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Dr Lauren Wilcox wins prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize

last modified Dec 11, 2018 09:58 AM

6d508d78 6ca1 49b9 a8a9 2ba97c523999The Department of Politics and International Studies is delighted to congratulate Dr Lauren Wilcox, on winning a prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize. This prize is an early career award for UK-based academics that honours researchers whose future career is seen as ‘exceptionally promising’ and whose work has already attracted international recognition. Prize winners receive an award of £100,000 in research funding over two or three years. Dr Wilcox’s prize is in the field of Politics and International Relations; eligible fields rotate each year with 30 total prizes awarded.

Dr Wilcox’s research has pushed forward the boundaries of theorizing war, political violence and security by centering questions of bodies and embodiment. Her first book, Bodies of Violence, was the first major work to make questions of bodies and embodiment central to IR, rectifying the curious oversight in a field that understands itself to be centrally concerned with injuring and harming certain bodies in war and protecting other bodies in practices of security. In this work, Dr Wilcox made the case for theorizing bodies and more precisely, the embodiment of the subject, at the nexus of the material and discursive, not bound by the skin, and formed in and through relations with other bodies. Building on this, Dr Wilcox argues that theorizing bodies and embodiment are crucial to understanding international political violence, and argues that if IR continues to erase bodies and embodiment, it not only erases the social agency of bodies, but also fails to fully theorize political violence.

Her current project is tentatively entitled War Beyond the Human. This work argues that the category of ‘the human’ haunts our very capacity to understand, comprehend, and critique violence in global politics. Relatedly, racial divisions at the heart of Western modernity described by critical race and postcolonial theorists suggest ‘the human’ is defined by whiteness. In developing a feminist/queer reading of this ‘posthuman’ moment of political violence, Dr Wilcox asks how regimes of gender/sexuality make certain forms of death and injury and make other bodies “matter” when the human body is fractured into organs, fluids, codes, information, and prostheses such than gender and sexuality cannot be ascribed to individual bodies. Dr Wilcox is developing this work through a discussion of four ‘posthuman’ figurations: the drone, the swarm, the zombie, and the artificially intelligent robot.

Funds from the Philip Leverhulme Prize will be used toward Dr Wilcox’s next project, Gender, Precarity, and the Politics of Posthumanism. The aim of this project is to provide a feminist/queer contribution to exploring insights into the place of humans in the new posthuman era in which artificially intelligent machines play a large role in shaping social and political futures, while the subject of ‘the human’ seems increasingly precarious, and ‘precarity’ itself is a mode of governance. The aim of this project is not only to consider the challenges of AI and related technological developments, but also to envision a progressive politics that offers new interpretations of the consequences and opportunities of 'the posthuman' for projects of survival, justice, and resistance in an age of human precarity. The project will emphasize feminist and critical race theories as fruitful lenses through which to investigate these questions.

 A full list of winners can be found on the Leverhulme website

POLIS Postgraduate Careers Day - 25 January 2019

last modified Dec 10, 2018 09:14 AM

On Friday 25 January, the department will be hosting its third Postgraduate Careers Day. All Masters students of the Department of Politics and International Studies are invited and encouraged to attend.

The Careers Day covers sectors you expressed an interest in. From 9am to 4pm you will have the chance to learn more about how to enter the fields of Media and Journalism, Law, the Civil Service, Research and Consultancy, and the Development and Human Rights sector. If you are thinking about further study, you can learn more about that, too. Over the course of the day, alumni will be talking to you about how their studies were useful to their careers and how they got to where they are.


Time All talks are in SG1, Alison Richard Building
12-1pm LUNCH
1-2pm LAW

Confirmed speakers:

Research & Consultancy Moderator: Prof Jason Sharman; Speakers: Chris Thoung (MPP, Public Policy Researcher at Cambridge Econometrics), Katherine Stewart (MPhil IRPOL, Research Assistant at RAND Europe)
Media & Journalism Moderator: Prof John Naughton; Speakers: Catherine Carr (Producer, Talking Politics), Grace Livingstone (freelance journalist/affiliated lecturer in Latin American studies)
Human Rights & Development Moderator: Dr Justin Pearce; Speakers: Sebastian Manhart (MPhil Dev Studies, Chief Operating Officer of Simprints), Paula Beegan (CLAS MPhil, 9 years as Director of Special Events at Human Rights Watch)
Law Moderator: Dr Giovanni Mantilla; Speakers: Frances Meegan (Careers Service), Claire Curtis (MML at Cambridge, Solicitor-Advocate, Clyde & Co)
Civil Service & Diplomacy Moderator: Dr Dennis Grube; Speakers: Thomas Burge (MPhil IR, Head of Modern Deterrence at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), David Talbot (PhD IR, Policy advisor in Obama Administration, US Department of Commerce), Frances Meegan (Careers Service)
Further Study Moderator: Dr Julie Smith; Speakers: Dr Patrick Clibbens (Teaching Associate and MPhil CSAS), Mary Ononokpono (MPhil in African Politics, now PhD in History)

There are many careers events in Cambridge but this one is specifically set up for postgraduate students at POLIS and covers the sectors you are interested in.

And if you need any more persuading, lunch will be provided. See you on Friday 25 January!

POLIS PhD Studentships for 2019/20 Entry

last modified Nov 12, 2018 04:51 PM

The Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) is pleased to announce the availability of 3 new PhD studentships, each funding a full-time 3-year doctoral degree in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge. Each studentship will cover fees and maintenance at the standard Research Council rate.

