Our research divisions

As one of the largest departments in Europe we have researchers working in many areas of political science research. Our research focuses on central themes which provide a structure to our divisions:

Parties, elections, public opinion and political behaviour

The division conducts research on party positions, electoral strategies, political preferences and public opinion, and political behaviour. We are one of the leading departments in research on the UK’s party system and elections – the British election study was located at Essex between 2002 and 2012.

We also study the mutual influences between parties and voters and the conditions that shape these influences, partisan strategies in proportional electoral systems, the influence of public opinion on the decision to intervene into the Syria conflict, and so on.

  • Dr John Bartle


    Research interests

    • Voting behaviour
    • British political parties
    • The British Judiciary

  • Professor Lawrence Ezrow


    Research interests

    • Comparative political representation
    • Western European politics
    • Elections, political parties, voting, party strategies, political institutions
    • Quantitative methodologies

    Lawrence Ezrow is the author of Linking Citizens and Parties: How Electoral Systems Matter for Political Representation (Oxford University Press, 2010). He has published articles in the American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Politics, World Politics, and other ISI indexed peer-reviewed journals. He has held a research grant from the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and he received the Best Article Award, with James Adams and Zeynep Somer-Topcu, for the best article appearing in the American Journal of Political Science in 2011 (for their paper "Is Anybody Listening? Evidence That Voters Do Not Respond to European Parties' Policy Statements During Elections").

  • Dr Rob Johns


    Research interests

    • Political (and specifically electoral) behaviour
    • Public opinion and political psychology (especially the nature, structure and impact of attitudes)
    • Research methods and survey methodology

    Rob Johns's research and teaching is about public opinion. In particular, Rob applies insights from psychology to understand what people think and feel about politics, and to improve survey measurement of those political attitudes. Within this broad focus, Rob has addressed diverse questions in diverse contexts: Why do extreme right voters feel more European than the average European citizen? Do people care about civilian as well as military casualties in war? How do voters decide whether the government is responsible for policy outcomes? Why are men disproportionately likely to favour Scottish independence?

    Research addressing these and other questions has been published in books and in leading political science journals. Reflecting his interest in public opinion, Rob has taught general and more specialized courses in the design and analysis of surveys, including a course at the Essex Summer School. John Bartle is a Reader in the Department of Government at the University of Essex. His research interest lie in the fields of voting behaviour, public opinion, political representation and political parties. He has authored articles in the British Journal of Political Science, Electoral Studies, Party Politics, Political Studies and the Journal of Elections Public Opinion and Parliamentary Affairs. He was a British Academy Post-doctoral Fellow 1997-2000 and has held research grants from the UK Economic and Social Research Council.

  • Dr Tom Quinn


    Research interests

    • Executive-legislative relations in Westminster-type systems
    • British political parties
    • Political party organisation
    • Political institutions
    • Rational choice theory
    • British politics

  • Professor David Sanders


    Research interests

    • British Election Study
    • Political participation
    • Election forecasting
    • Politics of UK public sector
    • Measuring and assessing European citizenship

    David Sanders applies empirical methods to a range of problems in political science, focusing particularly on elections and the evolution of public opinion across Europe. His more than 100 journal articles and book chapters and 8 books span comparative politics, UK politics, international relations and foreign policy. His work on opinion polling has helped to legimitise the use of internet polling methods in the UK. He has advised political parties of both the centre-right and the centre-left (though not simultaneously) on strategies for improving their electoral performance. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and is currently chair of its Politics and International Relations Section.

  • Professor Paul Whiteley


    Government "Magic numbers" - Professor Paul Whiteley from University of Essex on Vimeo.

    Research interests

    • British Election Study
    • British political parties
    • Electoral behaviour
    • Political economy
    • Comparative analysis of citizenship and social capital

    Paul currently serves as the Director of the National Evaluation of Policy Monitor and also the Essex Centre for the Study of Integrity. His research interests include electoral behaviour, public opinion, political parties, political economy, and methodology in the social sciences. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences. He has held previous appointments at the Universities of Sheffield, Bristol, Arizona and the College of William and Mary in Virginia. He is the author or co-author of eighteen academic books including studies of electoral behaviour in Britain, the grassroots Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democratic parties, and citizenship in Britain. He has published more than 110 academic journal articles.

    His research has influenced the organisational structure and campaign activities of the major political parties in Britain, and his work on citizenship has influenced government policies about the content of the curriculum on citizenship education in secondary schools. He was director of the Economic and Social Research Council Research Programme on Democracy and Participation from 1998-2003 and was the co-director of the British Election Study from 2001 to 2012. He has acted as an academic advisor to the Home Office, to the Department of Education and to the Speaker of the House of Commons on issue relating to citizenship, participation and Parliamentary representation. He is a regular contributor to politics programmes on television and radio and has written numerous columns for newspapers such as the Guardian and the Independent.

