Dr Seán Molloy

Reader in International Relations
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Dr Seán Molloy


Seán Molloy joined the School as a Reader in International Relations Theory from the University of Edinburgh in May 2013. Dr Molloy has published two books: The Hidden History of Realism: A Genealogy of Power Politics (Palgrave Macmillan: New York, 2006) and Kant's International Relations: The Political Theology of Perpetual Peace (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2017). Kant's International Relations was awarded the Susan Strange Prize for the best book in any field of International Studies by the British International Studies Association and the Sussex International Theory Prize by the Centre for Advanced International Theory. Dr Molloy has also published in leading journals such as European Journal of International Relations, International Theory, Review of International Studies, Security Dialogue, Theory & Event, Journal of International Political Theory, and Cooperation and Conflict. Dr Molloy has also written for wider, non-academic audiences on contemporary international politics in The Scotsman, The Disorder of Things, and The LSE blog

Seán's research is critical-historical and interdisciplinary in nature, encompassing IR, political theory, philosophy, and political theology. Molloy's work challenges prevailing orthodoxies in IR by returning to the texts of authors such as Hans Morgenthau and Immanuel Kant and carefully reconstructing their ideas as a whole before contrasting these detailed interpretations against the 'mythic' functions they serve in relation to contemporary IR and Political Theory. The rediscovery, reinterpretation, and further development of these positions opens up unexplored avenues of inquiry that reinvigorate the discipline as a whole.

Seán has been awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship from December 2019-December 2020 to investigate the role played by Marx and Hegel in E.H.Carr's theorisation of the role of ethics in IR. The fellowship will enable him to finish a book on Carr and ethics, the first of two books examining Realist ethics in International Relations. This project has also been supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Seán's research on Realism has also been supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and he was a Principal Investigator on the Leverhulme supported Classical Realism Meets Critical Theory international research network. 

Future book projects continue research on the connections between Philosophy and International Relations. The first of these books addresses Hegel's philosophy of politics as it applies to international relations. The second is an analysis of Hume's emphasis on the passions and how they influence political life, especially at the international level. A separate project is a cross-cultural investigation of how and why 'Realist' theories emerged in ancient Greece, China and India. Seán is also interested in the political theoretical dimensions of literature and has written articles and/or presented papers on Thomas Pynchon and William Shakespeare.

Research interests

  • ‘Classical’ Realist International Relations theory
  • Kant and International Relations theory
  • International Society/English School IR Theory
  • History of International Political Thought
  • Genealogies and other Critical-Historical / philosophical approaches to IR theory

Current projects

  • Kant and International Relations
  • Realist Ethics in International Relations




Seán is interested in supervising PhDs that critically interrogate IR theory, especially Realism, Kant and "Kantianism" in IR, and the international theory of Martin Wight and Hedley Bull. He is also interested in projects exploring political theology and IR, post-positivist IR theory and the work of certain philosophers whose work applies to IR, e.g. Nietzsche, Deleuze, Spinoza, Hume, Machiavelli. 

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