The studentships will be merit-based, with preference to applicants from the UK/EU. All students who are offered a place on the PhD course will be automatically considered and no additional application is necessary.

The course start date is 1 October 2019. The deadline for applications is 3 January 2019. More information on the course can be found on the Graduate Admissions website.

If you would like to enquire about the POLIS PhD Studentship, please contact the PhD Administrator, Mrs Cerys Minogue

Inaugural Joffe Award Winner Announced

last modified Oct 08, 2018 01:29 PM

The Department of POLIS is delighted to announce that the Joffé Award for 2017-2018 has been presented to Ibrahim Khan, for his dissertation entitled 'Rethinking Islam and Human Rights'.

The Joffé Award is presented each year to the student writing the best MPhil dissertation on the international relations and/or politics of the Middle East and North Africa. It is named for Professor George Joffé who, for many years, was the backbone of teaching on North Africa and the Middle East in the Centre for International Studies, and later in POLIS. George retired at the end of the 2016/17 academical year and the Department has created this prize as a tribute to his intellectual legacy.

Ibrahim had the following to say on his work and the award:

"My dissertation explores the extensive literature that has emerged since the 1970s on the relationship between Islam and human rights. The study examines the specific historical conditions that made a reconciliation between the two constructs necessary and urgent for disparate thinkers, and it investigates the contemporary politics of this discourse.... I am honored to have received the inaugural Joffé Award. The prize has encouraged me to think further about the topics raised in the dissertation and has affirmed for me the importance of continued critical scholarship on the politics of the Middle East and North Africa. I am grateful for the award and for the educational opportunities at POLIS that made my research possible, and I hope that the dissertation serves as a small step toward honoring the enormous scholarly legacy of Professor George Joffé."

Many congratulations to Ibrahim, and to all of his MPhil cohort on their hard work this year.

The Bennett Studentship for Public Policy

last modified Aug 29, 2018 12:06 PM
Scholarship available for 2019/20 entry

The Bennett Institute for Public Policy is delighted to announce its PhD scholarship towards a full-time postgraduate degree in the area of public policy at the University of Cambridge.

We are looking to fund PhD students interested in a wide variety of topics, including politics, international relations, law, economics, history and geography. Applicants must demonstrate a strong commitment to studying public policy.

The three-year scholarship covers course fees, with study based in students’ home departments within the University of Cambridge.

PhD candidates funded by the Bennett Institute will also benefit from engagement with the Institute, its research and networks and opportunities to showcase their work and to further their professional development in the field of Public Policy.

About the Bennett Institute

The Bennett Institute for Public Policy launched on 16 April 2018 with a mission to conduct high-level research, teaching and policy engagement and to generate successful and sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing problems of our time. The Institute has at its heart a commitment to a deeper analysis of the economic, social and political systems in which policy is developed; the creation of powerful new networks of policy-makers, influencers and researchers; and the development of a new generation of reflexive and critical policy leaders.

We bring together the world-class research of Cambridge in technology, engineering and the natural sciences with a deep understanding of the social and political forces that are remaking democracy and generating fundamental challenges for governments across the world. Our initial research programmes lie in the following areas: 

  • Place and public policy
  • Well-being, progress and public policy
  • Science and the future of democracy

Our mission grows out of a readiness to move away from the technocratic assumption that there are technical fixes or ready-made solutions to intractable challenges arising from resource scarcity. The Institute seeks to drive forward research into the growing demand for a more equitable distribution of the world’s natural and social assets and examine the impact that technological change is having on the nature of work, community and consumption around the world.

Thanks to the generosity of our benefactor, Mr Peter Bennett, the Institute is awarding a limited number of studentships for PhDs in the area of Public Policy.

Scholarships will awarded to outstanding applicants to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in the area of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge. The selection criteria are:

  • outstanding intellectual ability
  • leadership potential
  • a commitment to improving the lives of others
  • a good match with the Bennett Institute ethos, ambition and research aims to explore the pressing problems of the 21st century

Expressions of interest and further information

If you would like to enquire about the Bennett Studentship for Public Policy, please contact the Bennett Institute for more information and details of how to apply.

We welcome expressions of interest throughout Michaelmas term 2018 for PhD study starting 2019/2020.

Contact: | 01223 767233

Supervisor Award 2017-18

last modified Aug 22, 2018 10:29 AM

The Department has established a Supervisor Award for staff and students who have supervised on our undergraduate papers as part of the HSPS Tripos last year.

Students across the Tripos were invited to nominate their supervisors, and we were delighted to receive nearly 30 nominations. Students were asked to evaluate their supervisors against certain criteria - organisational skill, communication skill, accessibility etc - but were also invited to leave comments; you can read a selection of these below. 

Having considered all the nominations and comments, the Department is delighted to announce that the winner of the Supervisor Award is Dr Thomas Hopkins, Teaching Associate. He will receive the prize of £100. 

Dr Hopkins: 'I'm very honoured to receive this award.  It is a pleasure and a privilege to teach in POLIS.  My thanks to all my colleagues in the department for their support, and especial thanks to my students past and present.'

Comments in support of Dr Thomas Hopkins - 

"It is very difficult indeed to overstress what a remarkable supervisor Dr. Hopkins is. This year I have had the luck to have him as a supervisor for POL8 and without his support I doubt I would have been able to sit an exam on it. His astonishing broad and in-depth knowledge enable him to answer any sort of question without hesitation and with absolute clarity. Not to mention the fact that he is an incredibly understanding, flexible and committed supervisor. Again, Dr Hopkins is a truly exceptional supervisor and my comments cannot do justice to his qualities. My best supervisor by far in my two years in Cambridge."

