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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



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


PhD Thomas Maguire wins Lisa Smirl Prize

last modified Jul 08, 2015 02:46 PM

We would like to offer our warmest congratulations to Thomas Maguire, who has been chosen to receive the Lisa Smirl Prize for his excellent work towards his PhD and his thesis, "British and American intelligence and anti-communist propaganda in early Cold War Southeast Asia, 1948-1961".

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 Jude Browne awarded Pilkington Prize 2016/17

last modified Feb 22, 2017 01:16 PM
Dr Jude Browne awarded Pilkington Prize 2016/17

Jude Brown

The Department is delighted to congratulate Dr Jude Browne, Reader in Gender and Politics and The Jessica and Peter Frankopan Director of the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies, on being awarded a 2016/17 Pilkington Prize for teaching.

In his letter of support, Head of Department Prof 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 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 Prize awards were inaugurated in 1994 and endowed by Sir Alastair Pilkington to acknowledge excellence in teaching. The prizes are awarded to individuals who make a substantial contribution to the teaching programme of a Department, Faculty or the University as a whole. There are twelve prizes awarded each year, with nominations made by each School.  The prizes are awarded annually by the Vice-Chancellor.

POLIS Academic Poster Competition

last modified Apr 29, 2016 01:47 PM

We are delighted to announce the 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.

Dates for your diaries

  • 10th June - Deadline for the initial submission of your first draft. 
  • 10th July - Feedback from POLIS academic judging team will be given to all entrants. This feedback can be used to improve the poster before the final deadline, or before you take it to conference with you. 
  • 10th September - Deadline for final poster submission.
  • October - Induction Day. The top posters (chosen by the panel of judges) will be printed and displayed in the Alison Richard Building. PhD students, postdocs and academics will be invited to vote for the overall winner who will receive a prize of £100. 

The competition is open to all POLIS PhD students and the winning poster will win a prize of £100.

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

For more information, please contact

POLIS Alumna writes on Ukraine for Gates Cambridge

last modified Sep 29, 2014 09:39 AM

Professor Svitlana Kobzar, who completed her PhD in International Studies in 2011, has written an article for the latest edition of the Scholar magazine, published by Gates Cambridge Scholars and Alumni.

Titled, "Crisis in Ukraine: A Scholar's inside view on current events", the article is available to read and download through the Gates Cambridge website.

Since leaving POLIS, Professor Kobzar has worked with think-tanks in Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic, before joining RAND as a Research Fellow, and the Institute for European Studies of Vrije Universiteit Brussel as a senior research associate. Professor Kobzar is currently the Head of the Department of International Affairs at Vesalius College.

You can read more about the Polis Alumni network here.

POLIS Alumnus Zafar Ansari makes Test debut

last modified Oct 28, 2016 10:09 AM

POLIS Alumnus Zafar Ansari, who graduated with a BA in Politics, Psychology and Sociology in 2013, is making his Test debut for the English cricket team in their International Test Match Series against Bangladesh. 

Zafar was due to make his England debut in 2015 but was prevented by a dislocated left thumb; an injury he obtained on the same day as his England call up. 

Zafar is a slow left-arm spinner and has been picked alongside two other spinners - Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.

You can follow the live coverage of the Test match via the BBC Sports website

Good luck, Zafar!

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.

POLIS Collection for Jimmy's Night Shelter

last modified Dec 23, 2014 04:40 PM

During the month of December, POLIS staff, students and visitors to the Alison Richard Building collected donations in kind for Jimmy's Night Shelter. 

Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, Jimmy’s Night Shelter is the only emergency accommodation provider in Cambridge, offering a warm, welcoming environment to 20 men and women (and two dogs) who would otherwise be forced to sleep rough or in inappropriate or inadequate conditions.

You can read more about the work of Jimmy's here - 

The collection, organised by Rebecca Burtenshaw (Undergraduate Secretary) called for all sorts of practical items (sleeping bags, clothes) as well as tinned food and toiletries, and by Monday 22nd December there were over 550 separate items ready to be taken over to Jimmy's. This included 39 hats and scarves, 27 pairs of gloves, 80 cans of food and 30 packets of soup. 

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated items and made the collection such a success.

20141222 142334

And a special thank you to Rebecca, for organising the collection and to Jamie, for helping to store and deliver the donations.  


