a security actor. Recently, Alistair has been working on a number of research projects.

First, his recent monograph (2021) critically examining the nexus between European Union internal and external security threats and responses – the EU security continuum. This examines the extent and implications of the blurring of internal-external security for the EU. In particular, it studies the political, institutional, and ethical tensions the transboundary nature of security creates in formulating policy and identifying capabilities, and its impact on the nature of the EU as an international security actor.

Second, Alistair has recently published an article on 'EU Counterterrorism, Collective Securitisation, and the Internal-External Security Nexus' in Global Affairs. The article examines the ways the EU has collectively securitised terrorism as a transboundary threat that blurs the traditional divide between internal and external security, requiring a multidimensional EU counterterrorism policy that transcends its institutional and capability silos. This collective securitisation of terrorism as a transboundary threat reshapes the nature of the EU as a security actor.

Third, he is working on a co-authored article (with Dr Michael Toomey) on 'Cultural Trauma, historical grand Narratives and Brexit'. This examines the use of cultural trauma in debates and developments in British politics from David Cameron’s ‘Bloomberg Speech’ up to 2021. Having developed its theoretical framework on the construction of narratives it explains how such narratives have been deployed, particularly by pro-Brexit members of the Conservative Party before, during, and after the country’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Fourth, Alistair is working on an article on US policies towards the European Union's security and defence policies, in the post 9-11 era. The article seeks to examine claims that the Trump administration signified a significant rupture in US-European security relations, with particular implications for the EU’s Commons Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). It examines the what extent and in ways the discourse of different US Administrations differ in relation to EU’s CSDP, the way that rhetoric is reflected in policy, and what might explain change and continuity in US attitudes to greater EU security and defence cooperation.

Finally, Alistair is in the early stages of developing a paper on the ways in which the EU has discursively and in practice contributed to the emergence of a nexus between security, migration, and development. The EU has collectively securitised migration in a way that increasingly interconnects what were traditionally internally and externally oriented departments, agencies, and institutions, and internally and externally policy tools and capabilities (notably civilian and military tools), in the pursuit of a ‘comprehensive approach’ to migration as a transboundary security threat. 

In the longer term, Alistair is working on a project on post Brexit EU foreign, security and defence policy in the era of the EU's Strategic Compass and its ambition for so called Strategic Autonomy.


Alistair Shepherd is currently the Acting Head of the Department of International Politics. He joined the Department in 2003 as Lecturer in European Security and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2013. He obtained his PhD in Political Science at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, specialising in the EU's security and defence policy. His research interests focus on European and international security and the European Union. His recently completed monograph, The EU Security Continuum: Blurring Internal and External Security, was published by Routledge in September 2021. He is also the co-author of Toward a European Army: a Military Power in the Making? (Lynne Rienner), co-editor of the volume The Security Dimensions of EU Enlargement (MUP) and author of numerous articles and chapters.

His areas of teaching include the European Union, European security and NATO, terrorism and counterterrorism and international security studies. He was shortlisted for Lecturer of the Year in 2021 and received an Award for Teaching Excellence from Aberystwyth University in 2007. He is an Associate Editor of the Sage journal International Relations, is on the editorial board of the Routledge journal European Security and is a Fellow of the High Education Academy. He has also contributed to courses for the MoD and the Jean Monnet Spring Seminars on European Security, as well contributing to Parliamentary Committee Reports and local, national and international media. Alistair has also served as the Department's Director of Recruitment, Admissions and Marketing three times and also as Deputy Director for Undergraduate Studies, as well has having been External Examiner for MA and Undergraduate degree schemes at two UK universities.


Alistair teaches primarily in the areas of European and Transatlantic security, the European Union EU and security studies. His undergraduate modules include: Contemporary Security: Theories and Threats; NATO: from Cold War to Hybrid War; Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism: Policing, Intelligence and War; Contemporary European Security; and, The European Union: Politics, Policies, Problems.

At Masters level his module include: Security Policy in the European Union, and The European Union in Crisis: Integration and Fragmentation

PhD Supervision areas: security studies, European & EU politics, Internal and external security challenges in Europe; EU foreign, security and defence policy; European approaches to internal security policy (terrorism, immigration, organised crime); NATO & Transatlantic security; National foreign, security and defence policies.


Acting Head of Department January 2023- February 2024

Arbenigedd sy’n gysylltiedig â NDC y CU

Yn 2015, cytunodd gwladwriaethau sy’n aelodau'r Cenhedloedd Unedig ar 17 o Nodau Datblygu Cynaliadwy (NDC) byd-eang i ddod â thlodi i ben, diogelu’r blaned a sicrhau ffyniant i bawb. Mae gwaith y person hwn yn cyfrannu at y NDC canlynol:

  • NDC 7 - Ynni Fforddiadwy a Glân
  • NDC 10 - Llai o Anghydraddoldeb
  • NDC 16 - Heddwch, Cyfiawnder a Sefydliadau Cadarn

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