"One of the best supervisors I've had in Cambridge. Incredibly knowledgable and enthusiastic"

"Will answer all questions comprehensively"

"I had the good fortune to be supervised by Tom Hopkins for POL8, and he was the best supervisor I've had at Cambridge. His knowledge was impeccable, and the supervision hour was always filled with learning. His lectures were excellent, and the time and care he took over reading and commenting on essays ensured that I – and others – fully understood the material and ideas. My good grade was largely due to him."

Honourary mentions - 

Dr Mette Eilstrup - Sangiovanni - "Mette is a fantastic supervisor and just an amazing person in general!"

Dr Peter Sloman - "Peter is the best supervisor I've had across my whole undergraduate degree. He's all of these qualities, and on top of that has really inspired my interest in British politics"

POLIS Undergraduate Prize Winners Speak

last modified Aug 17, 2018 11:13 AM

The Department of POLIS is delighted to announce that our undergraduates have completed their end of year assessments and prizes have been awarded.

 The John Dunn Prize is awarded each year to the Part IIB student who submits the best dissertation. This year Annabel Mahgerefteh and her dissertation "Women and the Iranian Revolution"  and Alexandre Paturel and his dissertation "Science, sexuality and the state: Alfred Kinsey and American religious conservative politics" was selected as the most worthy winners. Here are their comments about their work:

Annabel: "Writing a dissertation brought with it many opportunities to deepen my relationship with the course and explore the subjects I love. Within the multiple HSPS subjects since first year, I found myself asking questions about the collaboration of seemingly contradictory forces in the Iranian Revolution and the complex development of the new female subject. Hence, the experience enabled me to delve into these issues, analysing it through a Foucauldian discursive framework, enriched by the support and expertise of my supervisor. I really enjoyed the experience of studying a single topic over a longer period, and would thoroughly recommend it."

Alexandre: "Working through my dissertation’s argument was very enriching. Focusing on the sexual illiberalism of the American political right, I was lucky to be able to combine my own political concerns with such an important part of my degree. Moreover, with the privilege of being supervised at such a high level, I found that the process of (re)writing the dissertation also taught me how to make and frame political arguments more generally."

The Schmidt Prize is awarded each year to the Part IIA student who submits the best long essay and this year the Examiners judged the essay ‘Are economic sanctions an effective way to make states comply with international rules?’ written by Axel Larsson to be the best POL5 essay in the crop.

Axel Larsson writes: "My essay builds the argument that economic sanctions are more effective than what is often argued by bringing attention to sanctions' indirect and third-party effects. It also makes the case that there is a selection bias in the data used in several studies leading to an underestimation of the effectiveness of economic sanctions. At first, I found POL5 rather challenging as the way to tackle the essay questions is rather different from the shorter essays one writes on a weekly basis in other papers. Ultimately, however, the experience of working more independently, with a broad question for a longer time frame was truly rewarding. I especially recommend POL5 for anyone wanting to write a dissertation as -at least I- learned many valuable things of writing a longer essay along the way."


Congratulations to Annabel, Alex and Axel, and to all undergraduate students on their hard work this year.

Winner of the Lisa Smirl Prize 2017-18 Announced

last modified Aug 06, 2018 11:01 AM
José Ciro Martinez wins the prize for his thesis: ‘The Politics of Bread: State Power, Food Subsidies and Neoliberalization in Hashemite Jordan’.

 POLIS would like to offer their sincerest congratulations to former PhD student José Ciro Martinez who has won the 2017-18 Lisa Smirl Prize.


His thesis entitled, ‘The Politics of Bread: State Power, Food Subsidies and Neoliberalization in Hashemite Jordan’, was described by the judges as 'a highly innovative study of welfare politics in Jordan, presenting the Jordanian state as engaged in a process of demonstrating its authority through the distribution of flour, the regulation of bread prices and the indirect management of the bakery'. 


The Prize is named in memory of Lisa Smirl, who gained her PhD in the Department in 2010 but who sadly died of cancer in February 2013.

Prof David Runciman elected to British Academy Fellowship

last modified Jul 20, 2018 10:47 AM

Prof David Runciman of POLIS is one of six Cambridge academics that have been elected Fellows of the prestigious British Academy for the humanities and social sciences. This body is a community of over 1400 of the leading minds that make up the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences. Current Fellows include the classicist Dame Mary Beard, the historian Sir Simon Schama and philosopher Baroness Onora O’Neill, while previous Fellows include Sir Winston Churchill, C.S Lewis, Seamus Heaney and Beatrice Webb.

Prof Runciman has been recognised for his work on the history of political thought (from Hobbes through to late nineteenth and twentieth century political thought); theories of the state and political representation; and contemporary politics and political theory.

More information on the Cambridge electees can be found here.



Fieldwork Photography Competition Winners Announced

last modified Jul 17, 2018 12:45 PM

This year POLIS ran a Photography Competition in collaboration with our blog, In The Long Run (ITLR), to showcase the best images our PhD students have taken whilst out on their fieldwork.

We received many fantastic submissions but we were able to narrow down our winners. 

In Third Place:

Halimatou Hima Moussa Dioula, PhD Candidate for Development Studies.

Kadata, Maradi, Niger. "We hold pens. What's your superpower? Learning, ilimi Haske."

In Second Place:

Jose Ciro Martinez, PhD in Politics and International Studies.

