skip to primary navigationskip to content

News & Events

Site News

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

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.

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:

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

Witwatersrand-Cambridge Exchange Programme Announced

last modified Sep 19, 2017 01:20 PM
The SARChI/Newton Bilateral NRF/British Academy Research Chair in Political Theory, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, and Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Cambridge, hereby announces a new academic exchange programme.

Early career lecturers, postdoctoral fellows and PhD students whose research in political theory (broadly conceived) would benefit from spending time in the other institution are encouraged to apply for this scheme. The scheme can accommodate visits for one month up to six months in either institution. This exchange programme is one of the central pillars of the Bilateral Research Chair in Political Theory, held by Professor Lawrence Hamilton, who as a condition of the Chair is based at Wits for the first six months of each calendar year and at POLIS for the second six months of the year. Researchers should ideally therefore arrange their stay so that it coincides with the teaching terms at Wits and Cambridge and includes some overlap with his movements (though this is not mandatory if timings can not work out this way).

For more information, click here

Tammy Chen 1984-2017

last modified Aug 15, 2017 04:32 PM
The Department wishes to express our profound shock and sadness at the death of our student Tammy Chen

The Department Politics and International Studies and the Centre of Development Studies wish to express our profound shock and sadness at the death of our student Tammy Chen in a terrorist attack in Burkina Faso.  Our very deepest sympathy goes out to Tammy’s family and her many friends.

Tammy was finishing a PhD in Development Studies focusing on poverty, gender and women’s empowerment. Staff at the Centre of Development Studies paid tribute to her –

“We are profoundly saddened by the recent killing of our student, friend, and mutual inspiration, Tammy Chen. She was a superlative woman whose steps through life reflect a kind of conviction that few people show, or care to show. Whether she was teaching Canadian anglophones French, or working with impoverished women in Sub-saharan Africa to build new pathways to safety, food security and self-sufficiency, Tammy was an embodiment of what the world should be.  She moved against the grain of injustice and inequality, pushing and breaking through boundaries to make mutual understanding and care for others a foundation of a world that we do, in fact, all share. We hold Tammy, and all that she worked for and was inspired to make, as a model of what a human being should be. She made the Centre of Development Studies, and those around her, better.”

As a member of Gonville and Caius College, Tammy has been remembered as “a bright and enthusiastic student, and a warm and compassionate human being” and a studentship is to be established in her memory. You can read the College’s full tribute to Tammy, here.   

You can read the University's statement here

PhD poster competition winner announced

last modified Aug 10, 2017 10:17 AM
The department of POLIS is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2017 PhD poster competition is Nabila Idris.

Nabila Idris

Nabila is studying the politics of policymaking. Her current research investigates the political settlement behind social protection policy in Bangladesh. Other than this, she is also interested in social policy, civil society, youth activism and ethics in development.

She is a second year PhD student in Development Studies and also the founding president of CommunityAction -- a youth-led civil society organisation in Bangladesh that has over a thousand members. The organisation built Bangladesh's first digital textbook library for the visually impaired, and runs a successful scholarship program for underprivileged students as well as a business development and seed funding program for extreme poor households. The upshot of these activities is that she has been interested in the status quo of girls in Bangladesh for the longest time because that had a direct impact on her work. 

Her poster presents her findings and conclusions after studying the lives of Bangladeshi girls and how they learn, earn, save and keep safe. 


Winning poster:

Poster Nabila Idris


Runners up:

Poster Paola Velasco Herrejon

 Poster by Paola Velasco Herrejón


Poster Arief Lubis

Poster by Arief Wibisono Lubis



Adam Branch and Sarah Nouwen (Law) receive School support for 'Rethinking Transitional Justice from African Perspectives'

last modified Jul 18, 2017 10:43 AM
Adam Branch and Sarah Nouwen (Law) receive School support for 'Rethinking Transitional Justice from African Perspectives'

Adam Branch and Xolela Mangcu (credit @crasshlive)

The School of the Humanities and Social Sciences has awarded Dr Adam Branch and Dr Sarah Nouwen (Law) funding for Rethinking Transitional Justice from African Perspectives, a multidisciplinary, international, collaborative research and advocacy programme that seeks to establish a new foundation for transitional justice in Africa.