International politics and conflict resolution

The division focuses on international relations, spanning topics from conflict, peace, and security to international political economy. A distinctive feature of our orientation is an emphasis on the commonalities between all forms of politics, whether within states or between states, and the interrelationship between international relations and domestic politics and institutions.

For example, we analyse foreign policy decision making, multilateral military cooperation, conflict resolution techniques such as mediation and international peacekeeping, civil wars, failed states, and terrorism, international development, international security and international political economy.

  • Dr Phil Arena


    Research interests

    • Conflict Processes
    • Domestic Politics and International Relations
    • Formal Theory
    • International Cooperation
    • Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models
  • Dr Tobias Böhmelt


    Tobias is a Lecturer in the Department and a Research Associate of the International Political Economy Group at the Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS) as well as the Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED). His main research and teaching interests are the quantitative analysis of conflict and cooperation, environmental politics, international mediation, military effectiveness, and social network analysis.

  • Dr Daina Chiba


    Daina is a Lecturer in the Department. A graduate of Rice University, he completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University. His research interests encompass the areas of militarised conflict, international institutions, and political methodology. His work has appeared or will appear shortly in the American Journal of Political Science and the Journal of Conflict Resolution.

  • Professor Han Dorussen


    Research interests

    • EU-Japan security relations
    • Trade and conflict
    • Peacekeeping
    • Burden-sharing and regional security
    • Policy convergence in the European Union

    Han Dorussen currently serves as the Division Director of International Relations and as the Acting Head of Department. He is associate editor for the Journal of Peace Research. Dorussen conducts theoretical and empirical research in international relations, conflict resolution and international and comparative political economy.

    Dorussen has (co-)authored more than 30 articles on the relationship between trade and conflict, the use of economic policies in international politics, peacekeeping operations and the governance of post-conflict societies, and policy convergence and burden sharing in the European Union. The articles were published in Public Choice, International Organization, World Politics, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Conflict Resolution, a.o. He has also co-edited a book on Economic Voting (Routledge 2002).

    Dorussen is a member of the working groups on peacekeeping and security sector reform of the Folke Bernadotte Academcy, Sweden. He has participated in a number of EU Framework programmes and is currently the Essex lead person in the EU-JAMM project stimulating education exchange between Europe and Japan.

  • Dr Natasha Ezrow


    Research interests

    • US foreign policy
    • Traditional theories of international relations
    • Democratisation
    • East Asia
    • Latin America

    Natasha Ezrow (Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara, 2002) is a Senior Lecturer in the Department. She teaches courses in Middle East Politics, African Politics, International Development, International Relations and Latin American Politics. She has been teaching at for over ten years and has taught in the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

    In addition to teaching, she also coordinated the United Nations (UN) International Student Conferences in Amsterdam, the largest Model UN Conferences in the Netherlands for several years and currently coordinates the annual Student Political Science Conference at the University of Essex.

    Dr Ezrow specializes in authoritarian politics, corruption and institutional decay, with a focus on the politics of the Asia, the Middle East and Africa. She recently has co-authored several books on dictatorships and failed states and has a forthcoming book on development.

    • Dr Anna Getmansky


      Research Interests

      • Quantitative analysis of conflict and cooperation
      • Intrastate Conflicts
      • Democracy and War

      The main focus of Anna Getmansky's research is understanding the sources, management, and consequences of intrastate and interstate conflicts. In particular, she is interested in the relationship between domestic political institutions and conflict. She has studied these topics cross-nationally, as well as in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Recently, she has been working on these issues also in the context of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

      Her secondary area of interest in nuclear cooperation, and especially the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Anna Getmansky's research is published in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Conflict Resolution and the Journal of Territorial and Maritime Studies.

    • Professor Ismene Gizelis


      Research interests

      • International conflict and cooperation
      • Peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction
      • Gender and conflict resolution
      • Comparative political economy

      Theodora-Ismene Gizelis is the author of Globalization, Integration, and the Future of European Welfare States (Manchester University Press, 2010) and articles in Journal of Conflict Resolution, Social Science and Medicine, Journal of Peace Research, Political Geography, International Interactions, Journal of Economic Development and Cultural Change, and Conflict and Cooperation.

      She was the guest co-editor (together with Louise Olsson) of International Interactions (2013) on "A Systematic Understanding of Gender, Peace and Security – Implementing UNSCR 1325."