Amman, Jordan. "Bread is Life"

First Place:

Farhana Rahman, PhD Candidate for Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies.

Balukhali Rohingya Refugee Camp, Bangladesh. "Beyond Borders"

These images will be featured on our website in the upcoming academic year, so keep your eye out for them!

Thank you again to everyone who entered this year. The Fieldwork Photography Competition will be running again next year, so keep that in mind whilst you are out on fieldwork this year students!

PhD poster competition winner announced

last modified Jul 18, 2018 11:46 AM
The department of POLIS is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2018 PhD poster competition is Léonie de Jonge.

L. de Jonge (2)

Léonie de Jonge is a PhD researcher in Politics & International Studies. 

Her doctoral thesis considers the success and failure of right-wing populist parties in Western Europe. Specifically, she is interested in the question why these parties are more successful the Netherlands and Flanders (i.e. the northern, Dutch-speaking part of Belgium) than in Luxembourg and Wallonia (i.e. the southern, French-speaking part of Belgium). Her research highlights the importance of mainstream parties and the media. Some of the findings related to the latter topic are presented in this poster.

Léonie would like to thank Lys Differding, who drew the illustrations for this poster.


Winning poster


Dr Aaron Rapport wins Pilkington Prize

last modified Jul 25, 2018 01:24 PM

Each year the Pilkington Prize is awarded to teachers from across the University who have made a substantial contribution to the teaching programme of their Department, Faculty or the University as a whole. This year, Dr Aaron Rapport joined 11 others to receive this distinction.

A short video where Dr Rapport talks about his passion for teaching can be found here.

More information on this year's winners can be found here.

Professor Helen Thompson wins the Crick Prize

last modified Jul 16, 2018 12:55 PM

Helen Thompson has been awarded the Crick Prize for the best essay to appear in Political Quarterly in 2017.  She was awarded the prize at the Orwell Prize ceremony in London on 21 June 2018.  Her prize-winning essay, 'It's Still the 2008 Crash', can read in full here:


Postgraduate Open Day – 2nd November 2018

last modified May 14, 2018 04:23 PM

The Open Day for students interested in coming to Cambridge to study on a postgraduate course will be on Friday 2 November 2018.

The University of Cambridge Postgraduate Open day is open to current final year students or graduates who are seeking to enter into postgraduate study at Masters or PhD level.  

During the day there will be detailed information about the graduate application process. Current graduate students and Graduate Admissions staff will be on hand to answer questions about postgraduate study and student life in the vibrant city of Cambridge. Staff will also be available to give you advice on the application process, funding opportunities and careers after your course.

You will have the chance to speak to department staff at the Exhibition Hub and you may be able to visit the department to learn more about individual courses and discover which course will be best for you by talking to the staff and students here.

You will also have the opportunity to visit some of the Colleges, find out about their unique character and see how College life complements academic life in Cambridge.

There is no charge for attending the open day although you will need to arrange your own travel and accommodation if required.

Visit the Graduate Study website now to register your interest and we will email you once bookings are open in August. 

POLIS announces new prize for MPhil students

last modified Mar 23, 2018 03:37 PM

POLIS is delighted to announce that it is launching a new prize for students taking the MPhil in International Relations and Politics. Called the Joffé Award, the prize is named for Professor George Joffé who, for many years, was the backbone of teaching on North Africa and the Middle East in the Centre for International Studies, and later in POLIS. George retired at the end of the 2016/17 academical year and the Department has created this prize as a tribute to his intellectual legacy.

£200 will be presented to the student writing the best MPhil dissertation on the international relations and/or politics of the Middle East and North Africa. One of the current students taking the MPhil in International Relations and Politics will be the first to receive the Award.

Diane Coyle appointed to ESRC Council

last modified Mar 08, 2018 03:22 PM
Professor Diane Coyle of the Cambridge Institute for Public Policy has been appointed to the ESRC’s new Council.

The Council comes into effect with the launch of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) on 1 April 2018. Welcoming the announcement, Professor Jennifer Rubin, ESRC Chief Executive and Executive Chair Designate, said: "It is with great delight that we welcome members to the new ESRC Council. They will be vital to ensuring that the social sciences make their contribution within the UK research and innovation landscape, and that the ESRC contributes to shaping opportunities for social science as they emerge."

The members of the Council will be as follows:

  • Professor Diane Coyle
    Bennett Professor of Public Policy, University of Cambridge  
    Term: 1 April 2018 - 31 March 2021
  • Mr Mike Emmerich
    Founding Director, Metro Dynamics
    Term: 1 April 2018 - 31 March 2020
  • Professor Jane Falkingham
    Professor of Demography and International Social Policy, University of Southampton
    Term: 1 April 2018 - 31 March 2021
  • Professor Matthew Flinders
    Professor of Politics, University of Sheffield
    Term: 1 April 2018 - 31 March 2020
  • Professor Nigel Gilbert
    Professor of Sociology, University of Surrey
    Term: 1 April 2018 - 31 March 2020
  • Professor Rachel Griffith
    Professor of Economics, University of Manchester and Research Director, Institute for Fiscal Studies
    Term: 1 April 2018 - 31 March 2021
  • Professor Melinda Mills
    Head of Department of Sociology, University of Oxford 
    Term: 1 April 2018 - 31 March 2021
  • Professor James Smith
    Professor of African & Development Studies, University of Edinburgh
    Term: 1 April 2018 - 31 March 2020
  • Professor Anna Vignoles
    Professor of Education and Director of Research, University of Cambridge
    Term: 1 April 2018 - 31 March 2022
  • Sir Christopher Wormald
    Permanent Secretary, Department of Health

As part of the nine Councils of UKRI, the ESRC Council will work with Professor Rubin to deliver the ESRC’s aims and objectives and to support UKRI's overall mission to maintain the UK’s world-leading position in research and innovation. The ESRC Council members will also provide Professor Rubin, and UKRI more widely, with input, intelligence and feedback from their communities and stakeholder groups. The Council will act as critical friends to the UKRI Councils.

