Dr Laurence Cooley

Dr Laurence Cooley

International Development Department

Contact details

International Development Department
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Laurence Cooley is a political scientist whose research investigates the relationship between social identities and political institutions, with a focus on power-sharing institutions and the politics of the census. Between 2017 and 2019, Laurence was an ESRC Future Research Leader, and has been Lecturer in the International Development Department since November 2019. He previously taught in both the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) and the Centre for Russian and East European Studies (CREES). He is also a Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen's University Belfast.

Feedback and office hours

  • Office hours by appointment


  • PhD Political Science and International Studies, University of Birmingham, 2013
  • MA Political Science (Research Methods), University of Birmingham, 2008
  • MA Politics, Queen's University Belfast, 2006
  • BSc Economics and Politics, Bath, 2004
  • Associate, Higher Education Academy


Laurence came to the University of Birmingham in 2007 to start an ESRC-funded MA and PhD. Previously, he studied at the University of Bath and Queen's University Belfast, and worked at the Institute for Public Policy Research in London. His PhD on the EU's approach to conflict resolution in the Western Balkans was supervised by Thomas Diez, Michelle Pace and Tim Haughton. During his PhD, Laurence spent time as a visiting student at both the Centre for EU Studies at Ghent University and the Penn Program in Ethnic Conflict at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2013, Laurence was appointed as a Teaching Fellow in IDD, following a period as a visiting lecturer in POLSIS and CREES and as part-time Impact and Outreach Assistant for the GSDRC. Between February 2017 and January 2019, he was a Research Fellow funded by the ESRC Future Research Leaders scheme, working on a project about the relationship between power sharing and the politics of the census in deeply divided societies. He was appointed as Lecturer in November 2019. He is also currently a Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen's University Belfast.


In the 2019-20 academic year, Laurence is responsible for convening or co-convening the following modules:

  • Conflict and Development (distance learning)
  • International Development (on campus and distance learning)
  • Development Theory and Practice

Previously, Laurence has co-convened or contributed to a number of other undergraduate and postgraduate modules, including:

  • War Torn States and Post-Conflict Reconstruction in the South
  • Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (on campus and distance learning)
  • Governance and State Building in Developing Countries
  • Development Politics (on campus and distance learning)


Laurence's core research interest is in the relationship between social identities and political institutions. His PhD research, which was undertaken in Birmingham's Department of Political Science and International Studies, explored the EU's approach to conflict resolution in the Western Balkans, and sought to explain the apparent preference of EU actors for consociational power-sharing mechanisms of managing conflict in deeply divided societies. The main outcome of this research was his first monograph, published as part of the Routledge Studies in European Foreign Policy series in 2019. Following the completion of his PhD, Laurence expanded his focus on power-sharing institutions to explore their role in the governance of sport in post-conflict states.

From February 2017 to January 2019, Laurence worked on a postdoctoral project, funded by the ESRC Future Research Leaders scheme, which investigated the relationship between census politics and the design of power-sharing institutions, with a particular empirical focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kenya, Lebanon and Northern Ireland. He is currently working on a number of publications resulting from this project and has started a further stream of research, funded a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant, into the politics of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data collection through national censuses.

Other activities

Member of:

  • Association for the Study of Nationalities
  • International Political Science Association (Research Committee 14: Politics and Ethnicity)
  • Political Studies Association (Ethnopolitics Specialist Group)
  • European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on South East Europe

Professional appointments:

  • Co-editor, International Studies Today (2012-2014)


Cooley, L. (in press) 'Census politics in Northern Ireland from the Good Friday Agreement to Brexit: Beyond the "sectarian headcount"?', British Journal of Politics and International Relations, advance access, doi: 10.1177/1369148120959045

Cooley, L. (2020) 'Consociationalism and the politics of the census in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Northern Ireland', Political Geography 82: 102248, doi: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2020.102248

Cooley, L. (2020) 'Sexual orientation and the 2021 UK census', European Journal of Politics and Gender 3(3), pp. 445-7, doi: 10.1332/251510820X15845548424385

Cooley, L. (2020) 'Census politics in deeply divided societies', in Richmond, O. and Visoka, G. (eds.) The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Peace and Conflict Studies, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-11795-5_19-2

Cooley, L. (2019) 'To be a Bosniak or to be a citizen? Bosnia and Herzegovina's 2013 census as an election', Nations and Nationalism 25(3), pp. 1065-86, doi: 10.1111/nana.12500

Cooley, L. (2019) The European Union's Approach to Conflict Resolution: Transformation or Regulation in the Western Balkans?, London: Routledge 

Cooley, L. (2018) 'The governance of sport in deeply divided societies: Actors and institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus and Northern Ireland', in Rofe, J.S. (ed.) Sport and Diplomacy: Games within Games, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 13-33, doi: 10.7765/9781526131065.00010

Cooley, L. and Mujanović, J. (2016) 'Population Politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Reply to Bochsler and Schläpfer', Ethnopolitics 15(5), pp. 487-92, doi: 10.1080/17449057.2016.1190159

Marquette, H. and Cooley, L. (2015) 'Corruption and post-conflict reconstruction', in Jackson, P. (ed.) Handbook of International Security and Development, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 349-69, doi: 10.4337/9781781955536.00031

Cooley, L. and Mujanović, J. (2015) 'Changing the rules of the game: Comparing FIFA/UEFA and EU attempts to promote reform of power-sharing institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina', Global Society 29(1), pp. 42-63, doi: 10.1080/13600826.2014.974512

Cooley, L. (2013) 'The European Union's approach to conflict resolution: Insights from the constitutional reform process in Bosnia and Herzegovina', Comparative European Politics 11(2), pp. 172-200, doi: 10.1057/cep.2012.21

Cooley, L. and Pace, M. (2012) 'Consociation in a constant state of contingency? The case of the Palestinian Territory', Third World Quarterly 33(3), pp. 541-58, doi: 10.1080/01436597.2012.657492

Diez. T. and Cooley, L. (2011) 'The European Union and conflict transformation', in Wunderlich, J-U. and Bailey, D.J. (eds.) The European Union and Global Governance: A Handbook, London: Routledge, pp. 187-95

Sriskandarajah, D. and Cooley, L. (2009) 'Stemming the flow? The causes and consequences of the UK's 'closed door' policy towards Romanians and Bulgarians', in Eade, J. and Valkanova, Y. (eds.) Accession and Migration: Changing Policy, Society, and Culture in an Enlarged Europe, Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 31-55

Cooley, L. and Rutter, J. (2007) 'Turned away? Towards better protection for refugees fleeing violent conflict', Public Policy Research 14(3), pp. 176-80, doi: 10.1111/j.1744-540X.2007.00485.x

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