Staff profile

Dr Francesco Belcastro

Senior Lecturer & Subject Leader in International Relations


Social Sciences


College of Business, Law and Social Sciences

Research centre

Better Society, Social, Cultural and Legal Research Centre




One Friar Gate Square, Derby Campus



I am a Senior Lecturer and the programme leader of International Relations at the College of Business, Law, and Social Sciences here at the University of Derby. I am currently the admissions tutor for International Relations and Diplomacy.

I am also a Fellow of the Centre for Syrian Studies, University of St Andrews.

Teaching responsibilities

  • I am currently teaching several modules in the fields of International Security and Diplomacy
  • In the past I taught a range of modules in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies

Professional interests

I am interested in politics and international relations of the Middle East - broadly defined - conflict and security. My work focuses in particular on foreign and domestic policy of regional actors, regional security, the Levant and the Arab-Israeli conflict. I regularly contribute to several online publications in the fields of International Relations and Geopolitics. 

I have been a Guest Speaker at several institutions, including the Royal Danish Defence College, Copenhagen where I lectured on “The regional consequences of the Syrian crisis”.

Research interests

My research interests lie, broadly speaking, in the fields of International Relations and Middle East Studies. My PhD dissertation developed a theoretical framework of alliances formation and analysed the foreign policy of Syria during the 1970-1989 years. I am particularly interested in the application of traditional international relations theories and concepts to the regional level. My current research focuses on regional involvement in civil wars both at a theoretical level and in reference to the Syrian and other MENA cases. I am also interested in the politics of Israel/Palestine, and currently working on a project on sport and power in the two countries.

Membership of professional bodies

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the Scientific Committee, Mediterranean International Centre for Human Rights, University of Reggio Calabria, Italy
  • Member, BISA (British International Studies Association)
  • Member, BRISMES (British Society of Middle Eastern Studies)


Prior to joining the University of Derby, I was a Teaching Fellow at the University of St Andrews, where I also obtained my PhD. 

I hold an MA in Geopolitics, Territory and Security from King's College London and a BA in International Relations from the University of Bologna.

Recent conferences

  • June 2019, BRISMES Conference, Leeds
  • June 2019, BISA Conference, London
  • March 2019, SEPAD workshop, University of Lancaster
  • October 2018, Invited Guest Speaker, Centre for Conflict, Security and Terrorism, University of Nottingham
  • June 2018, BRISMES Conference, London
  • April 2018, ISA Conference, San Francisco

In the media

I am available for comments in the press on a range of topics including the current civil war in Syria, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, politics of the Middle East.

Recent publications

  • Belcastro, F "Sport, politics and the struggle over ‘normalization’ in post-Oslo Israel and Palestine" Mediterranean Politics (2020) 
  • Belcastro, F  "Syrian Foreign Policy. The Alliances of a Regional Power" (Monograph) Abingdon, Routledge, 2019
  • Belcastro, F "An Odd Foreign Policy Couple? Syria and the KSA 1970-1989". Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, (2019)
  • Belcastro, F. "Conflict in the Middle East" chapter in R. Hinnebusch (ed.) Ashgate Research Companion for Middle East, 2019 (forthcoming)
  • Belcastro, F "From Domestic to Regional. The Civil War Conundrum and the Cases of Algeria and Syria". Civil Wars, Vol. 19 (2) 2017, pp. 198-219