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

1998 …2024

Allbwn ymchwil fesul blwyddyn

Proffil personol

Diddordebau ymchwil

Alistair’s main research interests are in the fields of European security, security studies, and the European Union. In particular: transboundary security challenges such as regional conflict and crises, terrorism, cybersecurity, and organised crime; EU internal and external security policies; Europe’s role in international security; NATO and Transatlantic security relations; conceptualising EU actorness and power, UK-EU security relations; and Brexit. 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 research projects include: 

A research 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.

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’ in 2013 to 2023. 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.

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.

Currently, Alistair is working on two articles and is developing his next larger research project. 

First, an article on CSDP, EU Strategic Autonomy, and EU power in the Context of the War in Ukraine. While the war has galvanised efforts to develop CSDP’s strategic autonomy, longstanding obstacles of political will, funding, prioritisation, and capabilities continue to undermine the EU’s ability to realise it’s ambitions. At the same time, efforts to enhance CSDP, respond to Russia’s aggression, and address the wider transboundary threat environment have continued to push the EU toward a less normative and a more geopolitical approach, yet it currently sits in limbo between the two. 

Second, Alistair is in the early stages of 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 developing a project on European Strategic cultures in the wake of the War in Ukraine and the implications for NATO and the EU's ambition for Strategic Autonomy in defence. 


Alistair Shepherd joined the Department in 2003 as Lecturer in European Security and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2013. He was the Acting Head of the Department of International Politics January 2023-Febraury 2024.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 most recent 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 was an Associate Editor of the Sage journal International Relations from 2015 to 2023, is on the editorial board of the Routledge journal European Security and is a Fellow of the High Education Academy. Alistair is currently External Examiner at the University of Glasgow and was previously external examiner for MA and Undergraduate degree schemes at Kent and Bath universities. 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 on the Department Management Team as the Director of Recruitment, Admissions and Marketing four times and has served also as Deputy Director for Undergraduate Studies. 


Alistair teaches primarily in the areas of European and Transatlantic security, the European Union, 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; European Security in the 21st Century; 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.

PhD Supervision areas: security studies, European & EU politics, EU foreign, security and defence policy; terrorism and counter terrorism; immigration, 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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