POLIS Gates Cambridge International Scholars 2015-16

last modified Apr 08, 2015 02:55 PM

Following the announcement of the US Scholars, Gates Cambridge have now announced the results for their International Scholarship 2015-16, and six out of the fifty four students selected will be joining POLIS this autumn.

The successful candidates were whittled down from a field of 3,535 applicants. 

Mr Manus McCaffery will be joining the MPhil in Public Policy program; he completed his undergraduate studies at Stanford University before moving to Mongolia to work with the Ambassador at Large of Mongolia. He plans to research methods for bridging the gap between energy politics and environmental sustainability whilst at Cambridge. 

Miss Aliya Khalid will be joining the MPhil in Public Policy program; she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Peshawar and holds a Master's in Public Administration from the Institute of Management Sciences. 

Mr Chiedozie Ibekwe will be joining the MPhil in Public Policy program; he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Mississippi and is currently studying for a Master's in Supply Chain Management at Pennsylvania State University.  

Ms Lauren Power will be joining the MPhil in Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies program; she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Western Australia before going on to work in public policy. She plans to research the potential of online activism to raise consciousness of ongoing gender issues and affect genuine cultural change whilst at Cambridge. 

Miss Sophie Hermanns will be joining the PhD in Politics and International Studies program; she completed her undergraduate studies at Cambridge, before going on to the Hunboldt University of Berlin and Sciences Po, Paris. Whilst at Cambridge she plans to research how can we improve global health most effectively.

Mr Carlos Gonzalez Sierra will be joining the MPhil in Latin American Studies; he completed his undergraduate studies at Amherst College before going on to work as a legislative assistant in Washington, DC. He plans to research transnational political participation and the root causes of inequality in Latin America whilst at Cambridge.

POLIS Gates Cambridge US Scholars 2015-16

last modified Nov 11, 2015 05:46 PM

Gates Cambridge have announced the results for their US Scholarship 2015-16, and five out of the forty students selected will be joining POLIS this autumn.

The successful candidates were whittled down from a field of 755 applicants.  

Miss Karin Bashir will be joining the MPhil in Public Policy program; she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and has studied and worked in Egypt and Bahrain. She is currently working with Syrian refuges in Turkey. 

Ms Jocelyn Perry will be joining the MPhil in International Relations and Politics program; she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania and has travelled and worked throughout Asia and South America. She plans to research post-conflict reconstruction with a focus on Africa’s Great Lakes region whilst at Cambridge. 

Mr George Saba will be joining the MPhil in International Relations and Politics program; he is currently studying at Stanford University, and has worked as a research assistant for Dr. Condoleezza Rice and as a White House Intern for the Obama Administration. During his time in Cambridge, he plans to research gun control policies in countries that have passed major legislation after mass shootings. 

Mr Daniel Barcia will be joining the MPhil in International Relations and Politics program; he is currently studying at Harvard University and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard College Human Rights Review. He plans to focus on economic development and U.S. foreign policy whilst at Cambridge. 

Mr Yusef Al-Jarani will be joining the MPhil in Development Studies program; he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago. 

The postgraduate scholarship programme was established through a US$210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2001, which remains the largest single donation to a UK university.  Competition for places is fierce and the programme is unique in its emphasis on social leadership as well as outstanding academic ability.

POLIS graduate Nivi Manchanda wins 2015 Salje Medal

last modified Jun 27, 2016 02:13 PM

Congratulations to POLIS graduate Nivi Manchanda, who has been awarded the 2015 Salje Medal for the best PhD dissertation in the Arts and Social Sciences by a student at Clare Hall, Cambridge. Her dissertation was on “Imagining Afghanistan: The History and Politics of Imperial Knowledge Production.” Dr Manchanda is now an Assistant Professor of International Studies at Leiden University.

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.

POLIS is now on Tumblr!

last modified Jun 24, 2015 09:25 AM

The Department has a new Tumblr blog! 

Gathering together existing articles, interviews, journal articles, blog posts and more from the academic members of POLIS, we will keep the Tumblr up to date with all the latest output from the Department. 

It is early days yet, but why not take a look to see if you've missed anything recently, and to see what you think - Take me to Tumblr! 

Any feedback is welcome; you can leave a comment on the blog, or drop us an email to  

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.