The programme seeks to develop new ways for collaboration among scholars and activists in universities in the Global North and South and aims to make the practice of transitional justice more relevant to the needs of (post-)conflict societies by scrutinising its very foundations.

Drawing on law, politics, development studies, anthropology, history, gender studies, international relations and ecological studies, the investigators hope to examine what goals transitional justice seeks to achieve and propose new tools to meet those objectives. 

The programme's experiences could make the University of Cambridge a leader in a new way of engaging in collaborative transnational research, in transitional justice and beyond.  


Our POLIS Undergraduate Prize Winners Speak

last modified Jul 05, 2017 10:32 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 Geoffrey Hawthorn Prize for the highest average mark in papers POL1 and POL2 is awarded to Zsofia Hesketh (Gonville and Caius College):

"I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to have received the Prize, and would like to thank the Part I examiners for awarding it to me. I am so proud of my hard work, which has allowed me to achieve such great results in my politics papers. Having thoroughly enjoyed the course in first year, I cannot wait to continue my studies on the Politics and International Relations track.’’

 The John Dunn Prize is awarded each year to the Part IIB student who submits the best dissertation. This year Jade Treneary (Trinity Hall) and her dissertation ‘’Rousseau and the prospect of perfectibility’’ was selected as the most worthy winner. Here is Jade’s comment about her work:

 I really loved doing a dissertation in my third year and it felt great  to have a long term project running alongside other supervision work. The extended time frame was useful in allowing me to explore lots of areas before focusing on Judith Shklar and Ernst Cassirer's interpretations of perfectibility. I found it really interesting to analyse how two readings of Rousseau could be so different, and learnt a lot about secondary interpretation of texts in the process.’’

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 conspiracy theories a threat to democracy?’ written by Theodore Demolder (Selwyn College) to be the best POL5 essay in the crop.

Theo Demolder writes:

‘’I really enjoyed the scope to explore particular interests which POL5 provides - and with this essay in particular it was very helpful to be able to draw on some of the talks and research from the five year CRASSH conspiracy and democracy project. I began with only a vague sense of conspiracy theories in Russia and Poland - and an interest in them - but working on the essay helped me to gain a better understanding of those cases as well as the lessons they might provide for the most obvious contemporary instance of conspiracy theories: Trump's America.’’

Congratulations to Zsofia, Jade and Theodore, and to all undergraduate students on their hard work this year.

Supervisor Award 2016-17

last modified Sep 04, 2017 04:05 PM

New for 2016-17, the Department has established a Supervisor Award for staff and students who have supervised on our undergraduate papers as part of the HSPS Tripos. 

Students across the Tripos were invited to nominate their supervisors, and we were delighted to receive over 60 nominations. Students were asked to evaluate their supervisors against certain criteria - organisational skill, communication skill, essay support 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 joint winners of the Supervisor Award are Dr Thomas Hopkins, Teaching Associate, and Dr Caroline Ashcroft, Postdoctoral Researcher. They will share the prize of £100. 

Comments in support of Dr Thomas Hopkins - 

"Tom is an amazing supervisor who seems to have no limit in his knowledge or his ability to transmit it. He is an endless provider of helpful tips for thinking, reading and writing...He manages to make every supervision a fun and engaging exercise, turning even the most poorly researched essays into a chance to deeply think and learn about the issues at hand, and his enthusiasm for political thought and philosophy is contagious. He is not only the best at providing academic support, he helped me with figuring out what to do after Cambridge, and has always been amazing and understanding in those times when Cambridge gets difficult. He is an incredibly friendly and dedicated supervisor and DoS, and I dearly hope he wins."

