skip to primary navigationskip to content

News & Events

Site News

POLIS Festival of Ideas 2019

last modified Sep 17, 2019 12:45 PM

The Department of POLIS is excited to announce participation in this autumn's Festival of Ideas. We are delighted to have contributions from PhD students, Researchers, PostDocs and Academics in this year's lineup. The main day of events at the Sidgwick site will be concentrated on Saturday 19 October 2019. POLIS events are: 

  • 11am Changing Perceptions through Arts: Creativity in post-conflict societies by Maja Spanu
  • 11:30am The 2020 Presidential Election: Ideological and Institutional Change in American Politics by Sophie Rosenburg, Dan Smith, David Talbot
  • 1pm Managing Change in the Fourth Industrial Revolution by Mateus Labrunie
  • 1pm Re-ordering The Balkans by Timothy Less
  • 3:30pm Digital Life in Cities of Refuge by Matt Mahmoudi

There is one more POLIS activity on Friday 25 October 2019: 

  • Economics & climate change: from getting it wrong to making it right by Matthew Agarwala (Bennett Institute)

All bookings are to be made through the FOI website 

Martinez Dissertation Wins APSA MENA Award

last modified Sep 06, 2019 02:46 PM

Jose Martinez, one of our PhD students that finished in 2018 has received an award for his dissertation 'The Politics of Bread: State Power, Food Subsidies and Neoliberalization in Hashemite Jordan’ from the American Political Science Association's Middle East and North Africa Politics Section.

The awarding committee commented: "The committee was impressed by this 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. Combining theoretical fluency with empirical richness, the dissertation is based on a mix of detailed archival work, extensive interviews with policy- makers and other officials, and a multi-site ethnography conducted in bakeries over an eighteen month period of fieldwork."

The Department would like to extend its congratulations to Jose on his award.


Geoffrey Hawthorn Prize 2019

last modified Sep 09, 2019 03:11 PM

We are delighted to announce that this year’s winner of the Geoffrey Hawthorn Prize is Edmund Wilson. The Geoffrey Hawthorn Prize is awarded to the student with the highest average on papers POL1 and POL2. The prize is named after Emeritus Professor and former Head of Department Geoffrey Hawthorn, who sadly passed away in December 2015.

Edmund Wilson had this to say about his success: ‘Receiving the Geoffrey Hawthorn Prize is an honour I never once expected and will never forget. Many thanks to all involved for seeing my essays as deserving of this recognition. Many thanks also to all those who organised and taught the Part I HSPS course which I loved, given both its political breadth and its philosophical depth. I’m particularly grateful for the support from Selwyn College - notably from my POL1 and POL2 supervisors, Benjamin Studebaker and Dr Lauren Wilcox.

Though I have not come across Professor Hawthorn’s writings until now, the prize has prompted me to look them up. They look really interesting and relevant to my own passions, and I will definitely be reading some of them in the coming months. I also look forward eagerly to Part II of HSPS. This prize has given me renewed enthusiasm to study these topics long into the future - and one day, perhaps, to act on them in the political world beyond the academy.’

John Dunn Prize 2019

last modified Sep 09, 2019 03:11 PM

We are delighted to announce that the John Dunn prize for 2018-19 was shared by Jakob Gomolka and Todd Gillespie.

The John Dunn Prize is awarded for the best dissertation by a final year student and is named after Emeritus Professor John Dunn. 

Jakob Gomolka had this to say about his experience: 'Writing a third year dissertation under the supervision of Dr Tom Hopkins was a very enjoyable opportunity to explore a subject in much greater depth than term time normally allows. Curious about the implications of the emergence of atheism for European political thought, I dove into the history of nineteenth century socialism. What I found in the debates surrounding the writings of philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach was not only a connection between German idealism and Marx but also a historical precedent for questions that bothered me personally: modern disputes about realist political philosophy and intersubjective ethics of recognition. This made me rethink how to read the history of political thought more generally and encourages me to take the time to pursue even seemingly niche interests.'

Todd Gillespie made the following comment on his dissertation: 'I delved into the recent history of the American libertarian movement, its intersection with utopian theory and how this was manifest in the case of the Free State Project. Working on my dissertation has led me to give greater attention to certain aspects, particularly desire and psychology, in the way I consider topics in politics more generally. I'm very grateful for the academic windows opened by my supervisor and the opportunity to take on a dissertation essentially without limits.'