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 

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.

Prof Marc Weller wins major award for "truly stellar" academic contribution to law.

last modified Sep 25, 2014 03:44 PM

Professor Marc Weller, the Director of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law in the University of Cambridge, last night won the prestigious Halsbury Legal Award for his distinguished academic contribution to law. In their citation for the award, which is considered the ‘Oscar’ of the legal world, the panel of senior independent judges noted that the winner’s contribution to his field was ‘unrivalled—truly stellar’.

Marc Weller is Professor of International Law and International Constitutional Studies in the Department of Politics and International Studies of the University. He joined the faculty of law in 1990 and has served as Director of the Lauterpacht Centre since 2010. He is the author, editor or co-editor of some 25 books on international law, most recently the Oxford University Press Handbook on the Use of Force in International Law. He is an Associate at Doughty Street Chambers in London, a fully qualified Mediator and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. In his practice, he has acted as senior legal advisor in a long list of international peace negotiations, including Kosovo, Darfur, South Sudan, Yemen and Syria. He served as Senior United Nations Mediation Expert and as Director of the European Centre for Minority Issues. At present, he advises on the drafting of the new constitution for Yemen. He is frequently consulted by governments and other entities, and regularly comments on issues of international law in the media.

 Weller Award

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.

Professor David Runciman's Inaugural Lecture now online

last modified Mar 03, 2015 11:29 AM

On Tuesday 24th February 2015, Professor David Runciman, Professor of Politics and Head of the Department of POLIS gave his Inaugural Lecture on Political Theory and Real Politics in the Age of the Internet. 

With the lecture theatre full to the brim, those unable to get a seat inside were nevertheless able to watch the lecture streamed live into the atrium and cafe of the Alison Richard Building. This was thanks to the work of Julian and Steve (the Streaming Media Service), Howard and Steve (the AV team) and Kevin and John (HSPS Helpdesk).

For anyone who missed the lecture, or who would simply like to view it again, below you will find the first ten minutes; to view or download the full lecture, please go here to our Collection on the Streaming Media Service website.  

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.

Professor Geoffrey Hawthorn 1941-2015

last modified Feb 17, 2016 05:44 PM

Geoff Hawthorn, who died in the early hours of New Year’s Eve, was for more than a generation the animating spirit behind the study of politics and social science in Cambridge.  He was there at the beginning of the old SPS and he saw it through to the creation thirty years later of the Department of Politics, which merged with the Centre of International Studies to produce POLIS.  The fact that we ever got here owes an enormous amount to Geoff’s persistence, his good humour under some provocation, and his steady belief in what we could achieve.  These were not easy years and Geoff often bore the brunt of the difficulties of institution-building in an old and slow-moving University, full of conflicting interests and some large egos.  It was politics, in other words, and though Geoff’s appetite for it may sometimes have wavered his sharp eye for both its absurdities and its opportunities never did.  Geoff’s leadership and his vision made POLIS possible and we will always be in his debt.

Geoff’s own work spanned a remarkable range of subjects, from population studies to possible worlds and from East Asian politics to the history of Western political thought.  His history of the development of modern social theory under the complicated and contradictory influence ideas of rationality and progress – Enlightenment and Despair (1976, with a revised edition appearing in 1986) – remains one of the best ever guides to its subject, as well as being one of the best written.  Plausible Worlds (1991) is a founding text of the school of counterfactual history, though much subtler and richer than almost anything that came in its wake. His last book, Thucydides on Politics (2014), was the product of years of deep reflection on the meaning and significance of the founding father of realism in the study of politics.  Geoff’s Thucydides emerges as a much more complicated and more interesting figure than the dry ‘realist’ revered by contemporary IR scholars.  Thucydides was alive to politics in all its variety and all its contingency – a world of high ideals and base motives, endlessly subject to human ingenuity and creativity as well as to hypocrisy and stupidity.   This was realism that left room for imagination as well as calculation.  Above all, it meant being open to the capacity of politics to surprise us.  What was true of Thucydides was true of Geoff as well.