Comments in support of Dr Caroline Ashcroft - 

"Caroline was an incredibly kind and helpful supervisor who would respond to even the slightest concern with huge emails filled with reassuring and interesting answers to questions."

"Caroline is also the best supervisor I have ever had in terms of actually reading and offering to help with things listed on my student support document...she went above and beyond to offer help wherever possible."

Honourary mentions - 

Dr Burcu Ozcelik - "Burcu was one of the best supervisors I've ever had here at Cambridge- she provided extremely valuable constructive criticism, was extremely approachable, and managed to build- rather than undermine- my own confidence in my work."

Dr Devon Curtis - "Devon went above and beyond to convey her passion for the course and made a real effort to cultivate this same passion in her students...She was very approachable and always asked me how I was feeling and coping which I valued a lot in my final year of university."

Dr Glen Rangwala - "Dr Rangwala was an extremely helpful, interesting and enjoyable supervisor. Available, both inside and outside of supervisions, to assist with questions and thoughts, he would very much happily listen to your own ideas and arguments (even if they were to be later comprehensively refuted!). Dr Rangwala provided myself, and no doubt many other students, with a real sense of passion for, and knowledge of, the politics of the Middle East."

Dr Peter Sloman - "Dr Sloman is not only incredibly knowledgeable, but he is approachable, gregarious, and kind, with a great sense of humour. He's incredibly responsive to emails, and put up with extremely long supervision essays from me and my supervision partner, even at short notice. He has immensely enriched the study of British politics for me, and his lectures and supervisions were among the best, if not the best, I've had at Cambridge."

Dr Damien Valdez - "Dr Valdez was born to teach...A pleasure all around."


Dr Jude Browne awarded a 2017 Pilkington Prize for Teaching Excellence

last modified Jun 23, 2017 10:21 AM

Dr Jude Browne, Director of the Centre for Gender Studies, has been awarded one of the thirteen Pilkington Prizes given to academics across the University in recognition of their outstanding teaching.

The Pilkington Prizes were initiated by Sir Alastair Pilkington – graduate of Trinity College, engineer, businessman and the first Chairman of the Cambridge Foundation – who passionately believed that teaching excellence was crucial to Cambridge’s future success.

In his letter of support, the Head of the Department of Politics and International Studies, Professor David Runciman wrote:

“For fifteen years Jude Browne has been an outstanding teacher of Gender Studies, pioneering both undergraduate and graduate courses and contributing an enormous amount to help raise the profile of interdisciplinary approaches to the teaching of gender across the University.  Her personal commitment has been tireless and transformative.  As course director and a fully engaged, hands-on teacher she has developed the MPhil in Gender Studies into one of the leading programmes in the country, designing and delivering courses that have received consistently outstanding feedback.  In the last two years she has introduced a new paper in Gender and Politics into the HSPS Tripos, which has garnered glowing tributes from students, who speak of its range, its topicality and its ability to broaden their horizons.  ‘The best thing I have studied here!’ is a wholly typical response.  Jude has been a superb supervisor and Director of Studies for King’s College and has played a significant role in ensuring the overall success of the HSPS Tripos.  It is hard to think of anyone who has done more for social science teaching in Cambridge in recent years: Jude has helped to change its focus, to engage our students and to draw different subjects together.”

The Pilkington Prizes are organised by The Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning, which supports staff by providing training, developing networks, hosting events and encouraging and funding innovation. The Centre also provides a focus for strategic priorities within Cambridge and for engaging with national and international developments in higher education.