Fieldwork Photography Competition Winner

last modified Aug 13, 2019 11:51 AM

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 some fantastic submissions but we were able to narrow down our winners. 

In Third Place:

Alex Grigor, PhD candidate in Politics and International Studies.

New York City. "Photographed at a symposium on cyberwarfare in NYC. The masks represent the hacktivist group Anonymous. If you look closely in the reflections of the masks, many are signed by active Anonymous members, using their online pseudonyms"

In Second Place:

Karim El Taki, PhD candidate in Politics and International Studies.

Doha, Qatar. "Why have one surveillance camera on a pole when you can have five? In Doha, Education City’s Oxygen Park may at times be suffocating"

First Place:

Paola Velasco Herrejon, PhD Candidate, Centre of Development Studies.

Unión Hidalgo, Oax. Mexico. "In this shot the president of the landowners committee is teaching me to do a specific stitch while talking wind energy politics. I took it because I wanted to capture this safe and at the same time powerful space"

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!

Winner of the Lisa Smirl Prize for best PhD 2018-19 Announced

last modified Jul 19, 2019 08:01 AM

Sean Fleming wins the prize for his thesis: "Leviathan on a Leash: A Political Theory of State Responsibility,"


POLIS would like to offer their sincerest congratulations to former PhD student Sean Fleming who has won the 2018-19 Lisa Smirl Prize.

His thesis entitled, "Leviathan on a Leash: A Political Theory of State Responsibility," was described as a brilliant combination of history of political thought, political theory, and international law. 

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.




Dr Roberto Foa appointed as University Lecturer in Public Policy

last modified Jun 28, 2019 02:49 PM

We are delighted to announce that Dr Roberto Foa will be joining the Department of Politics and International Studies as University Lecturer in Public Policy from September 2019.

Dr Roberto Foa is currently a Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Melbourne. His research examines quality of government, regimes, and comparative social indicators. He is also interested in political methodology, including comparative survey work, index construction and design, geospatial analysis, and multi-method research. He was a Peter Martin Fellow at the Financial Times, worked for the World Bank as designer of the Indices of Social Development, and while living in Washington DC, founded the Washington European Society.

Roberto Foa’s academic work has been published in a wide range of Q1 journals, and cited in publications including The Economist, the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Guardian and The Atlantic.

Selected Publications:

Foa, Roberto Stefan and Anna Nemirovskaya (forthcoming 2019). "Frontier Settlement and the Spatial Variation of Civic Institutions." Political Geography. 

Foa, Roberto Stefan and Yascha Mounk (forthcoming 2019). "Youth and the Populist Wave." Philosophy and Social Criticism.

Foa, Roberto Stefan. (2018). "Modernization and Authoritarianism." Journal of Democracy, 29(3).

Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa. (2018) "The End of the Democratic Age: Autocracy’s Global Ascendance." Foreign Affairs, Vol. 97(3): pp 20-8.

Foa, Roberto Stefan. (2017). "Persistence or Reversal of Fortune? Early State Inheritance and the Legacies of Colonial Rule." Politics and Society, 45(2): pp 301-24.

Foa, Roberto Stefan and Yascha Mounk. (2017). "The End of the Consolidation Paradigm" Journal of Democracy, Web Exchange on Democratic Deconsolidation. 

Foa, Roberto Stefan, Ronald F. Inglehart, Tatiana Karabchuk and Eduard Ponarin. (2017). "Set-Point Theory and Societal Collapse: The Case of Russia." Journal of Happiness Studies, Vol. 18(3): pp. 1-18.

Foa, Roberto Stefan and Yascha Mounk. (2017). "The Signs of Deconsolidation." Journal of Democracy, Vol 28(1): 5-15.

Foa, Roberto Stefan and Grzegorz Ekiert. (2017). "The Weakness of Postcommunist Civil Society Reassessed." European Journal of Political Research, Vol 56(1): pp. 419-39.

Foa, Roberto Stefan. (2016). "It’s the Globalization, Stupid." Foreign Policy, December.

Foa, Roberto Stefan and Yascha Mounk. (2016). "The Danger of Deconsolidation: Democratic Disconnect." Journal of Democracy, Vol. 27(3): pp 5-17.

Foa, Roberto Stefan and Anna Nemirovskaya. (2016). "How State Capacity Varies Within Frontier States: A Multi-Country Subnational Analysis." Governance, Vol. 29(1): pp. 411-32.