His Thucydides book came out of long conversations – often conducted on bird-watching holidays – with his close friend Jeremy Mynott, the former CEO of Cambridge University Press (where Geoff served as a Syndic for more than twenty-five years).  At the same time Geoff was working on his commentary, Jeremy was working on a new translation of Thucydides’ The War of the Peloponnesians and the Athenians.  The two books came out with CUP within a year of each other and they complement each other beautifully.  Hawthorn and Mynott on Thucydides represents an ideal of the kind of collaborative intellectual endeavour that Geoff valued more than anything: inventive, idiosyncratic, patient, fearless – the best of Cambridge.

Geoff wrote slowly, because he was interested in everything.  He belonged to no school but was willing and able to cast a quizzical, sympathetic, penetrating eye over all of them.  On the page he always came across as a subtle and elegant thinker, asking the most interesting questions even when the answers were hard to come by.  These qualities stood him in good stead over the many years he wrote wonderful essays on all manner of subjects for the London Review of Books: he could be as interested in, and as interesting on, Ayrton Senna as he could on Max Weber.  His wide-ranging sympathy and curiosity, laced with scepticism but illuminated by moments of real passion, came alive in the classroom.  Geoff was a legendary teacher throughout his time in Cambridge and he remained as committed to helping his students think for themselves at the end of a distinguished career as he had been at the beginning. 

When he retired a large book was filled with handwritten testimonials from his students over more than thirty years explaining how Geoff’s teaching had changed their outlooks and in plenty of cases their lives.  Geoff taught across a vast array of subjects – he would teach almost anything, except the nonsense that occasionally attaches itself to social science and for which he had no time.  For many years he taught Thucydides to second-year undergraduates as an entry point into a way of understanding the whole world of politics and its role in human affairs.  His book on Thucydides began here, as did many of his students’ education.  It is a course we have never been able to replace.

Geoff was above all else a lovely man – enormously generous with his time and his intelligence, endlessly kind and open.  His rich, deep laugh made many long meetings just that bit more bearable, and his occasional flashes of impatience brought them to a close just when it was clear they had gone on too long.  He looked out for his colleagues without ever stifling anyone – it would be hard to think of a more tolerant Head of Department, though he was always in control of what we were up to. He helped make POLIS what it is today and none of it will be the same without him.

David Runciman and Helen Thompson


David Lehmann's (Department of Sociology) tribute to Geoff can be found here. 


Professor Jason Sharman, the new Sir Patrick Sheehy Professor of International Relations

last modified Jan 09, 2017 01:29 PM

Professor Jason Sharman is the new Sir Patrick Sheehy Professor of International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Studies at Cambridge, succeeding Prof Christopher Hill who retired in September 2016.

Jason received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1999, and his undergraduate degree in history and politics from the University of Western Australia. Previously, Sharman worked at American University in Bulgaria, the University of Sydney and Griffith University, and he has spent shorter periods as a visitor at St Petersburg State University, Columbia University and the London School of Economics.

He will be teaching on the second year undergraduate paper POL3: International Organisation and the MPhil in Public Policy. Jason’s recent publications include International Order in Diversity: War, Trade and Rule in the Indian Ocean (2015) which won the 2016 Jervis-Schroeder Award and the 2017 Francesco Guicciardini Prize, and his next book The Despot’s Guide to Wealth Management: On the International Campaign against Grand Corruption is due for publication in March 2017. 

Professor John Loughlin, Affiliated Lecturer in POLIS and Director of the Von Hugel Institute and a Fellow of St Edmund's College, has been elected a Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts

last modified Aug 22, 2013 11:50 AM

The European Academy of Sciences and Arts was founded in 1990 by Prof. Felix Unger, Cardinal Franz König and Prof. Nikolaus Lobkowicz. The Academy focuses on interdisciplinary discussion across specialist areas, ideologies and scientific cultures as well as promoting transnational dialogue and visionary developments of new scientific knowledge and academic thinking. As an “independent knowledge pool”, the Academy aims “to debate and work on contemporary topics across disciplinary and national borders, for the good of those living and working in Europe”. The uniqueness of the Academy of Sciences and Arts lies in its ability to work across boundaries for the aesthetics of science. The European Academy of Sciences and Arts now brings together over 1200 scientists and researchers, philosophers and artists from Europe, Asia and the USA, including 25 Nobel Prize winners. This has resulted in a networked ‘think tank’ on ethical and scientific values in a society that is increasingly fragmented. The European Academy of Sciences and Arts, based in Salzburg, focuses on three core areas, namely developing knowledge, disseminating scientific information and implementing major multi-national projects.

