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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Peter Sloman is Professor of British Politics at POLIS and a Fellow of Churchill College. Before arriving in Cambridge in 2015, he was a junior research fellow at New College, Oxford.

Peter's research focusses on political ideas, public policy, and electoral politics in modern Britain. His first book, The Liberal Party and the Economy, 1929-1964 (Oxford, 2015) explored how British Liberals engaged with economic thought in the era of John Maynard Keynes and William Beveridge. His second book, Transfer State (Oxford, 2019), examined how changing attitudes to work and social welfare have shaped the development of Universal Credit and the campaign for a universal basic income. Together with Daniel Zamora Vargas and Pedro Ramos Pinto, he has co-edited a recent essay collection on Universal Basic Income in Historical Perspective (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021). Peter has also published articles in a wide range of history and political science journals. He is currently working on the politics of tax and spending in the UK and other Westminster democracies.

Peter was Chair of the Management Committee for Cambridge's History and Politics Tripos between 2016 and 2020, and is now the Director of Postgraduate Education in POLIS.

He was awarded the University's Pilkington Prize for Teaching Excellence in 2021, and is Director of Studies for History and Politics students (and some HSPS students) at Churchill College.


  • Twentieth-century British history
  • Political parties, elections, and public policy
  • Histories of economic and social policy
  • Liberalism
  • Canadian and Australian politics


Key publications: 



Transfer State: The Idea of a Guaranteed Income and the Politics of Redistribution in Modern Britain (Oxford University Press, 2019)

The Liberal Party and the Economy, 1929-1964 (Oxford University Press, 2015)

(edited with Daniel Zamora Vargas and Pedro Ramos Pinto) Universal Basic Income in Historical Perspective (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021)


Journal articles

'Labour, more or less? Policy reasoning in a fiscal register', British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 26 (2024)

'"Take Power - Vote Liberal": Jeremy Thorpe, the 1974 Liberal revival, and the politics of 1970s Britain', English Historical Review, 137 (2022)

'"Better off with Labour?" Fiscal policy, electoral strategy and the road to John Smith's shadow budget, 1979-92', Historical Research, 95 (2022)

'Harold Wilson, "Selsdon Man", and the defence of social democracy in 1970s Britain', Twentieth Century British History, 33 (2022)

'"Where's the money coming from?" Manifesto costings and the politics of fiscal credibility in UK general elections, 1955-2019', British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 23 (2021)

'Redistribution in an age of neoliberalism: Market economics, "poverty knowledge" and the growth of working-age benefits in Britain, c. 1979-2010', Political Studies, 67 (2019)

'Universal Basic Income in British politics, 1918-2018: From a "vagabond's wage" to a global debate', Journal of Social Policy, 47 (2018)

'"The pragmatist's solution to poverty": The Heath government's Tax Credit Scheme and the politics of social policy in the 1970s', Twentieth Century British History, 27 (2016)

'Beveridge’s rival: Juliet Rhys-Williams and the campaign for basic income, 1942-1955', Contemporary British History, 30 (2016)

'Can we conquer unemployment? The Liberal Party, public works, and the 1931 political crisis', Historical Research, 38 (2015)

'Partners in progress? British Liberals and the Labour Party since 1918', Political Studies Review, 12 (2014)

'Rethinking a progressive moment: The Liberal and Labour parties in the 1945 general election', Historical Research, 84 (2011)


Book chapters

'Churchill and social policy', in Allen Packwood (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Winston Churchill (Cambridge University Press, 2023)

'Welfare in a neoliberal age: The politics of redistributive market liberalism', in Aled Davies, Ben Jackson, and Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite (eds), The Neoliberal Age? Britain since the 1970s (UCL Press, 2021)

'Basic income as technocratic liberalism: Framing a policy idea in twentieth-century Britain', in Peter Sloman, Daniel Zamora Vargas, and Pedro Ramos Pinto (eds), Universal Basic Income in Historical Perspective (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021)

(with Aled Davies) 'Fiscal promises: Tax and spending in British general elections since 1964', in David Thackeray and Richard Toye (eds), Electoral Pledges in Britain since 1918: The Politics of Promises (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)


Other publications: 


'Rethinking postwar Liberalism: The road to 2010 and beyond', Political Quarterly, 94 (2023)

(with Connor MacDonald) 'Resource extraction, economic growth, and the climate dilemma in Canada and Australia', Political Quarterly, 91 (2020)

'Squeezed out? The Liberal Democrats and the 2019 general election', Political Quarterly, 91 (2020)

'Time for basic income?', Renewal, 28 (2020)

'Leslie Burgin' and 'Harcourt Johnstone', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (September 2015)

(with Kit Kowol) The Politics of Foresight: British Election Manifestos and Social Change, 1945-2010 (NESTA pamphlet, 2014)

'Crisis, coalition, and cuts: The Liberals and the National Government, 1931', Journal of Liberal History, no. 72 (2011)

Teaching and Supervisions


Peter convenes the POL13 paper on British and European Politics and the HP3 paper on Theory and Practice in History and Politics, both for third-year undergraduate students.

Peter also teaches an MPhil module on Fiscal Politics in Westminster Democracies, and welcomes enquiries from prospective MPhil and PhD students in his areas of interest. 

Professor of British Politics
Director of Postgraduate Education
University Teaching Officer
Fellow, Churchill College

Contact Details

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