Professor Stefan Wolff

Professor Stefan Wolff

Department of Political Science and International Studies
Professor of International Security

Contact details

+44 (0)121 414 8230
+44 (0)121 414 3496
View my research portal
Department of Political Science and International Studies
School of Government and Society
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

A political scientist by background, Stefan Wolff specialises in the management of contemporary security challenges, especially in the prevention and settlement of ethnic conflicts and civil wars and in post-conflict state-building in deeply divided and war-torn societies.

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Stefan Wolff Personal Webpage

Feedback and office hours

Mondays and Thursdays 9-10.30 during term time and excluding reading weeks.


  • Erstes Staatsexamen (Leipzig)
  • PhD (LSE)
  • MPhil (Cantab.)


Stefan Wolff is Professor of International Security at the University of Birmingham, England, UK. A political scientist by background, he specialises in the management of contemporary security challenges, especially in the prevention and settlement of ethnic conflicts and civil wars, and in post-conflict reconstruction, peace-building and state-building in deeply divided and war-torn societies. He has extensive expertise in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union, and has also worked on a wide range of other conflicts elsewhere, including the Middle East, Africa, and Central, South and Southeast Asia. Bridging the divide between academia and policy-making, he has been, and is, involved in various phases of conflict settlement processes, including in Iraq, Sudan, Moldova, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Kosovo.

Wolff’s publications to date include eighteen books and over twenty journal articles and book chapters. His latest monograph is Ethnic Conflict: Causes—Consequences—Responses (Polity 2009, with Karl Cordell). Published by Oxford University Press in 2006 (paperback in 2007), Wolff’s Ethnic Conflict: A Global Perspective is the first major treatment of the subject aimed at a broad general audience and has been highly acclaimed by academics, policymakers, and business leaders. His Ethnopolitical Encyclopaedia of Europe (with Karl Cordell) was published by Palgrave as the first comprehensive analysis of ethnic politics across the European continent in 2004 and has won critical praise from scholars and analysts. Among his other books are Disputed Territories: The Transnational Dynamics of Ethnic Conflict Settlement (2002); Managing and Settling Ethnic Conflicts (with Ulrich Schneckener, 2004); Peace at Last? The Impact of the Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland (with a foreword by Lord Alderdice, with Jörg Neuheiser, 2002), and Autonomy, Self-determination and Conflict Resolution (with Marc Weller, 2005), The European Neighbourhood Policy in Perspective (with Richard Whitman, 2010), the Routledge Handbook on Ethnic Conflict (with Karl Cordell, 2011), Conflict Management in Divided Societies: Theories and Practice (with Christalla Yakinthou, 2011), and The European Union as a Conflict Manager (Routledge 2012, with Richard G.Whitman). Wolff is the founding editor of Ethnopolitics, a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of ethnic conflicts and their management around the globe. Since 2010, he has also served as an Associate Editor of the journal Civil Wars.

Prior to his appointment at Birmingham, he taught at the Universities of Keele, Bath, and Nottingham and has held visiting professorships at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Bologna Center, the Universities of Sofia, Bucharest, Skopje, and Belgrade, and at Humboldt and Free University, Berlin. He is an International Associate of the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-determination at Princeton University, and a member of the International Advisory Board of the European Centre for Minority Issues in Flensburg, Germany. In 2006, Wolff served as Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the UK Defence Academy. He earned his BA at the University of Leipzig, Germany, and holds a Masters Degree from University of Cambridge and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Postgraduate supervision

I am happy to discuss dissertation and research proposals on any topic related to:

  • Ethnic conflict and conflict resolution, including post-conflict peacebuilding, state-building and international/humanitarian intervention
  • EU Common Security and Defence Policy and European security more generally
  • German history and politics, including former East Germany, reunification, and German relations with Eastern Europe


Research and academic interests

Stefan Wolff has a long-standing interest in confidence building in the context of international conflict management. He has worked with the EU, the OSCE, and the UN and UNDP on a number of confidence-building projects in support of peace processes in a diverse range of cases from Kirkuk in Iraq and Yemen, to Cyprus, the Western Balkans, and Moldova. He is currently engaged in a multi-year project with the OSCE on confidence building in the Economic and Environmental Dimension, assisting the OSCE and its participating states in finding ways to overcome legacies of distrust and deception.