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.


Professor Lawrence Hamilton awarded NRF/British Academy SA-UK Bilateral Research Chair

last modified Sep 12, 2016 04:28 PM

In February 2016 Professor Lawrence Hamilton was awarded an NRF/British Academy SA-UK Bilateral Research Chair in Political Theory (the only one in the humanities, see award ceremony, 4 May 2016).

The condition of this Chair is that he spend 6 months a year in the Department of Political Studies, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), South Africa and 6 months a year in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), Cambridge, UK, building research networks in political theory between the two institutions.

The Chair has four central purposes: to enable the two institutions to build on their excellence in political theory through a vigorous exchange of ideas from the perspectives of two very different contexts; to use this collaboration to increase the prominence and promise of political theory in South Africa, transforming both the discipline and showing how the growth of political theory in South Africa is central to its transformation agenda; to build a vibrant exchange programme for graduate students and colleagues between the two institutions; and for Lawrence to supervise graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at both institutions.

The Chair will enable growth in the number of graduate students and research fellows researching in political theory by offering scholarships at various levels. Over time the Chair intends to expand the exchange programme to include the London School of Economics, the School of Oriental and African Studies, Queen Mary University of London, New York University, University of Helsinki, University of the Western Cape and the University of Cape Town.

In terms of his own research and graduate teaching, Professor Hamilton offers a novel approach to political theory. His research interests include topics in contemporary political theory, such as states, power, representation, freedom, needs, rights, resistance, democracy, markets and political judgement, as informed by real world politics, particularly in the global South, the history of political thought, and South African politics, political economy and intellectual history.

He welcomes interested PhD students (or prospective PhD candidates) in Cambridge for supervision on any of these or related topics or thinkers. Notices will soon also be posted regarding the exchange programme. Please feel free to contact Lawrence on to find out more about supervision or the exchange programme.

Lawrence has taught and researched at 4 universities on 3 continents and currently, at Wits, is supervising 8 PhD students and 2 postdoctoral fellows. He is the author of several books including The Political Philosophy of Needs (Cambridge University Press 2003); Are South Africans Free? (Bloomsbury 2014); and Freedom is Power: Liberty Through Political Representation (Cambridge University Press 2014). He is a Life Member of Clare Hall and an elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). He is editor-in-chief of Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory, and has received more than ten awards for research excellence, including this Research Chair, a TOFAC Award (2014), an NRF President’s Award (2007-11) and the Gladstone Memorial Prize (1996). For more, see his CV at the Association for Political Theory in Africa (APTA), which he co-founded and co-directs.

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.


Profiles of POLIS Gates Cambridge Scholars

last modified Mar 02, 2017 12:10 PM

Gates CambridgeSagnik Dutta is a PhD in Politics and International Studies student whose research focuses on the relationship between Muslim rights and the Indian constitution.

Sagnik Dutta has long been interested in the interaction between minority rights and the law, having spent several years working as a journalist in India covering the Supreme Court and the Muslim women’s reform movement. His PhD, which he began last autumn, looks at the relationship between religion and constitutionalism in the context of Muslim personal law reform in India. Based on an analysis of the judgments of the Supreme Court and an ethnographic study of sharia courts run by women in Mumbai, he will be examining the complex interplay between religion and a liberal ‘rights’ regime.

For the full article about Sagnik and his research, click this link:


Sharmila Parmanand is a PhD in Multidisciplinary Gender Studies student whose research builds on her policy work on countering trafficking in human beings.

What makes for an effective policy to counter trafficking in human beings? Sharmila Parmanand’s research will examine the current anti-trafficking ecosystem. It’s an area she knows well having worked at the Philippines’ leading anti-trafficking organisation as Head of Policy for several years.

She is particularly interested in the policy-making process, but also the knowledge claims made about victims and women in vulnerable employment situations and how these claims are negotiated and produced, the relationships among international funders, the state, and civil society actors, and the effects on women of measures such as raids and rescue operations and rehabilitation.

For the full article about Sharmila and her research,  click this link:


If you would like to see the Gates US Scholars joining us in 2017, click this link:

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.

Revolution by Russell Brand review by Professor David Runciman

last modified Oct 17, 2014 04:31 PM

"Soft-soap therapy when we need a harder edge."