The members announced today – totalling 32 people across the Councils of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council and the ESRC – reflect the diversity of communities that they represent coming from varied backgrounds and experiences including academia, business, policy, third sector and voluntary sector.

Professor Sir Mark Walport UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive Designate, commented: "I am delighted to welcome these new Council members. Their stimulus, support and challenge will provide a critical role in the development of strategy and the governance of UK Research and Innovation. The diversity of their personal backgrounds, experience and expertise will ensure that we make the very best choices in how to invest wisely in research and innovation and develop capability and capacity for the future."

Tara Westover to launch memoir in Cambridge, 28th February

last modified Jan 29, 2018 11:20 AM

Author and Gates Cambridge Scholar Tara Westover will be launching her memoir in Cambridge on 28th February.

Tara Westover

The book, “Educated”, is published by Hutchinson and was bought for a six-figure sum within 24 hours of the submission being sent out. It has sold rights in 20 territories and is being compared to classics of the genre such as Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterston.

Gates Cambridge Provost Barry Everitt will introduce the event. Tara will be interviewed by her PhD supervisor David Runciman and will also take questions from the audience. The event will be followed by a drinks reception and book signings.

For more information, click here.

To attend the event, click here.

British Politics seminar series 2018

last modified Jan 12, 2018 03:38 PM

The second annual POLIS-Robinson College seminar series in British Politics will take place on Fridays at 5pm in Robinson College (unless otherwise indicated).

This term’s speakers will include the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Lamont of Lerwick; Theresa May’s former chief of staff, Nick Timothy; the drafter of Article 50, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard; Jeremy Corbyn’s former spokesperson, Matt Zarb-Cousin; and two senior Labour MPs, Dame Margaret Hodge and Nia Griffith.

Seminars will be held under the Chatham House rule. All University members are welcome (and non-members by application to the seminar convenors Dr Julie Smith ( and Dr Peter Sloman (

Dates of seminars

POLIS MPhil Careers Day - 15 January 2018

last modified Jan 12, 2018 02:10 PM

On Monday 15 January, the department will be hosting its second MPhil Careers Day. All MPhils of the Department of Politics and International Studies are invited and encouraged to attend.

The Careers Day covers sectors you expressed an interest in. From 11am to 4pm you will have the chance to learn more about how to enter the fields of Media and Journalism, Law, the Civil Service, Research and Consultancy, and the Development and Human Rights sector. If you are thinking about further study, you can learn more about that, too. Over the course of the day, alumni will be talking to you about how their studies were useful to their careers and how they got to where they are. All panels will be moderated so many thanks to Professor John Naughton, Dr Sophie Roborgh, Dr Solava Ibrahim, Dr Joanna Page, Dr Pieter van Houten and Dr Iza Hussin for participating.


Confirmed speakers:

  • Dame Barbara Stocking, President of Murray Edwards, former chief executive of Oxfam GB
  • Sebastian Manhart, Chief Operating Officer of Simprints
  • Thomas Burge, Deputy Head of the Russia Team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Sophie Wilson, Research Manager in the Social Research Institute at Ipsos MORI
  • Chris Thoung, Public Policy Researcher at Cambridge Econometrics
  • Poppy Latham,  Associate at Allen and Overy LLP
  • Sara Aslam, Trainee Solicitor at Simmons & Simmons
  • Rose Stokes, Programme Editor for The Economist Events
  • Catherine Carr, Journalist and Producer of Talking Politics
  • Alice Musabende, Gates Scholar and PhD Candidate in Politics and International Studies
  • Dr Patrick Clibbens, Teaching Associate in South Asian Studies
  • Matthew Mahmoudi, PhD Candidate in Development Studies


 Where? When? What?

Time SG1 SG2


13-14pm LUNCH
15-16pm LAW


There are many careers events in Cambridge but this one is specifically set up for MPhil students at POLIS and covers the sectors you are interested in.

And if you need any more persuading, lunch will be provided. See you on Monday 15 January!


Professor Lawrence Hamilton awarded NRF A-rating

last modified Nov 29, 2017 11:17 AM

Lawrence Hamilton has earned an A-rating from the South African National Research Foundation (NRF). This follows a year-long international peer review process. An A-rated researcher is defined as someone who is recognised by their peers as a leading international scholar in their field for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs.

His work was described by reviewers as cutting edge and having major international impact. It is shaping the discourse on needs, power and freedom. It offers a genuinely novel theory of political power and democratic practice. And it has created fresh dialogue across disciplines, particularly political theory, philosophy and development economics. His most recent book, Freedom is Power: Liberty Through Political Representation (CUP 2014), was described as a major contribution to the literature and a powerful critique of prevailing approaches. There was also appreciation for the rigorous application of his sophisticated theoretical work to South African case studies and questions in particular.

The NRF in South Africa rates individual researchers (not departments) and, especially in the humanities and social sciences, A-ratings are unusual. Professor Hamilton is the first political scientist in the history of the NRF rating system to receive an A-rating.