Postdoc success

last modified Jun 13, 2017 02:03 PM

POLIS is delighted to announce that Dr Burcu Ozcelik and Dr Eliza Garnsey will be (re)joining the Department in 2017/18, having both been awarded Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Dr Ozcelik’s research proposal, Resurgence or resilience? Religious nationalism, democracy and violence takes an innovative approach that reconsiders the cross-border politics of piety to further our understanding of the relationship between religion and nationalism in the Middle East. Examining minority-majority relations between religious identity groups and the state to historicise the dichotomy and its relevance today will involve questions of how religious nationalist movements confront the state system to reform at certain junctures, but can contribute to the resilience of illiberal states at others.

By focusing mainly on three cases—Kurdish Islamism and Alevism in Turkey and Shi’a nationalism in Iraq—as well as comparative analyses beyond the Middle East, Dr Ozcelik will examine diverse constructions of populist religious nationalism, focusing on hybridity, mimicry and adaptation within and beyond the region. Her work will challenge orthodox narratives about populism and power in the Middle East, exploring the extent to which religious nationalist actors captured ideas on social justice, equality, and even cosmopolitanism—crafting non-Western accounts of democracy that captured the imagination and loyalty of many. Throwing into question conventional assumptions about politicised religious identity in the Middle East, the project will also consider, for example, socialist, radical-democratic and secular Muslims beyond the tired Sunni-Shi’a sectarian lens. She has been awarded funding by the Leverhulme Trust and the Isaac Newton Trust.


Dr Garnsey will be working on Visual jurisprudence: a new theory of art and justice. ‘Visual jurisprudence’ is a recent concept referring to the array of visual evidence used inside the courtroom. For example, how do photographs engender belief when presented as evidence during a case? However, what does it mean when ‘visuals’ are not only presented as evidence but when they take the form of artworks and inhabit the space of a court? How do artworks and other instances of visual culture affect the provision of justice both inside and outside the courtroom? While images of judges and insignias are common sights in courts, other artworks and art collections are increasingly housed by and displayed in courts. The conception of visual jurisprudence Dr Garnsey proposes to develop through her research theorises how artworks become central to the bodies of aesthetic knowledge that shape how justice is understood and that shape the appearance of justice—two key concerns in political theory. She has been awarded funding by the British Academy.

Dr Zarakol’s After Defeat selected as a Book of the 21st Century by Russian newspaper

last modified May 24, 2017 08:47 AM

Dr Ayşe Zarakol’s After Defeat: How the East Learned to Live with the West (Cambridge University Press, 2011) was named as one of the nine books one must read in order to understand the 21st century by the Russian daily newspaper, Republic. The short list was created from a survey of leading journalists in Russia. Among other books so named are From the Ruins of Empire by Pankaj Misra, Submission by Michel Houellebecq and Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out by Mo Yan.

Dr Geoffrey Edwards wins CUSU award for best supervisor

last modified May 18, 2017 04:14 PM

Dr Geoffrey Edwards has been awarded the best postgraduate supervisor prize in the CUSU teaching awards.

These student led awards are based on student nominations. CUSU received nearly 600 nominations for this year's awards, and Dr Edwards - who is a Senior Fellow in the Department and Emeritus Reader in European Studies - was given the overall prize for best postgraduate supervisor by the student judging panel. A group of current POLIS PhD students worked together on Dr Edwards' nomination, on behalf of the dozens of MPhil and PhD students who he has supervised and supported over the years, and three of them attended the awards ceremony with Dr Edwards on the 9th May.  

To see the rest of the winners in the CUSU awards, please follow this link: 

Congratulations, Geoffrey!

Our Gates International Scholars Announced

last modified May 08, 2017 01:45 PM

Fifty-five of the most academically outstanding and socially committed international applicants have been selected to be part of the 2017 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars at the University of Cambridge - and seven will be joining the Department of POLIS.