Read the rest of Professor David Runciman's review of Russell Brand's new book, Revolution, due for release on the 23rd of October here

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.



Seminar: 'Qatari Foreign Policy: Reorientation or Adjustment to the Rhythm?'

last modified Nov 05, 2014 09:43 AM

CIRMENA Visiting Fellow Dr. Jamal Abdullah

Head of Gulf Studies Research at al-Jazeera Centre for Studies in Doha

1-2 pm, 7 November, 2014

ARB, Room 119

Abstract  Qatar’s foreign policy has undergone shifts in reaction to regional geopolitical developments. Though Qatari foreign policy was characterized by neutrality and mediation during the first decade of this millennium; it changed direction after the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ began, becoming more interventionist by showing support for Arab populations who were rebelling against authoritarian regimes and demanding greater freedom, dignity and the right to self-determination. But changes in the region since Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani came to power in mid-2013 have once again reshaped the geopolitical landscape and regional power balances. These include the ousting of Egyptian President-elect Mohamed Morsi, the escalating tensions and conflicts in Libya, the expansion of the Islamic State (ISIL) in the region and its seizure of large areas in both Syria and Iraq, the Al-Houthi control of major state departments in Yemen, and the recent Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip. All of these events have impacted Qatari foreign policy as it deals with ongoing developments at the regional and international levels. In reactivating its mediation role, at which Doha excelled during the first decade of the millennium, and utilizing soft power tools while also maintaining its commitments within international alliances to counter threats against Qatar’s national security and regional security, Qatar’s foreign policy has entered a new phase of wielding ‘smart power’, as characterized by Jospeh Nye.


Bio: Dr. Jamal Abdullah is Researcher and Head of the Gulf Studies Unit at Al Jazeera

Center for Studies in Doha. He holds a Ph.D in International Relations Law from Avignon University in France, and  Masters degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from Jean Moulin University in France. He obtained two Master degrees from Lumière University, France; one in Political Sociology and another in Political Science. He is the author of  “Qatar’s Foreign Policy1995 – 2013: Leverages and Strategies” published in May 2014. Dr. Abdullah has been a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge, since September 2014, and a Visiting Lecturer at the NATO Defense College in Rome since September 2012.

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."


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"

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

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.

Thanks and farewell

last modified Jul 24, 2017 10:05 AM

As we reach the very end of the 2015/2016 academic year, we have some people to thank for their input to the Department over the past year and, in some cases, for a lot longer.

IMG 2733   Copy

Professor Christopher Hill, Sir Patrick Sheehy Professor of International Relations

Professor Hill joined the University in 2004, first as Director of the Centre for International Studies (CIS). He later became Head of Department of the newly merged POLIS, serving between 2012 and 2014. In his final year Chris has taught the large Part I International Relations paper, an MPhil course on Foreign Policy Analysis and has carried an heroic administrative load as one of the senior members of the Department.

Professor Hill gave his valedictory lecture in May 2016: ‘What’s left of the international?’ He retires on 30th September 2016 but we hope to see him around the Department for many years to come.


Professor David Howarth’s secondment as Director of the MPhil in Public Policy (MPP) comes to an end this year and he returns to the Department of Land Economy to enjoy a year’s sabbatical. Prof Howarth created and oversaw the first three years of the MPP in POLIS.

Dr Nikitas Konstantinidis leaves us after three years as a temporary lecturer to take up a tenure-track post in Spain. 

Dr Lior Erez departs for Italy after two years as a Teaching Associate in POLIS, giving numerous supervisions to undergraduates taking the second-year international relations paper.

Dr Payam Ghalehdar has spent the past year teaching US Foreign Policy: History and Theory to our MPhil students and is returning to life as a postdoc in Germany.

Dr Julian Huppert’s secondment to the Department has also come to an end and he returns to the Department of Physics. Dr Huppert has just been re-selected by the Liberal Democrats to stand for election as MP for Cambridge in the next election.

Dr Nazia Mintz Habib has been lecturing on the MPP over the past two years as well as undertaking research on development and policy.

We also say goodbye to two Leverhulme Early Career Fellows, Dr Alexander Anievas and Dr Josip Glaurdic.