    • Professor Kristian Skrede Gleditsch


      Research interests

      • Conflict and cooperation
      • Democratisation
      • Spatial dimensions of social and political processes
      • Mathematical models in the social sciences

      Kristian Skrede Gleditsch is Professor in the Department and a research associate of the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO). His research interest includes violent and nonviolent conflict, democratization, and spatial dimensions of social and political processes. He is the author of All International Politics is Local: The Diffusion of Conflict, Integration, and Democratization (University of Michigan Press, 2002), Spatial Regression Models (Sage, 2008, with Michael D. Ward), Inequality, Grievances, and Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2013, with Lars-Erik Cederman and Halvard Buhaug), and over 40 journal articles in ISI indexed peer-reviewed journals.

      He is the winner of the 2012 American Political Science Association's Heinz I. Eulau Award, the 2007 International Studies Association's Karl Deutsch Award, and the 2000 American Political Science Association's Helen Dwight Reid Award. He has held research grants from the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the European Science Foundation, the European Research Council, the Research Council of Norway, and the US National Science Foundation.

    • Professor Emil Kirchner


      Research interests

      • EU-Japan security relations
      • European integration
      • European security policy
      • EU decision making
      • German politics
      • Political parties and European integration

    International and comparative political economics

    The division is primarily interested in political institutions and how they determine public policies and political outcomes. For instance, we are interested in the institutional determinants of policy learning, the influence of social welfare benefits on the political response to tax competition, the partisan influence on 'green taxes', or the relevance of political institutions for mortality during and after natural disasters.

    We approach political economy from an empirical perspective. We place an emphasis on the understanding of the causes and consequences of political processes and outcomes.

    • Dr Simone Dietrich


      Simone Dietrich is Senior Lecturer in the Department, and Director of ESSExLab. Her research interests are in International and Comparative Political Economy, as well as Democratization and Development.

      Simone’s research is motivated by a number of substantive questions. What makes foreign aid effective at helping countries develop? How does foreign aid affect citizen attitudes in aid-receiving countries? Under what conditions does foreign aid shape democratic change abroad? Why do rich countries differ markedly in their foreign aid delivery strategies abroad?

      Her approach to studying these questions is based on a multi-methods approach. I employ cross-country time series analysis, individual-level survey data, and field and survey experiments. I also rely on insights generated by case study analysis and extensive, open-ended interviews with foreign aid elites and aid beneficiaries.

      Simone’s research is published or forthcoming in International Organization, Journal of Politics, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Experimental Social Science, World Development, European Journal of Development Research, and Oxford University Press.

      Prior to joining Essex, Simone was Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri, where she also held an appointment at the Truman School of Public Affairs. Before arriving in Missouri, she was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science at Pennsylvania State University in 2011.

    • Dr Alejandro Quiroz Flores


      Research interests

      • International security
      • War initiation and duration
      • Links to domestic politics
      • Survival analysis and copula functions
      • Natural disasters

      Alejandro Quiroz Flores is Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the Department and manager of the Department's Comparative Politics Division. He specializes in Political Economy and Political Methodology. His research concentrates on the political effects of natural disasters, as well as political survival. His work has appeared at the British Journal of Political Science, International Studies Quarterly, Economics and Politics, Conflict Management and Peace Science, and Foreign Policy Analysis. He has also contributed articles to Foreign Affairs on natural disasters and disaster aid.

    • Dr Marius Radean


      Dr Radean is a Lecturer in the Department. His research interests include democratic regime stability, democratic processes and representation, electoral systems and political parties, and political methodology. His work has been published in the Journal of Politics. He teaches classes on current threats to democracy.

      The topics covered range from ideological alternatives to democratic forms of government, such as authoritarianism with its variety of regimes and institutions, to common political practices in democracy, such as corruption and party switching. The latter sap democracy from within by undermining government performance and eroding public trust in democratic institutions.

    • Dr Gina Reinhardt


      Research Interests

      • International Development
      • Disaster Mitigation and Management
      • Trust and Uncertainty
      • Policy Evaluation
      • Organizational Management

      Dr Gina Yannitell Reinhardt came to Essex from the Bush School of Government at Texas A and M University in 2015. She earned her undergraduate degree in international studies at Rhodes College and her master’s and doctorate in political science at Washington University in St. Louis (2005). Reinhardt also studied Japanese language, culture, and literature at Kansai Gaidai in Hirakata, Japan.

