Department of Political Science


Dr Kalina Zhekova

Kalina wears a pink top and black blazer and smiles into the camera
Lecturer (Teaching) in Political Science (she/her)
Room: B.15, 29/30 Tavistock Square
Email: kalina.zhekova@ucl.ac.uk


I am a Lecturer (Teaching) in Political Science, Departmental Graduate Tutor and Co-Director of the Centre for the Pedagogy of Politics (CPP). I earned my PhD in Russian Foreign Policy and International Relations at the University of Leeds, and I completed an MA (Distinction) in International Politics at the University of Hull.

I work in the field of international studies, war and conflict, with particular focus on Russian approaches to military intervention and state sovereignty within and outside of the post-Soviet space. I have extensive responsibilities for educational provision, student support and academic progression. My work has been recognised as making an outstanding contribution to student learning and educational experience. I hold a UCL Provost Education Award for Academic Support and two UCL Social & Historical Sciences Faculty Education Awards.


My current research focuses on Russian foreign policy and military interventions in the post-Soviet space and the Middle East, and Russian collective (mis-)conceptions of state sovereignty and relations with the West. I am interested in interpretivist and poststructuralist approaches to Russian politics, and I examine the development of external and internal threat constructions, notions of inter-ethnic identities and their mobilisation in the process of policymaking, war and violence. I apply this approach to the study of Russian armed interventions in Syria, Georgia and the war in Ukraine.

Uncovering Politics logo showing people with raised banners and hands in silhouette
Podcast: UCL Uncovering Politics

Hear Dr Zhekova speak about her research on the following podcast episode:
S10 Ep9 | Russian Discourses of Sovereignty


Journal articles
Blog articles


I lead a third-year undergraduate module informed by my research in Russian foreign policy: ‘Russia and the West: Conflicts and Interventions’ (POLS0105). I also teach two postgraduate methods modules: ‘Qualitative Methods: Texts and Images’ (PUBL0085) and ‘Qualitative Methods: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis’ (PUBL0086).

As CPP Co-Director, I lead a range of activities to support education-focused academics in conducting and disseminating pedagogical research. As Graduate Tutor, I have oversight and responsibility for pastoral care provision and academic support of all postgraduate students in the Department of Political Science. I previously served as Co-Director of the MSc programme in International Public Policy.