We wish all our colleagues well as they move on from POLIS: thank you for everything and all the best for the future.

The 2016 Antcliffe Lecture with Tristram Hunt MP

last modified May 05, 2016 01:43 PM

Pragmatism versus Populism: Building a winning Labour Project in the age of anti-politics

Tristram Hunt is Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central. From October 2013 until September 2015, Tristram served as Labour's Shadow Education Secretary focusing on developing Labour's policy on teachers' professional development, vocational education and early years education.

Speaking in the aftermath of the General Election results, he called on Labour's ruling National Executive Committee "not to rush our election", saying there was time for a "brutal post-mortem" about Labour's "underlying philosophy and thinking".

The Antcliffe Lecture was established following a donation in the name of John Antcliffe, who studied History at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, before going on to become a respected public relations professional. You can read more about John Antcliffe, who passed away in March 2010, here.

The lecture took place on Thursday 28th April in the Winstanley Lecture Theatre at Trinity College and the recording can be viewed below. 


The Alcuin Lecture 2013 (‘Is there a future for the European Union – and with Britain in it?’)

last modified Oct 01, 2013 03:17 PM

The Alcuin Lecture 2013 (‘Is there a future for the European Union – and with Britain in it?’) will be delivered by Professor Loukas Tsoukalis, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration at the University of Athens and President of ELIAMEP.

Time: 5:00pm
Date: Thursday 17th October
Venue: Riley Auditorium, Clare College
A reception for all attendees follows the lecture
All welcome

The Alcuin Lecture 2015 - Friday 5 June

last modified Jun 08, 2015 05:18 PM
'Our infinite Scotland small?' Choosing worlds to join.

The 2015 Alcuin Lecture was given by Neal Ascherson, a Scottish historian and journalist who currently writes for the Guardian, on the historical connections between Scotland and Europe, how they can be exploited in the present context, and the importance of re-establishing an active and distinct 'European identity' for Scotland in the next few years. 

Named after Alcuin of York, a teacher, theologian, and poet who advised the Emperor Charlemagne, this annual lecture hosted by the Department of Politics and International Relations is given on a topic concerning the UK and Europe.

The lecture took place on Friday 5 June between 5/6pm, followed by a reception in the atrium of the Alison Richard Building.

A video of the lecture will soon be available to view and download. 

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

The final pre-election ELECTION podcast, and some thoughts from the series

last modified May 06, 2015 09:52 AM

Episode 13, available later this afternoon, will be the final pre-election ELECTION podcast. During the episode the panel will take a look back over their predictions and expectations for the campaign, and see how they compared with the reality of the last thirteen weeks.

The series has featured a wide range of guests, and below are some of their thoughts about the election, from a variety of perspectives. 


Maurice GlasmanLord Maurice Glasman, one of the architects of the movement known as Blue Labour and the first guest had a pretty clear view about what he thinks is going to happen on Thursday 7 May –

I think the first thing we’ve got to say about the election is that no-one’s going to win, the consensus is yet to be fully forged and put to the people…I think that there will be another election within 18 months and that’s going to be the important election, I think this election won’t resolve, so let’s keep our eyes focused on two years down the road.

Martin JacquesMartin Jacques, one time editor of Marxism Today and now one of the leading Western commentators on China featured in episode three and discussed the reasons for the “palpable” discontent amongst the British electorate –

…People are discontented because you know if you ask them will your children enjoy a better standard of living than you, people in the great majority now think that their children will be worse off when they grow up than they have been. (Whereas in China)…the living standards are doubling…so they are filled with optimism and we are filled with pessimism. So I think there is a sense in which the system we have got...isn't delivering any more and there’s a general loss of faith in the system and its institutions and in the governing elites...Now I don’t know where this is going to lead but it’s clearly true.

John Naughton

John Naughton, chronicler of the Internet from its early days and the author of the book From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What you really need to know about the Internet featured in episode four and was asked whether he thought that Facebook might actually decide this election –

Yes, in this particular case, in some seats it might be quite critical. But what would make it really critical I think is if Facebook were able to encourage more younger voters to turn out, because that could have a significant impact on the coming election. In the last election I think only 51% of young people voted…but if Facebook did use the same technique as they use in the US, which is to put on some people’s pages an ‘I Voted’ button and have say pictures of 6 of their friends who had also announced that they had voted, that’s what had an impact in the United States, and who knows that might have an impact here, and if the impact were on younger people I think it be might significant. 