Ms Maria Hengeveld

PhD Development Studies 

Maria's M.A thesis used the feminist philanthropy and humanitarian alliances of the sports giant Nike as a case study to examine the consequences of this trend, a topic she was able to further investigate as a journalist in Vietnam. For this investigation, which was published at Slate and supported by The Nation Institute in New York, she interviewed 18 Nike workers about their wages and working conditions. These conversations, coupled with other journalistic work on this subject and a consultancy project with the International Labour Organization sparked her desire to investigate the CSR industry, particularly its labour dimensions, as a PhD student at Cambridge's Centre for Development Studies.


Ms Leena Dahal

MPhil Modern South Asian Studies

Leena's proposed study explores how social media helped or hindered nuanced discussion on nationalism and identity in response to the 2015 unofficial border blockade between Nepal and India. By highlighting the ways in which social media driven narratives can influence how nationalism is embodied, her research will attempt to unpack the process by which complex phenomenon can turn into ‘broad-brush’ approaches to strategically influence particular stakeholders involved in the conflicts. 


Miss Kerry Mackereth

PhD Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies

Kerry's PhD in Gender Studies will examine spectacular acts of political violence committed against the self, and the narratives surrounding these acts of political self-sacrifice. She plans to focus on women who undertake such radical acts, with a specific focus on female hunger strikers. Her thesis will explore the stories their ravaged bodies tell about politics, and what kinds of stories we tell about these bodies. She is particularly concerned with the powerful role discourse plays in shaping our beliefs about gender and sexuality, as evidenced in the international news media’s coverage of radical political acts. 


Ms Mayra Tenorio Lopez

MPhil Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies

Mayra's research at Cambridge will explore the creation of corporeal responses to violence and collective resistance with other women from the perspective of indigenous women in Guatemala. As an aspiring feminist scholar in the social sciences, her studies will prepare her to engage rigorously with the challenges posed by gender inequality, and further, expand her analysis and vision so that her work may expose and create alternative worlds and possibilities for everyone, especially women.


Ms Yassamin Ansari

PhD Politics and International Studies

Yassamin served on the climate team that advised UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and helped to deliver the historic Paris Agreement. She continued working to address climate change as the Director of the Climate Action 2016 Summit and as a consultant in the Office of the UN Youth Envoy. At Cambridge, her MPhil research merges her interests in climate change and international security. As a PhD candidate, she will build upon this work with a focus on the Middle East.


Ms Erica Gaston

PhD Politics and International Studies

Erica's research explores whether the control mechanisms that external actors establish when working with local or hybrid security forces can successfully mitigate the risks and costs of doing so. Whether or not such mechanisms work has significant implications for local civilians in an increasing number of areas, and for international security strategy as a whole.


Mr Sergio Giuliano

MPhil Public Policy

Sergio was born in San Juan, Argentina, and studied law in Buenos Aires at Universidad de San Andrés where he is currently on leave from teaching Constitutional Rights and Interpretation of the Law. He also holds a Master of Laws degree from Yale Law School where he focused on comparative constitutional law and human rights. Sergio will pursue an MPhil in Public Policy with the objective of acquiring tools and skills to explore ways in which courts can successfully be part of public policy development and implementation.


To read the full biographies of our Scholars please follow this link:

Professor Christopher Hill awarded the Ufficiale del’Ordine della Stella d’Italia

last modified May 08, 2017 09:54 AM

POLIS is delighted to report that Professor Hill has been decorated by the Italians, having been awarded the rank of Ufficiale del’Ordine della Stella d’Italia. 

Chris Hill Italy

The honour was conferred last Wednesday (April 26 2017) in the Italian Embassy,  by Ambassador Terracciano  The award does not directly correspond to anything in the UK, but was awarded to Professor Hill for encouraging the development of the academic subject of International Relations in Italy, and for contributions to the study of Italian and European foreign policies.

Polis PhD Alasia Nuti Wins PSA Elizabeth Wiskermann Dissertation Prize for the Study of Inequality and Social Justice

last modified Apr 27, 2017 04:55 PM

We are very pleased to announce that Polis PhD Alasia Nuti has won the inaugural Political Studies Association Elizabeth Wiskermann Dissertation Prize for the Study of Inequality and Social Justice for her thesis, 'Historical structural injustice: on the normative significance of the unjust past'.