      The overarching questions driving Gina’s research relate to how people make decisions with incomplete, imperfect, or asymmetric information, and how those decisions affect the distribution of wealth in society. These questions have led her to a range of research topics, including the political economy of foreign aid, economic and social development, and the political and policy implications of disasters. Dr Reinhardt has also studied race, trust, and migration; the construction of trust by the media across levels of government; and how the allocation of foreign aid conditions its performance effectiveness.

      Reinhardt is a member of the prestigious AidData Research Consortium (ARC) and a recipient of funding from the American Association of University Women and the US National Science Foundation. Fluent in Portuguese, she has conducted research around the world, including Japan, Nicaragua, Portugal, Spain, and Brazil. In 2011, Reinhardt received the Bush School’s Silver Star Award for Outstanding Dedication and Teaching. Her work has been published in Political Analysis, World Development, Journal of Theoretical Politics, PS: Political Science and Politics, and Legislative Studies Quarterly.

    • Professor Jonathan Slapin


      Research Interests

      • Comparative Political Institutions
      • Parties and legislatures
      • Research Methods and Quantitative Content Analysis
      • European Politics and European Integration

      Professor Slapin's research and teaching explore how electoral and legislative institutions affect party politics, political competition, and representation in democracies. In particular, his work focuses on European politics and integration. He has published numerous articles in the discipline’s leading journals and he has authored two books.

      His most recent book, "The Politics of Parliamentary Debate: Parties, Rebels and Representation", was published by Cambridge University Press. He also serves on the editorial board of three international journals focusing on European politics and legislative institutions. He regularly teaches courses on European politics, European integration, and research methods, including a course on quantitative content analysis at the Essex Summer School.

    • Professor Hugh Ward


      Research interests

      • Comparative and international environmental politics
      • International conflict
      • Political economy

      Hugh has published 50 single and co-authored articles in refereed journals, has edited a volume of inter-disciplinary studies of sustainability, and published numerous single and co-authored chapters in edited volumes. He is Co-Editor of the British Journal of Political Science. Currently he is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Theoretical Politics, Political Studies, Environmental Politics, and Global Environmental Politics.

    Political theory and discourse

    The division combines research in ideology and discourse analysis and analytic political theory. The research areas and expertise of political theory staff cover a vast array of topics, ranging from the history of political thought to normative policy analysis, from discourse theory to normative social choice theory.

    For instance, we are interest in whether disgorging the benefits of historical wrongdoing is an attractive strategy, the relevance of inscription for democratic theory and practice, the ethics of childcare benefits and subsidies, and the consequences of volcanic activity on the risk assessment of air transportation.

    • Dr Paul Bou-Habib (on research leave until Autumn 2017)


      Paul is a Lecturer in Political Theory in the Department. His research interests are mainly focused on contemporary theories of social justice. These interests include the normative evaluation of economic regimes, as well as more specific issues, such as the relationship between the institution of the family and equality of opportunity.

      He has published articles in the Journal of Political Philosophy, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and many other journals. He has held research grants from the British Academy, The Leverhulme Trust, and the Society for Applied Philosophy.

    • Dr James Christensen


      Research interests

      • Analytical Political Theory

      James is a Lecturer in Political Theory. His research interests lie in the field of analytical political theory. He is especially interested in debates about global justice, and his most recent work addresses normative questions regarding international trade. He has published in a number of peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Political Philosophy and Social Theory and Practice.

      James teaches courses on ethics and public policy, human rights, and global justice. Prior to joining the Department of Government, he st udied and taught political theory at the University of Oxford.

    • Professor Michael Freeman (Emeritus Professor)


      Research interests

      • The theory and practice of human rights, especially world poverty as a problem of human rights and global justice

      Michael Freeman is a Research Professor and part-time lecturer. He has published or edited books on Edmund Burke, contemporary political theory, minority rights and human rights. His latest book is Human Rights: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Polity Press, second edition, 2011).

      He has published more than 60 papers on a wide range of topics in political theory and human rights, and lectured in more than 20 countries, from Japan and China to Brazil and Mexico, from Sweden to South Africa.

      He is a former Chair of the Human Rights Research Committee of the International Political Science Association and of the Council of the British Section of Amnesty International. He is currently a member of the Board of Overseers, Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut.

    • Dr Jason Glynos (on Research Leave 2016/2017)


      Research interests

      • Political philosophy
      • Post-structural approaches
      • Lacanian and post-Marxist discourse theories
      • Theories of democracy and ideology
      • Cultures and discourses of the economy

      Jason teaches political theory in the Department and his research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and books. He is Associate Editor of Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, and International Advisory Board Member of Subjectivity.

