Dr Nick Robinson

Dr Nick Robinson


Videogames and social media are crucial politically. At present, I am exploring the way in which war games represent conflict and the social and political consequences of games. A key question is - do military games build support in the public at large for war and conflict? In terms of social media, my work focuses on how people use social media as part of their everyday lives and how this shapes their political orientations and practices. Key questions I am engaging with are - does social media result in radicalisation and how important is the growth of military content on social media to the public?

I pride myself on a desire to make academia relevant and am actively engaged in a number of research networks, outreach to local schools and consultancy work.

I have recently held a four-year research grant from the Swedish Research Council and am working as part of a multinational research team investigating the militarization of social media and videogames.

Teaching is very important to me and complements my research interests very well and I presently teach in the fields of videogames and world politcs and popular culture and world politics. In all of this activity, I see students as integral to the production of knowledge in the contemporary university.

In acknowledgement of my practice, I have recently received the following awards.

  • University Student Education Fellow, 2015-18

  • University Teaching Fellow, 2010-12

  • BISA-HEA Award for Excellence in Teaching International Studies, 2012/13 (joint winner).


  • School Admissions Officer

Research interests

In a western context ever fewer of us have direct experience of war and conflict - instead it is mediated to us through the screen, for example via news reports, social media or popular culture. Reflecting this, my present work takes a critical approach to present issues in relation to security, with a primary focus on the way in which issues in world politics are increasingly understood in highly visual terms with powerful emotional connotations. More specifically my present work focuses on two key areas.

a) In terms of research on politics of videogaming, I explore the way in which war is represented in games - is it sanitised or does it give an authentic account of conflict? Relatedly, I look at the representation of history and historical events within videogames, and, in particular, how this resonates with moves to an increasingly nostalgic turn in world politics. Finally, I am concerned with how different peoples and cultures are represented in games and what we (as citizens) come to understand of different cultures within and through playing games. Overall, my research shows that videogames are not 'just a game' but instead have really important implications for politics and international security.

b) In terms of research on social media, with the move to near ubiquitous social media usage, I explore the way in which social media circulates and penetrates peoples everyday lives and the growing role of the public as co-producers of content. Does it matter, for example, that there is ever more military content on social media? And if so, why and how does it matter? Such questions are particularly important in light of growing political concern in relation to radicalisation, which I show has powerful links to growing militarisation of social media.

<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>


  • PhD - Politics (University of Warwick)
  • BA (hons) - Politics (Newcastle University)

Professional memberships

  • BISA executive committee member
  • Chair BISA learning and teaching committee
  • ESRC peer review college member
  • Member: EISA; ISA; PSA; BISA

Student education

I am a firm believer in the centrality of teaching-driven research and of the value of students - at all levels - as vital co-producers of knowledge. To this end, I have been at the cutting edge of innovations in audio feedback, actively pioneering this approach before the widespread adoption of digital distribution platforms, and I have driven pedagogical discussion of videogame-based learning in the social sciences. I am presently Chair of the BISA learning and teaching committee, was recent Chair of the judging panel for Politics and International Relations for the Undergraduate Awards and am recipient of multiple awards for my teaching activity.

I seek to empower and support students to deliver cutting-edge work which adds to the social capital of knowledge. The success of this is seen by the celebration of my students' work annually which is frequently described as ‘publishable’ and work of my students has been co-presented at national conferences. I have worked actively with students as knowledge producers through projects with the Leeds’ student TV station which has catapulted many students into work. I have sought to empower others in the use of audio feedback by speaking at numerous conferences and acting as consultant to other university academics in the UK and abroad. I was centrally involved in the collective response of three international associations in the recent response to the governments consultations on the Teaching Excellence Framework and the reformed A-level in Politics.

Going forward, I have secured funding to work on a systematic project examining the role of students as knowledge producers in the social sciences, through which I am supporting increasing numbers of exciting teaching-led research collaborations between staff and students. I am currently writing up my work on videogame-based learning for publication. Going forward, I will do all I can to continue to lead initiatives to celebrate best practice in teaching in HE and to emphasise the importance of teaching-driven research – an increasingly important ethos given the ever greater demands on academics to combine and demonstrate excellence in both teaching and research.

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>