Comparative Ethnopolitics

  • Ethnic Conflict Settlement, especially institutional design and the contribution by international organisations
  • External Minorities as Sources of Conflict and Cooperation within and between States
  • Democratisation, Minority Rights and Ethnic Conflict
  • Post-conflict Reconstruction and the Stability of Conflict Settlements

State Failure

  • Causes and Dynamics of State Failure
  • Regional Dimensions of State Failure
  • Policy Responses to State Failure

The German Question: Past, Present and Future

  • German Minorities Abroad
  • Ethnic Germans and Their Integration in the Federal Republic
  • The Policies of German Governments towards German Minorities Abroad
  • Expellee Organisations in the Federal Republic

More information about my research, including details of current projects and recently completed projects, as well as all of my publications and a range of working papers is available from my personal website.

Other activities

Academically, other activities include my co-editorship of the journal Ethnopolitics and co-chairmanship of the PSA Specialist Group Ethnopolitics. I am also involved in a number of research projects, including a programme on Climate Change and African Political Stability Led by Professor Alan Kuperman at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the  Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at The University of Texas at Austin.

Beyond academia, I regularly consult to governments and international organisations, particularly on issues of conflict management and resolution. Currently (and for the past several years), on of my main focal points in this respect is conflict resolution in Moldova.

I also write a semi-regular blog on a range of topics in international affairs and contribute UK and international print mediaand electronic media, including for The Conversation.

In July 2010 I gave a talk at the TEDGlobal conference on civil wars and ethnic conflict.

There is also a video interview I gave to PeerIndex in which I talk about the way in which social media have added a whole new and very valuable dimension to my work as an academic and conflict resolution practitioner that enables me to connect more and better with a broader audience.

I also write a regular column on intertational security -- Lupus de Bello -- for The Conversation


  • Selected Authored Volumes

Cordell, K. and Wolff, S. (2009) Ethnic Conflict: Causes-Consequences-Responses. Cambridge: Polity.

Wolff, S. (2006) Ethnic Conflict: A Global Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cordell, K. and Wolff, S. (2005) German Foreign Policy towards Poland and the Czech Republic. London: Routledge.

Wolff, S. (2003) The German Question. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Wolff, S. (2002) Disputed Territories. Oxford: Berghahn.

  • Selected Edited Volumes

Wolff, S. and Yakinthou, C. eds. (2011) Conflict Management in Divided Societies: Theories and Practice. London: Routledge.

Cordell, K. and Wolff, S. eds. (2011) The Routledge Handbook of Ethnic Conflict. London: Routledge.

Whitman, R. and Wolff. S. eds. (2010) European Neighbourhood Policy since 2003. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Weller, M. and Wolff, S. eds. (2008) Institutions for the Management of Ethnopolitical Conflict in Europe. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

Weller, M. and Wolff, S. eds. (2005) Autonomy, Self-governance and Conflict Resolution. London: Routledge.

Cordell, K. and Wolff, S. eds. (2004) The Ethnopolitical Encyclopaedia of Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Schneckener, U. and Wolff, S. eds. (2004) Managing and Settling Ethnic Conflicts. London: Hurst.

  • Selected Journal Articles

“The Regional Dimensions of State Failure”, Review of International Studies, vol. 37, no. 3 (June 2011), 951-972.

“Managing Ethno-national Conflict: Towards an Analytical Framework”, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, vol. 49, no. 2 (April 2011), 162–194.

“The Merits and Perils of Territorial Accommodation”, Political Studies Review, vol. 9, no. 1 (January 2011), 26-41.

“Governing (in) Kirkuk”, International Affairs, vol. 86, no. 6 (November 2010), 1361-79.

“Building Democratic States after Conflict: Institutional Design Revisited”, International Studies Review, vol. 12, no. 1 (March 2010), 128-41.

“The EU as a Conflict Manager: The Case of Georgia and Its Implications”, International Affairs, vol. 86, no.1 (January 2010; with Richard G. Whitman), 87-107.

A full list of all of my publications, many of them downloadable in PDF format, including book chapters, review essays and policy reports, as well as a range of working papers.

View all publications in research portal


Foreign, security and development policy

Stefan Wolff is an expert in international conflict management who has worked as advisor on several peace processes, including in Yemen, Iraq, Cyprus, and Moldova. He is also frequently consulting to the UK government, the EU, the OSCE, and the UN.