Duncan Bell wins 2017 Kenneth M. Roemer Award

last modified Nov 28, 2017 03:00 PM

Duncan Bell has won the 2017 Kenneth M. Roemer Award for Innovative Course Design from the Society for Utopian Studies, for his 3rd year undergraduate course "The Politics of the Future, 1880-2080"

Mixing political theory, literature, and intellectual history, the course explores how intellectuals have thought about the future from the late nineteenth century and into the present. It uses fictional texts - including those by William Morris, H. G. Wells, W. E. B. Du Bois, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler and William Gibson - to explore the anxieties animating social and political thought, visions of future utopias and dystopias, and theoretical accounts of what it means to think the future.

Postgraduate Open Day 2017

last modified Nov 06, 2017 12:26 PM

On Friday 3rd November, the whole department was represented in the University Centre for the Postgraduate Open Day. We were lucky to meet a huge number of prospective applicants and we hope to welcome quite a few of you soon as students. Course administrators and academics were on hand to answer all your burning questions. Special thanks to our student volunteers for talking about their courses so passionately both in the University Centre and the Alison Richard Building!



 Our slightly squeezed-in stall at the University Centre which was well-attended once the Postgraduate Open Day took off.

Winner of the Lisa Smirl Prize 2016-17 Announced

last modified Nov 02, 2017 10:27 AM
Eliza Garnsey wins the prize for her thesis: 'The Art of Justice and the Justice of Art in 'post-apartheid' South Africa'
Winner of the Lisa Smirl Prize 2016-17 Announced

Winner: Eliza Garnsey

POLIS would like to offer their sincerest congratulations to former PhD student Eliza Garnsey who has won the 2016-17 Lisa Smirl Prize.


Her thesis entitled, 'The Art of Justice and the Justice of Art in 'post-apartheid' South Africa', was described by the judges as 'A bold interdisciplinary piece of research' that is 'a significant contribution to the welcome aesthetic turn of recent years in international relations scholarship'. 


The Prize is named in memory of Lisa Smirl, who gained her PhD in the Department in 2010 but who sadly died of cancer in February 2013.


Professor Diane Coyle appointed inaugural Bennett Professor of Public Policy

last modified Nov 01, 2017 12:12 PM


We are delighted to announce that Professor Diane Coyle, from the University of Manchester, is the inaugural Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge.

She will take up her post in March 2018 in the Department of Politics and International Studies. Professor Coyle brings a wealth of experience as one the UK’s most respected policy practitioners and thinkers, and is one of the leading academic figures exploring the application and refashioning of economics in relation to some of the major public policy challenges of our times.

She has just been announced as the joint winner of the prestigious Indigo prize for Economics for 2017.

Professor Coyle is the latest appointment to the growing group of public policy experts housed at the University of Cambridge. She will take a leading role, along with Professor Michael Kenny, and a growing team of researchers and lecturers, in the brand-new Cambridge Institute for Public Policy which brings world-leading, multi-disciplinary research to bear on some of the world’s most pressing challenges. She will be leading important strands of research in the fields of public policy economics, technology, industrial strategy and global inequality.

Diane Coyle is currently Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester and Co-Director of Policy at Manchester. She is a member of the Natural Capital Committee, a Fellow of the Office for National Statistics, and a researcher at the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence, leading the research programme on measuring the digital economy. She specialises in the economics of new technologies and competition policy, and founded the consultancy Enlightenment Economics. Her books include GDP: A Brief but Affectionate HistoryThe Economics of Enough: How to run the economy as if the future matters, and The Soulful Science.

Diane was a BBC Trustee for over eight years, and was also formerly a member of the Migration Advisory Committee and the Competition Commission. She was previously Economics Editor of The Independent and has worked at the Treasury and in the private sector as an economist.

Dr Grube Wins 2017 Mayer Journal Article Prize

last modified Oct 25, 2017 09:58 AM

Dr Dennis C. Grube has been awarded the 2017 Mayer Journal Article Prize by the Australian Political Studies Association. The prize is awarded annually for the best article published in the Australian Journal of Political Science in the previous year. Dr Grube’s winning article, entitled ‘Sticky Words? Towards a Theory of Rhetorical Path Dependency’ examines the extent to which political leaders can paint themselves into policy corners through their own choice of words. This is the second time Dr Grube has won the prize, having also won in 2015 for his article ‘Administrative learning or political blaming? Public servants, parliamentary committees and the drama of public accountability.’


Dr Zarakol named programme chair for EISA 2018

last modified Oct 09, 2017 09:30 AM

Dr Ayşe Zarakol has been named as one of the two programme chairs for the European International Studies Association's 12th Pan-European Conference. The European International Studies Association (EISA) is an individual membership based association, serving the International Relations community in Europe and beyond, and has rapidly grown to be one of the largest associations of International Relations scholars in the world. The 12th Pan-European Conference of the association will be held in Prague in September 2018. Programme chairs are responsible for assembling the entire programme with the assistance of section chairs.   

Call for sections is now open and more information can be accessed here:  


Winners of the CRIA MPhil prize announced

last modified Oct 04, 2017 02:53 PM

Generously supported by the Cambridge Review of International Affairs (CRIA), the Department is delighted to announce the first winners of the CRIA prize for the highest average mark on an MPhil course in 2016-17.

The Cambridge Review of International Affairs is a peer-reviewed journal which publishes original scholarship on international affairs. It is committed to publishing diverse approaches, methods and areas of analysis, and encourages the submission of interdisciplinary work from academics and policymakers.

This year the journal celebrates 30 years of publishing and the prize was launched to mark the occasion. 

