The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Michael Barr

Senior Lecturer in International Politics


Roles and Responsibilities

School Director of Excellence in Learning and Teaching (2014-17; 2020-21)
Director of Undergraduate Studies (2017-2020)
Degree Programme Director L200 and L241 (2017-2019)
Co-Convenor, BISA Learning and Teaching Working Group (2015-16)
Associate Editor, Politics (PSA; 2012-2016)
Degree Programme Director for Politics and Economics (2011-2013)
Politics Subject Advisor for Combined Honours (2011-2013)


I am a native of Pennsylvania. I came to England for postgraduate study in 1998 after teaching for several years in Jiangxi, China and Luxor, Egypt.


PhD: University of Durham: Philosophy (Biomedical Ethics and Genetic Epidemiology)
MA: University of Durham: Theological Research
BA: York College of Pennsylvania: International Studies/Government

Previous Positions

2004-2006: BIOS Centre, London School of Economics: Research Fellow
2001-2004: PEALS, University of Newcastle: Research Associate


Mandarin Chinese: intermediate


Research Interests

philosophy as a way of life; art of living; interdisciplinarity; autoethnography; mental health; bioethics; medical humanities 

Postgraduate Supervision

I have successfully supervised 6 PhD students: i) Yuanyuan Liu on similarities between the framing of the Cultural Revolution and the Xi era (2019); ii) Cheng Qian on the rise of China as represented through US television (2018); iii) Ji-Jen Hwang on cybersecurity (2012); iv) Andrew Campion on energy security (2014); v) Ben Coulson on Sino-US relations (2017) and vi) Sarina Theys on the soft power of small states (2017).

Esteem Indicators

Nominated for Newcastle Teaching Award for Innovative Methods, 2018; 2013

Nominated for Vice-Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award and Student Union LATE Teaching Award, 2012

Contributor to Dual Use Bioethics Educational Module Resource, an open access resource to support life scientists and educators in learning about biosecurity, 2010

HASS Faculty Futures participant, 2008/09.

Visiting Fellow, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences/Peking Union Medical College (Xiehe Yiyuan), Spring 2008


PVC Teaching Development Fund, 2016-17

Biosecurity Capacity Building in China, UK Foreign Office, 2012-13

Newcastle University HASS Faculty REF Fund, 2010

Alfred P Sloan Foundation, Sustaining a Global Network for Biosecurity: The Life Sciences and Dual Use Research, collaboration on grant with PI Dr Brian Rappert (Exeter), and Prof Malcolm Dando (Bradford), 2009-2010

UK-China Fellowship of Excellence, Department of Innovation, Universities, and Skills, 2008.

Wellcome Witness Seminar: Medical Ethics Education in Britain 1963-1993. Oral history conference funds, 2006.

Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics Grant. A comparative study of participation and non-participation in the North Cumbria Community Genetics project (with Haimes as PI), 2001-2003.


Current Teaching

HSS8007 An Introduction to the Nature of Explanation and Enquiry (Postmodernism)

Previous Teaching

POL1046 Order and Disorder: The Shaping of the 21st Century (2011-2014; 2020-21)
POL1131 Studying Political Economy (2010-2014)
POL1045 Truth, Lies and Politics: Research Methods (2011-2012)
POL2084 Contemporary Chinese Politics (2009-2013)
POL3104 The Fall & Rise of China (2014-2017; 2020-21)
POL8052 The Rise of China (2010-2014)
POL8055 The 'I' in IR: Autoethnography and Political Storytelling (2014-16)