Dr Cristina Peñasco appointed as University Lecturer in Public Policy

last modified Jun 03, 2019 03:33 PM

We are delighted to announce that Dr Cristina Peñasco will be joining the Department of Politics and International Studies as University Lecturer in Public Policy from September 2019. 

Dr Cristina Peñasco hold a PhD in Economics and an MPhil in Research in Economics and Business. She is currently and Assistant Professor in Applied Economics in the University of Alcalá (Spain) and currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge (UK).

Since November 2017, she has been also a Centre Fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance (C-EENRG) belonging to the Department of Land Economy of the University of Cambridge. Previously, she was a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Institute of Public Policies and Goods (IPP) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and a visiting researcher at the Energy Economics Group (EEG) of the Insitute of Energy Systems and Electrical Drives at the Vienna University of Technology (TU WIEN).

Her research lines bring together multidisciplinary research in environmental economics, innovation policy and energy economics in green and energy efficiency technologies, with a focus on the policy instruments enabling the transition to low-carbon economies. She has a strong background on statistical and quantitative methods of analysis and econometric techniques that has served her to publish several articles in world-class journals such as Technological and Economic Development of the Economy, Energy Policy or Business Strategy and the Environment among others.

Selected publications:

1.    Peñasco, C., Anadon, L.D. 2018. A comparative analysis of renewable energy policy in Spain and the United Kingdom- a focus on innovation outcomes. Papeles de Enregia, 5:69-150.

2.    Del Rio, P., Peñasco, C., Mir-Artigues, P. 2018. An overview of drivers and barriers to concentrated solar power in the European Union.

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 81(1): 1019-1029.

3.    Peñasco, C., del Río, P., Romero-Jordán, D. 2017. Gas and electricity demand in Spanish manufacturing industries: An analysis using homogeneous and heterogeneous estimators, Utilities Policy, 45: 45-60.

4.    Peñasco, C., Del Río, P., Romero, D. 2017. Analysing the role of international drivers for eco-innovators. Journal of International Management, 23 (1):56-71.

5.    Del Río, P., Peñasco, C., Romero, D. 2017. Analysing firm-specific and type-specific determinants of eco-innovation. Technological and Economic Development of the Economy, 23 (2): 270-295.

6.    Del Río, P., Peñasco, C., Romero, D. 2016. What drives eco-innovators? A critical review of the empirical literature based on econometric methods. Journal of cleaner production, 112 (4): 2158-2170.

7.    Romero-Jordán, D., Del Río, P., Peñasco, C., 2016. An analysis of the welfare and distributive implications of factors influencing household electricity consumption. Energy Policy, 88: 361-370.



Postgraduate Open Day – 1st November 2019

last modified May 08, 2019 02:22 PM

The Open Day for students interested in coming to Cambridge to study on a postgraduate course will be on Friday 1 November 2019.

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.

Dr Holly Porter appointed as University Lecturer in Gender Studies

last modified Apr 15, 2019 09:57 AM

Holly PorterWe are delighted to announce that Dr Holly Porter will be joining the Centre for Gender Studies as University Lecturer in Gender Studies from September 2019. Dr Porter is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics and holds a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship with the Institute of Development Policy and Management (University of Antwerp) and the Conflict Research Group (Ghent University).

Dr Porter’s research has focused on gender, sexualities, violence, and local notions of social healing and justice, particularly on women’s experiences after rape in northern Uganda where she has lived for more than ten years. Previously, she has worked in South Sudan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, and Palestine in the fields of access to justice, gender-based violence, transitional justice, peacebuilding and human rights.

She is the author of After rape: violence justice and social harmony in Uganda, published by Cambridge University Press. Her work has also been published in journals, including Africa, the Women's Studies International Forum, and the Journal of Eastern African Studies.

Selected publications:

Congratulations to Pedro Mendes Loureiro

last modified Apr 02, 2019 12:17 PM

Pedro Mendes Loureiro, University Lecturer in Latin American Studies at the Centre of Latin American Studies, has won Honourable Mention for Best Dissertation from the Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association.

See the award announcement here.

2019 Antcliffe Lecture Tickets Available

last modified Apr 02, 2019 11:57 AM

Thirty Years On: Thatcher, 1989 and the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Wednesday 8th May

The 2019 Antcliffe Lecture will be given by Dr  Robert Saunders, Senior Lecturer in Modern British History, Queen Mary, University of London.

