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Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Studies and Governance, University of the Free State

Theo Neethling, a distinguished scholar, obtained his MA degree in International Politics from Potchefstroom University (currently North-West University) in South Africa in 1989. Building on his academic achievements, he pursued his DLitt et Phil in the same discipline at the University of South Africa in 1992. These foundational degrees served as the bedrock of his intellectual journey in the realm of international politics.
Since April 1, 2009, Neethling has held the position of Professor in the Department of Political Studies and Governance at the University of the Free State. His exceptional leadership skills and academic acumen were recognized during his tenure as Head of Department from April 2009 to June 2020. Neethling's dedication to the advancement of the university led to his election as a member of the Executive Committee of Senate from 2017 to 2020. In 2021, he was further honoured with an election by Senate to serve on the university's Institutional Forum.
Prior to his tenure at the University of the Free State, Neethling made significant contributions in the Faculty of Military Science (Military Academy) of Stellenbosch University. His academic career took flight as a researcher in the Faculty's Centre for Military Studies. In 2002, he ascended to the position of Associate Professor of Political Science in the Department of Political Science (Mil.), and his exemplary scholarship led to his promotion to the rank of Professor in 2005. During this time, Neethling also served as the Subject Chair of the Department of Political Science (Mil.) within the Faculty of Military Science from 2003 to early-2009.
Neethling's academic prowess extends beyond his impressive positions and administrative responsibilities. He has authored or co-authored more than 150 notable publications in both scientific and popular scientific outlets. His extensive body of work encompasses 69 articles published in accredited academic journals and 24 chapters in scholarly book publications. These publications have reached readers across the globe, with appearances in countries such as South Africa, Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Poland, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe. Additionally, Neethling has shared his research findings at numerous national and international conferences, presenting 85 research papers. Through these endeavours, he has fostered collaborations with governmental and academic institutions across Africa's five political regions, as well as in Asia, Australasia, Europe, and North America.
Recognized for his intellectual contributions, Neethling has been invited to lecture in a visiting capacity at esteemed foreign institutions, such as the Osaka University's School for International Public Policy in Japan. His deep commitment to scholarship is further exemplified by his service on the editorial boards of four academic journals. Neethling's research contributions have been acknowledged by the South African National Research Foundation, where he has been rated as an 'established researcher' since 2009. His research interests primarily revolve around Africa's international relations, South Africa's foreign relations, security and politics in the African context, and the future of the African continent.
Theo Neethling's extensive academic journey, coupled with his remarkable research output and commitment to knowledge dissemination, firmly establishes him as a distinguished scholar in the field of international politics. His contributions to academia and his passion for understanding Africa's place in the global landscape continue to shape the scholarly discourse in the field.


  • –present
    Professor and Head: Political Studies and Governance in the Humanities Faculty, University of the Free State

Grants and Contracts

  • 2018
    Professor and Head: Political Studies and Governance in the Humanities Faculty
    Funding Source:
    National Research Foundation