The joint winners are Chelsea Donelon and Byron Hewson, who completed the MPhil in Development Studies and the MPhil in Public Policy, respectively. They both achieved an overall mark of 78 and will receive £150 in prize money. 




Bookings for the Festival of Ideas are now open

last modified Sep 25, 2017 03:24 PM

Bookings are now open for the 2017 Cambridge Festival of Ideas, which features a huge range of events and discussions on subjects ranging from empire and Brexit, the future of Europe and conspiracy theories to the past, present and future of India.


One in ten American light bulbs are lit by the Russians: Fake news?

Saturday 21 October: 11:00am - 12:00pm

Alison Richard Building, SG1/2, Sidgwick Site 7 West Road, CB3 9DT

Speaker: Shane Guy

Following the end of the Cold War, reports, some fake some genuine, flooded the media with claimed revelations about nuclear weapons. Were there missing Russian nuclear weapons designed to fit a student’s backpack and were there British nuclear weapons kept at the correct temperature by caged chickens within?

Greatly exceeding bait for the tabloids extraordinary achievements resulted from western programmes to assist Russian disarmament and prevent nuclear proliferation. Although collectively these may be counted alongside the Marshall Plan in terms of expenditure, few knew of them, and some that did published fake news in attempts to halt or slow them.

One outstanding programme, initiated and sustained by an American academic, was to lead to 50% of the power generated by United States’ Nuclear Power Stations between 1993 and 2013 being fuelled by uranium from or destined for Soviet Nuclear Weapons. The expression ‘One in ten light bulbs are lit by the Russians’ was coined by a Secretary of Energy to help get over to the public recognition of the success of what is colloquially known as the ‘Megatons to Megawatts’ agreement.

This talk explores accurately some of the successes and failures of the programmes and of their reporting.

If you would like to attend this event please book here:


Media, the state and propaganda: What is the truth

Saturday 21 October: 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Alison Richard Building, SG1/2, Sidgwick Site 7 West Road, CB3 9DT

Speaker: Ian Shields 

The State relies on the Media to spread its message, and the Media relies on the State for stories to report: to a large extent they are inter-dependent and although the Media will, in open Democracies, invariably claim to be independent, are they invariably the unwitting tool for the State to spread if not lies then at least propaganda? And do we, how could we, recognise propaganda for what it is? This talk, given by Ian Shields, a research student in POLIS, will explore these issues and try to answer the question of what is the truth? Or is the aim of this talk merely propaganda itself….

If you would like to attend this event please book here: 


The Return of Eastern Europe

Saturday 21 October: 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Alison Richard Building, SG1/2, Sidgwick Site 7 West Road, CB3 9DT

Speakers: Timothy Less & Professor Brendan Simms 

A 40-minute presentation by the Forum of Geopolitics, followed by questions and answers from the audience. In this presentation, Brendan Simms and Timothy Less of the University’s Forum on Geopolitics discuss the return of Eastern Europe and the significance of the continent’s east for Europe’s overall security and political architecture. With the collapse of communism, the old Eastern Europe largely disappeared from the map as the states of the region were integrated into Western structures such as NATO and the EU.

However, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the East is pulling away from the West, driven by a combination of new security threats, scepticism about the Western model of social and economic liberalism and the perceived ineffectiveness of NATO.

If events continue on their current trajectory, a loose alliance of states committed to political independence and the collective security of the region is likely to emerge, realising the vision of Eastern European intellectuals from the early twentieth century of an ‘Intermarium’ – an integrated space between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas. Such a development would have profound implications for the next phase of European politics. At the international level, the emergence of an Intermarium implies a new political and security architecture in Europe.

If the EU morphs into a loose collection of regional groupings over the next few years, then the Intermarium could be an important building block, with a distinct worldview and set of political priorities.

At the domestic level, it would imply that the model of ‘illiberal democracy’ emerging in Hungary, Poland and elsewhere in the region becomes a permanent and alternative form of government, rooted in Eastern European political traditions.

This event links to a project which the Forum on Geopolitics will run in 2018-19 on ‘The New Intermarium’ as part of its Laboratories of World Construction.'

If you would like to attend this event please book here:


Women and nation building in post-colonial India

Saturday 21 October: 2:30pm - 3:00pm

Alison Richard Building, S1, Sidgwick Site 7 West Road, CB3 9DT

Speaker: Dr Anjali Datta

This talk examines the Official discourse on women’s work in the immediate years following the partition and independence of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. The Indian state treated the refugee women of Punjab’s partition as a ‘national responsibility’ and provided some women with training and skills, equipping them with the ‘requisite’ qualifications to work in ways deemed ‘suitable’ for women.

The objective was to incorporate displaced women into the economy, something that the state could not, and would not, do for other women-citizens who were a part of stable, settled patriarchal households. But how far was the state successful in generating a category of ‘working woman’ among the refugee population? This paper will focus particularly on the vision of planners, mostly elite nationalist women, who became agents of state in implementing economic rehabilitation of refugee women in Delhi. Nationalist and social worker Kamladevi Chattopadhyay, called for a ‘craft renaissance’ in India, which became the force behind the refugee women’s handicraft industry in Delhi. But, how far was the ‘cottage industry model’ a flawed design for integrating women into the economy? Neither the newly independent Indian state, nor the refugee society, saw women playing a definitive role in nation building. Their work was often made invisible.