Dr Jude Browne quoted the piece as '... an outstanding thesis. Drawing on a wide and deep reading of relevant literatures, it makes a major contribution to the historical injustice literature and to the literature on gender injustice/ inequality. The research is ambitious in its objectives, meticulously executed as well as being beautifully presented.'


POLIS Poster Competition 2017

last modified Apr 25, 2017 01:09 PM

We are delighted to announce the 2nd POLIS Academic Poster Competition, open to all PhD students in POLIS.

Academic posters are a great way to disseminate your research and to promote your work at conferences. A good academic poster will capture attention, explain your ideas and open further discussions. Entering the competition will give you valuable experience in presenting your research to your peers. All entrants will receive individual feedback from our team of judges and the winning poster will win a prize of £100.

Dates for your diaries:

26th June -Deadline for final poster submission.

July - The overall winner will be announced and will receive a prize of £100.


Full details, guidance, examples and resources for creating an academic poster can be found on the PhD Poster Competition Moodle Site

For more information, please contact 

Dr Ayse Zarakol's takes up editor position with Palgrave Studies in International Relations (PSIR)

last modified Mar 22, 2017 11:34 AM

Dr Ayşe Zarakol has recently taken up one of the editor positions with Palgrave Studies in International Relations (PSIR) series. PSIR, published in association with European International Studies Association, provides scholars with the best theoretically-informed scholarship on the global issues of our time. The series includes cutting-edge monographs and edited collections which bridge schools of thought and cross the boundaries of conventional fields of study. If you are working on a manuscript that you think may be appropriate for this series, feel free to contact Dr Zarakol for a discussion. 

Our new blog - In the Long Run

last modified Mar 15, 2017 12:08 PM

The Department is delighted to have launched its new blog - In The Long Run. The blog aims to cut through the ephemera of trending news to provide insight from leading academic voices in Cambridge and around the world. The blog will feature accessible writing on politics and public policy based on timely reflection and cutting-edge research. It will also publish short commentary, interviews, book reviews, and videos, using today’s news to stimulate new thinking about the past, present, and future.

The editorial team for the blog is based in the Department of POLIS and includes academics and graduate students from across the fields of politics, development studies, public policy, and international relations.

Contributions are welcome from academics and students from both inside and outside of Cambridge. We welcome articles, interviews (text, audio, or video), book reviews and shorter pieces.

In the Long Run has been up and running since the start of 2017, and you can read the current posts here 

Launch event

To celebrate the launch of the blog, the Department hosted a roundtable discussion on Monday 13th March on the French presidential election. Chaired by Dr Dennis Grube (POLIS), the panellists included Hugo Drochon (CRASSH), Olivier Tonneau (MML) and Melanie Lamotte (History). The panellists surveyed the issues at stake and examined what an Emmanuel Macron, Francois Fillon, or Marine Le Pen presidency would mean for France and Europe. 

Professor Michael Kenny joins POLIS in June 2017

last modified Mar 09, 2017 09:50 AM

The Department is very pleased to announce that Professor Michael Kenny will be joining us as the new Professor of Public Policy from 1 June 2017.

Michael will be taking on leadership of the MPhil in Public Policy as the programme continues to develop and evolve following an interesting and exciting four years. Michael will also be joining up with colleagues across the Public Policy spectrum in Cambridge and will be working with the Department to extend its teaching into new areas.

Before he arrived in Cambridge, Michael held positions at: at Queen’s University, Belfast; the University of Sheffield, where he was appointed Head of Politics; and Queen Mary University of London , where he was the inaugural Director of the Mile End Institute. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the UCL’s Constitution Unit, sits on the Leverhulme Trust’s Advisory Committee, and is co-director of the British Academy’s “Governing England” programme.