Dr Helen Turton

Lecturer in International Politics and Security Studies
Deputy Director of Postgraduate Taught Studies

Contact Details
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 1663
Email: h.turton@sheffield.ac.uk
Room: Elmfield 108b


I joined the Department of Politics as a Lecturer in September 2015. I previously worked as a University Teacher at the University of Sheffield, and the University of Exeter. I hold a PhD in International Relations from the University of Exeter, which I was awarded in 2013.

My principal research interests are in the areas of the philosophy of social science, the sociology of knowledge, IR theory, and security studies. I primarily focus on how knowledge is produced, disciplined, and practiced within the discipline of IR.


I teach in the areas of IR theory, especially critical IR theory, and Critical Security Studies.

My teaching philosophy centers on encouraging students to think critically and to engage in reflexive practices. I believe in employing teaching methods that encourage students to develop their independence of thought, and to challenge conventional wisdom while making students aware of their constitutive and agential roles in the realm of world politics.

I am committed to thinking of innovative pedagogical practices, and I ensure that my teaching methods vary from seminar to seminar. I also make sure that each session is grounded or explore through different empirical sites. I believe the linking of theory to praxis to be incredibly important and instrumental for students at all levels. Not only does engagement with the ‘real world’ highlight the importance of theory, it also encourages students to reflect on their own practices and agency.

Professional Activities

I am currently the convener of the British International Studies Association ‘IR as a Social Science’ working group.

PhD Supervision

I am happy to supervise in areas related to critical approaches to IR theory, the sociology of IR and the sociology of knowledge. I am particularly keen to work with research students focusing on:

• Non-Western IR theory
• IR in different national/regional/global contexts
• Theory/Praxis relationship
• Politics of knowledge production
• Memory and resistance


My research is comprised of three central strands:

1. The sociology of IR
2. The relationship between theory and practice
3. Resistance practices to statebuilding

My work in the sociology of IR explores the movement of ideas within the discipline, the identity and composition of different national IR communities, the dominant global trends within IR, and empirically investigates different sites of knowledge production and exchange to interrogate widely held assumptions in the field.

Stemming from this multi-avenue area of research is a particular focus on the relationship between IR theorists and foreign/security policymakers. It questions the widely held assumption of the ‘gap’ between theory and policymakers, and explores the different forms ‘relevance’ can take. It empirically investigates both ‘sides’ and examines the different exchanges, points of contestation, and ways of bridging the ‘gap’ and the associated implications.
Building on themes from aforementioned research, I am in the preliminary stages of a new project, which draws on certain sociological concepts as a means to help understand resistance practices to statebuilding.


View full list of publications

Key publications:

Back to topBack to index of academic staff