      His theoretical work focuses on drawing out the implications of poststructuralist, post-marxist, discourse analytic, and psychoanalytic thought for key debates around freedom, democracy, political economy, and ideology. His theoretical and empirical research, including the development with David Howarth of a 'logics approach' to the philosophy and methodology of social sciences, has been invoked in projects in a wide range of policy and practice-based domains.

    • Professor David Howarth


      Research interests

      • Post-structuralist political theory
      • Social movements
      • Identity politics
      • South African politics

      David is a Reader in Social and Political Theory in the Department. He develops and applies various interpretative approaches, particularly in the fields of poststructuralist discourse theory and analysis, to a variety of problematized social phenomena. Such research strategies and qualitative methods are directed at the study of public policy (especially aviation policy in the UK and Europe), social movements and groups (especially in the environmental field), as well as a series of conceptual and normative queries that are disclosed in this research. Amongst the latter are questions about democracy, freedom, power, and the politics of identity/difference.

      He has published nine books (four research monographs and 5 co-edited volumes), 24 journal articles and more than 40 contributions in edited volumes, handbooks and dictionaries. His books include Logics of Critical Explanation in Social and Political Theory (2007), Poststructuralism and After (2013), and The Politics of Airport Expansion in the UK (2013).

      In 2009 he was awarded a Hinkley Professorship to teach and conduct research at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and he has taught courses and presented addresses at universities in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, the UK and the USA.

    • Dr Laura Montanaro


      • Dr Laura Montanaro staff profile
      • Laura Montanaro is a Lecturer in Political Theory. She is working on democratic theory in the area of non-electoral representation. Her research focuses on two broad and related questions. How might democratic representation develop outside of electoral institutions, not only within established democracies, but also in those places where representative democracy is underdeveloped or entirely absent, including the global arena? And how should we theorize and normatively assess various forms of non-electoral representation? Her manuscript, Who Elected Oxfam? A Democratic Defence of Self-Appointed Representatives considers actors who might credibly claim to be democratic representatives, though not as a consequence of formal elections. Laura’s manuscript is currently under review, and she is preparing articles on the constitutive effects of representation, and non-electoral mechanisms of authorization and accountability.

        Prior to joining the department, Laura was a Harper Schmidt Fellow and Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. She holds a doctorate from the University of British Columbia, and a Masters degree and an undergraduate degree from York University.

    • Professor Aletta Norval


      Research interests

      • Democratic theory
      • Post-structuralism
      • South African politics
      • Theories of ethnicity
      • Feminist theory
      • The construction of political identities

      Aletta is Professor of Political Theory in the Department and Dean of the Graduate School. She is Consulting Editor of Political Theory and serves on the Editorial Boards of Theory and Event, Acta Philosophica and Politikon. She is also founding member and member of the National Executive of the Association for Political Thought UK and Ireland.

      Her current research interests include democratic theory, questions of subjectivity, contestation and the formation of political demands. She writes on Cavell, Emerson, Wittgenstein, Rancière, Foucault, Tully and Laclau. Her monographs include Aversive Democracy. Inheritance and Originality in the Democratic Tradition (Cambridge University Press2007), and Deconstructing Apartheid Discourse (Verso 1996).

      She is co-editor of Practices of Freedom: Decentred Governance, Conflict and Democratic Participation (Cambridge, 2014), South Africa in Transition (Macmillan 1998), and Discourse Theory and Political Analysis (Manchester University Press 2000). She has published in the APSR, BJPolS, Political Theory, Diacritics, Ethics and Global Politics, and the Journal of Political Ideologies. She is currently working on a book on Wittgenstein and Cavell.

      Professor Norval is lead investigator on an interdisciplinary project investigating the controversy around identity cards, the use of biometrics for identification, issues of personal privacy and data protection, and what the future holds for identity management. The £1,36m IMPRINTS project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, focuses on why people accept some new technologies but not others. The project has been hailed as a 'big idea of the future' by RCUK. As a result of her work on biometrics, Professor Norval has been invited to sit on the Privacy Committee of the Biometrics Institute.

    • Dr Tom Parr


      Research interests

      • Theories of distributive and social justice
      • Discrimination
      • Job markets and their regulation
      • Educational justice

      Tom is a Lecturer in Political Theory in the Department. His research interests lie in moral, legal, and political philosophy and, in particular, in normative questions relating to the job market and its regulation. This includes questions about the structure of the job market, as well as about fair access to the benefits and burdens it produces. Most recently, Tom has published on the wrongness of discrimination.

      Within the Department, Tom teaches political theory. He is the Module Leader for Principles of Social Justice (GV250) and Contemporary Theories of Justice (GV538).