Thirty years ago, a tide of revolutions swept through Eastern Europe, triggering the collapse of the Communist bloc, the reunification of Germany and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Symbolised by the fall of the Berlin Wall, the events of 1989 stirred a heady brew of emotions in the West, ranging from amazement and admiration to fear and trepidation. For Margaret Thatcher, the collapse of communism might have been a moment of triumph; yet her attempts to slow the pace of change put her at odds with other world leaders and out of step with opinion in Britain. Barely a year later, she herself would fall from power. This lecture assesses the role of the 1989 revolutions in the fall of Margaret Thatcher. It explores the hopes and fears that animated Thatcher's response, and asks what this might tell us about Thatcherism, Euroscepticism and the significance of the Cold War in modern British politics.

Tickets for this free event are available here.

Graham Denyer Willis publishes in the American Political Science Review

last modified Mar 07, 2019 01:19 PM

Dr Graham Denyer Willis, Senior Lecturer in Development and Latin American Studies in the Department of Politics and International Studies, is published in the American Political Science Review:

Legitimacy in Criminal Governance: Managing a Drug Empire from Behind Bars

Find his article here.

POLIS Announces New PhD Studentships

last modified Feb 19, 2019 03:28 PM

The Department of Politics and International Studies is pleased to announce five new PhD studentships. Each will fund a full-time 3-year doctoral degree in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge covering fees and maintenance at the standard Research Council rate. Four of these studentships are part of a long-term initiative to support postgraduate study in Politics and International Studies, funded by YouGov.

The award of these studentships will be merit-based, with preference to applicants from the UK/EU. 

More information about PhD fees and funding can be found here.

MPhil Team win Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

last modified Feb 19, 2019 02:04 PM

This past week, four POLIS MPhil International Relations and Politics students (Tomass Pildegovics, Jamie MacColl, Gary Dreyer, Ainsley Katz) won the 1st place prize at the Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge. The competition featured 17 teams from around the United Kingdom and was hosted in the BT Tower in London. The first place grand prize is an all-expenses paid trip to attend Black Hat USA 2019 (a cybersecurity conference) in Las Vegas in August 2019.

In the competition, teams take on the role of senior advisors to government ministers in responding to an evolving cyber attack. Over two days, the scenario evolves through three rounds with a grand finale in front of senior UK cyber security experts. The competition is multidisciplinary in nature, allowing those with a nontechnical background to test the waters of both cyber security and policymaking. The Cyber 9/12 Challenge underscores the importance of blended learning and cross-sectoral coordination that are critical to cyber security. This, in turn, emphasises the value of a diverse and innovative cyber-security workforce.

In addition to the competition, the Atlantic Council also organised networking sessions where the student team members had the opportunity to meet and learn from experts in the fields of cyber security, military, telecommunications, and journalism. Congratulations to all on behalf of the Department!

MPP candidate awarded 2019-20 Kanders Churchill Scholarship

last modified Jan 22, 2019 03:28 PM
The Kanders Churchill Scholarship is awarded from a pool of applicants to the Cambridge Master’s in Public Policy.

Congratulations to Clara Ma, who has received the Kanders Churchill Scholarship for her 2019/20 Master of Public Policy programme. 

The Churchill Scholarship and Kanders Churchill Scholarship are for one year of Master’s study at Churchill College in the University of Cambridge. The awards cover full tuition, a stipend, travel costs, and the chance to apply for a $2,000 special research grant. The Churchill Scholarship dates to 1963.


Dr Iza Hussin's book featured in LSE top reads list for colonial politics

last modified Jan 21, 2019 12:13 PM

Iza BookIza Hussin’s book, The Politics of Islamic Law (University of Chicago Press), has recently been featured as an LSE Recommended Read on Colonial Histories, Colonial Legacies. The book, which was a finalist for the American Political Science Association’s David Greenstone Award in Politics and History, was reviewed as “a work of unique critical sensibilities, setting the scene for future interdisciplinary research of colonial and postcolonial Islamic law as fruitful analytical categories.”

Dr Zarakol’s book wins recognition from ISA Theory section

last modified Jan 03, 2019 10:39 AM

Dr Zarakol’s edited volume, Hierarchies in World Politics, has been named runner up for the 2019 ISA Theory section prize for edited volumes and journal special issues. The prize certificate will be presented at the 2019 ISA Convention in Toronto. Prof Sharman is also a contributor to this volume.

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 Jan 03, 2019 08:29 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)
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 Jan 16, 2019 11:29 AM

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. 

These studentships are part of a long-term initiative to support postgraduate study in Politics and International Studies, funded by YouGov. 

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.


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.