This ‘exclusion’ is explained on account of the intermittent nature of women’s work, the fact that women’s entry into the labour market is often driven by household exigencies. For many women, this meant that they worked all their lives, but their work was always regarded as supplementary. To understand how social construction of gender shaped the lives and work of women workers, wider social anxieties about women’s role and position at home have to be taken into account.

If you would like to attend this event please book here:

2017 R.A. Butler Prize Awarded

last modified Oct 09, 2017 12:19 PM

The R.A. Butler Prize is a competition for essays in Politics and International Studies for students in Year 12 or the Lower 6th. The Prize is jointly organised by Trinity College Cambridge and the Department of Politics and International Studies, and was established in memory of the former Master of Trinity College, Lord Butler.

This year we received an unprecedented 226 entries. The quality of the submitted essays was very high, with most entries thoroughly researched, carefully reasoned and often ambitiously argued. With the competition so intense and the submissions so excellent, the winning essays were consequently of very high calibre.

The 2017 winner of the R.A. Butler Prize is Folu Ogunyeye, from Aylesbury High School, who wrote to the essay question: ‘Is economic globalisation incompatible with national democracy?’

Folu wrote a superb essay on the tensions between two major features of our world. The essay makes excellent use of a wide range of sources and academic literatures, and has a sophisticated sense of arguments and counter-arguments. This was an outstanding, first-rank entry to the competition.

Congratulations to Folu, who received the First Prize of £600, half of which is given in the form of book tokens to her school!

Congratulations also to Eve McMullen from Minster School in Southwell, the winner of the Second Prize, who wrote to the question ‘Are the election of Donald Trump and the vote for Brexit the products of common causes?’ Eve won £400, half of which is given in book tokens to her school.

Eve’s essay presents a careful, nuanced understanding of the two political earthquakes of 2016. It reasons through its points effectively, and is shrewd at engaging critically with many of the commonly aired arguments about Brexit and Trump. This is an incisive, thoroughly impressive piece of work.

Folu and Eve visited Cambridge on Saturday 23rd September and they were joined by seven of eight candidates whose essays received special commendations. Here they are in Trinity College:

2017 R.A. Butler Prize

Pictured (top row, from the left): Joe Heath (The Gryphon School, Sherborne), Oliver Shaw (Lawrence Sheriff School, Rugby). Middle row: Asisa Johal (Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham), Adil Arif (Loughborough Grammar School), Elisa Giandomenico (Bilborough College, Nottingham). Bottom row: Sophie West (Sherborne School for Girls), winner of the First Prize, Folu Ogunyeye (Aylesbury High School), winner of the Second Prize, Eve McMullen (Minster School, Southwell), and Ish Tominey-Nevado (St Albans High School for Girls). Not pictured:  Harriet Milner (Exeter School, Exeter) who was sadly unable to join us on the day.

They were invited to join two discussions, which gave them a taste of what seminars at Cambridge can be like. They first considered the process of researching and writing their essays and later discussed with Dr Peter Sloman of POLIS if democracy is now in crisis.

2017 Butler Prize seminar

2017 Butler Prize seminar_1

We certainly hope they had a great time in Cambridge and enjoyed the programme on the day and participating in the R.A. Butler Prize competition.

Last but not least, many thanks to everyone who participated and made the selection process as enjoyable as it was difficult for the prize panel!

The questions for next year's competition will be advertised in March 2018, with a deadline for submitting the essay in August 2018. Any queries from teachers with students who may be interested in submitting work for the prize should be directed via email to

Postgraduate Open Day – 3rd November 2017

last modified Sep 20, 2017 11:15 AM

Postgraduate Open Day – 3rd November 2017

The Department of Politics and International Studies will be taking part in the second University of Cambridge Postgraduate Open Day on Friday 3 November 2017. This year it takes place at the University Centre.

The Postgraduate Open Day runs from 9am-5pm. In the morning, participants will be able to attend information sessions on the application process and related matters, such as research proposals. Graduate Admissions Office staff will be on hand to answer questions about postgraduate study and you can ask current postgraduate students about their experiences and life in Cambridge. Postgraduate Open Day participants will also have the chance to learn more about individual courses and talk to academic staff from the departments in the afternoon.

The Department of Politics and International Studies will have a stall at the University Centrewhere prospective applicants will have the opportunity to speak to administrators about each of the postgraduate courses and opportunities available at the Department. Parallel to this, course directors will be answering your questions during a Q&A session in the Alison Richard Building and you are welcome to chat with current postgraduate students.


University Centre

Administrators for the MPhil in Public Policy, the MPhil in International Relations and Politics, the MPhil and PhD in Development Studies and for the PhD in Politics and International Studies will be available to answer your questions.


Administrators for the MPhil in African Studies, the MPhil and the PhD in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies, the MPhil and PhD in Latin American Studies and the MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies will be on hand to answer questions about the courses.


General Queries


S1, Alison Richard Building

Q&A with the Course Directors for the PhD in Politics and International Studies, the MPhil in Public Policy and the MPhil in International Relations and Politics.

Max. 40 places



The University of Cambridge Postgraduate Open day is open to all prospective applicants for postgraduate study at the University and will provide opportunities to explore the Colleges, talk to Department academics and find out more about the application process. If you would like to attend the University of Cambridge Postgraduate Open Day, you can book a place here.

Places are limited so it is essential that you book a place and bring your ticket with you on the day. You are welcome to bring a parent or supporter with you. Please make sure to register them for the specific parent/supporter ticket available via the online booking form linked above. Access to hubs, facilities and Colleges will be restricted to ticket holders only.

We look forward to meeting you!

For queries about about the Department's sessions, please email