Clare JacksonAnd Clare Jackson, historian and television presenter gave her perspective on the future of the union between Scotland and England if the SNP became the lynch-pin of the next government –

I think it’s interesting how notions of coalition have become more mainstream than they were. You know the first past the post system doesn't usually result in coalitions and just as the PR system in Edinburgh wasn't meant to produce a single party government…(but) it did, and both sides are now getting used to political novelties and I think one of the interesting things is how fast politics is changing and how fast people’s identities and allegiances can shift. So, I think it’s really an interesting time, the last election and presumably the next one showed there was quite a lot of unknown unknowns…If you’re being optimistic, this is a time for opportunity.

Keep an eye out for Episode 13 later on today to hear the panel's final thoughts before the election. And remember to come back next week for the last episode of the current series of ELECTION - though they'll be back next year for series two on the US Presidential Election. So watch this space!    

Third episode of ELECTION - The Cambridge Politics Podcast

last modified Feb 25, 2015 02:02 PM

Led by Professor David Runciman, together with Dr Helen Thompson, Dr Finbarr Livesey and Dr Christopher Brooke, and featuring a guest speaker each week, ELECTION is the new weekly politics podcast. 

Episodes one and two featured Lord (Maurice) Glasman - Labour peer, academic, and architect of ‘Blue Labour’ - and Lord (Martin) Rees – cosmologist, Astronomer Royal, and former President of the Royal Society. 


Episode three, which is now available, features Martin Jacques – journalist, academic, and author of the bestseller When China Rules the World - and the panel discussing the Dispatches "cash for access" scandal, and much more. 

ELECTION - The Cambridge Politics Podcast

Professor Helen Thompson wins the Crick Prize

last modified Jul 16, 2018 12:55 PM

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


Towards a new research centre at POLIS: the Centre of Geopolitics and Grand Strategy

last modified May 07, 2015 01:17 PM

In late 2014, Professor Brendan Simms convened a Forum on Geopolitics at POLIS. The Forum is a first step towards the establishment of a Centre of Geopolitics and Grand Strategy (CoGGS), a new interdisciplinary Centre for the study of grand strategy and statecraft at the University of Cambridge; and their new website is now live

The aim of CoGGS is to provide rigorous training in international affairs, military history, and geo-strategic thinking and to develop world-class strategic thinkers and decision-makers who understand how to calculate risk and recognise opportunity within the appropriate historical and contextual perspectives. 

Once fully established, the CoGGS will represent a seventh research centre within POLIS, alongside the Centre of Governance and Human Rights, the Centre for Rising Powers, the Centre of International Studies, the Cambridge Centre of Political Thought, the Centre for the Study of the International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa, and the European Centre @ POLIS. 

If you are interested in supporting the development of the Centre of Geopolitics and Grand Strategy, please contact , Development Coordinator.

And for details of upcoming Forum events, please go here.

POLIS Undergraduate Prize Winners Announced

last modified Jul 01, 2016 03:34 PM

Our undergraduates have now completed their end of year assessments and prizes have been duly awarded.

The John Dunn Prize for the best dissertation by a final year student has been awarded to Eleni Courea (King’s College), whose dissertation “Society, government and political obligation: The role of war in the political thought of David Hume and Adam Ferguson” was the stand-out work submitted this year. In the dissertation, Eleni showed the different ways in which Hume and Ferguson up-ended Hobbesian premises about the role of war in the formation of society.

For the first time, the Schmidt Prize, for the best long essay by a second year student, has been jointly awarded to two students: Addye Susnick (Newnham College) and James Riseley (Trinity College). Addye wrote on whether can be local solutions to environmental problems, drawing upon her earlier work on water scarcity in Peru. James wrote on why relational inequalities matter more than luck inequalities. Our prize panel considered both to be excellent pieces of work, and were unable to decide between them. Therefore it was decided to award both students the prize.

The Geoffrey Hawthorn Prize for the highest average in papers POL1 and POL2 is awarded to Alex Paturel (Jesus College).

Congratulations to Eleni, Addye, James and Alex, and to all undergraduate students on their hard work this year.

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.

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.


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.

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. 




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

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.