Dr Emma Foster

Emma Foster

Department of Political Science and International Studies
Associate Professor in International Politics
College Director of Postgraduate Research

Contact details

Department of Political Science and International Studies
School of Government
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham,
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Dr Emma A. Foster is a Associate Professor in international politics. Emma’s research interests include gender and sexuality studies, (de)politicisation and anti-politics, international sustainable development policy and development studies more broadly.

Emma co-convenes the Gender and Feminist Theory Group, a vibrant research group hosted in POLSIS and bringing together academics and students across the institution interested in gender and feminist theory. She is      also a part of the Birmingham Plastics Network, an interdisciplinary team of more than 40 academics working together to shape the fate and sustainable future of plastics.  This unique team brings together chemists, environmental scientists, engineers, philosophers, linguists, economists, artists, writers, lawyers, and experts in many other fields, to holistically address the global plastics problem.


  • PhD Political Science (Birmingham)
  • BA Political Science (Queen Mary, University of London)


Awarded a PhD from Birmingham in 2008, Emma has continued to work at the University. From 2008 until 2012 she worked as a teaching fellow in the Departments of Sociology (2008-2010) and Political Science and International Studies (2010-2012). In 2012, Emma was appointed as a Lecturer in International Politics in the Department of Political Science and International Studies. During her career, Emma has championed student enhancement, development and employability, and as of 2021 became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA). Emma is currently the Director of Postgraduate Research for the College of Social Sciences.


Emma co-convenes the first year undergraduate module Understanding Politics and the third year undergraduate module Environment and Climate Politics.  In addition, Emma contributes to the Sexuality and Gender Studies MRes delivered by the College of Arts and Law.

Emma supervises undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations, as well as MRes  and doctoral students.

Postgraduate supervision

Emma supervises PhD students working across a range of areas. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Environmental Politics and Governance
  • Gender/Sexuality and International Development/Relations
  • Gender, Representation and Participation
  • Queer Theory as it relates to IR, Development and Ecology


Emma is currently researching ‘progressive’ social movements, notably the often uneasy relationship between gender (equality), queer, animal ethics and environmental activist groups and organisations.  Emma’s research to date has focussed on feminist and queer ecology, investigated the gender(ed) dynamics of (development) policy and explored the links between depoliticisation and Foucault’s conception of governmentality in relation to international and British politics.  Emma has been, and continues to be, involved in a variety of projects which seek to contribute to learning and teaching (best) practice. She has published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, including Globalizations, Feminist Theory, British Politics, Gender, Place and Culture and the BJPIR, and contributed to several edited collections. 



'Sustainable Development Policy in Britain: Shaping Conduct through Global Governmentality' in British Politics, Volume 3, Number 4 (2008).

'Problematising the Centrality of Gender in Environmental Governmentality' in Globalizations, Volume 8, Number 2 (2011).

(with C Byrne and P Kerr) 'Theorising Cameronism', Political Studies Review 9(2) (2011).

(with P Kerr, A Hopkins, C Byrne & L Ahall) 'The Personal is not Political: At Least in the UK's Top Politics and IR Departments', in British Journal of Politics and International Relations (2012).

(with F Nunan and A Campbell) 'Environmental mainstreaming: the organisational challenges of policy integration', in Public Administration and Development, Volume 32, Issue 3 (2012).

'Deconstructing International Sustainable Development and Population Policy Directives: The (Re)production of Sexual Norms through Environmental Discourses' in Gender, Place and Culture (2013).

(with P Kerr and C Byrne) 'Rolling Back to Roll Forward: Depoliticisation and the Extension of Government' in Policy and Politics, (2014).

(with P Kerr and C Byrne) "What Kind of 'Big Government' is the Big Society’ in BJPIR, (2014).

(with D Lee and H Snaith) 'Implementing the Employability Agenda: A Critical Review of Curriculum Developments in Political Science and International Relations in English Universities' in Politics, (2014).

(with P Kerr, A Oaten and N Begum) ‘Getting Back in the DeLorean: Modernisation vs Anti-modernisation in Contemporary British Politics’ in Policy Studies, (2018).

‘Ecofeminism Revisited: Critical insights on contemporary environmental governance’ in Feminist Theory, (2021).

(with T Da Costa Vieira) ‘The Elimination of Political Demands: Ordoliberalism, the Big Society and the Depoliticisation of Cooperatives’ in Competition and Change, (2021).

Book Chapters

'Gender and International Relations' for J. Haynes and L. Pettiford World Politics (Pearson, 2011)

(with C Byrne and P Kerr) 'Understanding Conservative Modernisation', in T Heppell & D Seawright (ed) Cameron and the Conservatives: The Transition to Coalition Government (Palgrave, 2012)

'Green Security' in L Shepherd and C Moore Critical Approaches to Security (eds.) (Routledge, 2012)

'Female Circumcision vs. Designer Vaginas: Surgical Genital Practices and the Discursive Reproduction of State Boundaries' in J. Dickenson, A. Cameron and N. Smith (eds.) Body/State (Ashgate, 2013)

'Environmental Politics and Ecology' in L Shepherd (ed) Gender Matters in Global Politics (Routledge,      2014) 

‘Gender and Sustainable Development’ in J Steans and D Tepe-Belfrage (eds.) Handbook on Gender in World Politics (Edward Elgar, 2016).

‘Eco-sexual Normativity and Queering Ecologies’ in G Brown and K Browne (eds.) The Routledge Research Companion to Geographies of Sex and Sexualities (Routledge, 2016).

‘Gender, environmental governmentality, and the discourses of
sustainable development’ 
in S MacGregor (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment (Routledge, 2017).

‘Foucault and Ecology’ in L Downing (ed.) After Foucault (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

‘Environmentalism and LGBTQIA+ Politics and Activism’ in K Bell (ed.) Diversity and Inclusion in Environmentalism (Routledge, 2021).

View all publications in research portal