Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Leadership, Parties and Institutions

In this Section:

Our research

Research into leadership, parties and institutions at the School of Politics and International Studies fosters new intellectual dynamics and collaborative processes, and draws on established strengths in British, French, European Union and South East Asian politics.

Our work on leadership includes work on individuals, concepts and perceptions. Academics within this research field have recently published biographies or analytical works on Mitterrand, Schroder, Crossman and former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and produced studies of British Foreign Secretaries and Churchill's constitutional thought.

We also collaborated with survey research organisation MORI to create the first large-scale survey of academics' attitudes towards British Prime Ministers, asking them to 'rank' the Prime Ministers in order of their perceived success, a review that attracted considerable media interest.

We are linked to the Centre for British Government, a research centre with a wide-ranging seminar programme. Some of the centre’s recent speakers have included Clare Short MP on Blair and Iraq, Sir Michael Bichard on Whitehall reform, Lewis Minkin on Labour and the Unions, Peter Catterall on Harold Macmillan, and Geoffrey Foote on Enoch Powell.

The Association of Former Members of Parliament also commissioned the group to research the experiences of British MPs leaving parliament or losing their seats. This resulted in the first large-scale survey of the views and activities of former MPs and a major report published in October 2007 that attracted significant media attention.

Study with us

Our well-regarded and flexible Masters programmes provide a high quality and challenging study experience.

Within this area of research, we provide intellectual support and research-led taught postgraduate programmes in:

International postgraduate recruitment into our school is significant; over fifty per cent of postgraduate students are students from overseas, and their presence brings differing insights, perspectives and experiences of global issues into the ethos of our school.

We have particular expertise in institutional mechanisms, and have engaged on collaborative work on the European Parliament and decision-making procedures in the EU, media and politics in Pacific Asia, and original work on political science, methodology and British politics.

British leadership

Professor Kevin Theakston's recent research involved a study of academic opinions towards British Prime Ministers, a survey of Foreign Secretaries, and research on Churchill's constitutional thought.

Research staff also created the new Political Leadership Specialist Group in order to give focus and impetus to the study of political leadership in the UK academic political science community.

British Parliamentarians

Dr Ed Gouge, Professor Theakston, and Dr Victoria Honeyman have recently researched the views and activities of former Members of Parliament.

British Politics

Dr David Seawright currently researches Parliamentarians' attitudes to European integration. Dr Stuart McAnulla does collaborative work on modernising local government, and original work on political science, methodology and British politics. Dr Timothy Heppell is currently researching the electing and ejecting of party leaders in British politics

Political Parties 

Our research work on political parties includes work on European Social Democrats,Professor David Bell's work on French socialists and the French elections, and Dr Seawright's research into 'One Nation' British Conservatism.


Professor Bell has written a biography of Mitterrand; Dr Christine Harlen, a biography of Gerhard Schröder.

Dr Charlotte Burns researches the European Parliament and decision-making procedures in the EU, and Dr Ricardo Blaug examines the interface of political theory, public policy and organisational design.

South East Asia

Dr Duncan McCargo specialises in Thai politics, and the media and politics in Pacific Asia, and recently completed a controversial biography of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Professor Duncan McCargo currently holds an ESRC grant to study the complex low-intensity conflict in Thailand's Muslim majority southern border provinces, in which more than 3000 people have been killed since January 2004. He has already published an edited volume on the subject, Rethinking Thailand's Southern Violence (NUS Press 2007).

Professor of Southeast Asian politics Duncan McCargo gave ten academic presentations on the Southern Thai conflict during the Easter break, all in the United States. He conducted a briefing for the State Department; gave conference papers at the East-West Center in Washington DC and at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting in Atlanta; and made seminar resentations at Johns Hopkins University (SAIS), University of California (Berkeley), University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and University of Wisconsin (Madison). He also addressed the World Affairs Council in San Francisco.

Professor Theakston is now one of the judges of the Samuel H. Beer Prize for best PhD thesis on British Politics written by a US-based scholar. The Beer prize is awarded annually by the British Politics Group, an associate group of the American Political Sciences Association.

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