Dr Richard Illingworth

Dr Richard Illingworth


I am an early career researcher and Tutor based at the School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds (UK). My PhD was completed in December 2021 at the University of Leeds.

I hold a BA (first-class) in War and Security Studies from the University of Hull, and an MA (distinction) in International Relations from the University of Leeds.

My PhD was funded through the University of Leeds Doctoral Scholarship programme. The project was supervised by Professor Adrian Gallagher and Professor Garrett Brown.


Research interests

My research is concerned with efforts to halt mass atrocities, with a specific focus on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). The R2P was near-unanimously adopted by the international community in 2005 at the UN World Summit. R2P’s aim is to protect populations against four mass atrocity crimes of: genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. 

Yet, mass violence has in-fact dramatically increased since R2P’s adoption in 2005. As was recently highlighted by the UN Secretary-General's 'Call to Action for Human Rights' (2020), 'disregard for human rights is widespread’ with 'egregious and systematic' violations in many parts of the world. What this suggests is that R2P has not led to the curbing of mass atrocity violence in the way proponents would have hoped.

My research seeks to redress this problem by exploring reforms for R2P through the perspective of Transitional Cosmopolitan theory. This involves an exploration of reform to the R2P framework itself, in addition to wider structural reforms at the international level. Such reforms are aimed at furthering R2P’s practical implementation through a cosmopolitan approach, focused on the provision of duties, justice, and human protection.

Student education:

I believe that high-quality teaching is about inspiring students of all backgrounds to fulfil their potential. As a teacher of politics and international studies, I encourage students to become critically engaged, independent thinkers, with the knowledge to understand and help address some of the key issues that shape our world. My professional recognition in student education as an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy reflects my commitment to pedagogically engaged, passionate, and committed teaching.

I have taught across a range of modules (undergraduate levels 1-3 and master’s), including on topics of international relations, political theory, and global justice. I employ an ‘active learning’ approach to both lecture and seminar delivery which emphasises student engagement to encourage critical analysis, debate, and reflexivity. My approach to feedback and supervision encourages students through constructive and actionable advice to help them achieve their academic goals.



<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA War and Security Studies (First-Class)
  • MA International Relations (Distinction)
  • PhD Politics and International Relations