The Centre for Political Thought is home to one of the largest and most diverse political theory research clusters in the UK.

Our research

Exeter possesses one of the most distinguished reputations in political theory in the UK. Political Theory has been a strength here since 1969 when Michael Oakeshott was external assessor for the first named chair in the subject at a provincial English University: Maurice Goldsmith. The current professor, Iain Hampsher-Monk, was appointed as a junior lecturer two years later. Since then many senior figures have either spent time teaching here, including professors Janet Coleman (LSE), Alan Patten (Princeton) and the late Robert Wokler (latterly at Yale), or were taught by the Exeter staff. Exeter theory students who went on to established academic careers include professors Andrew Vincent (Sheffield), Mark Bevir (Berkley) and Glynn Morgan (Harvard).

The journal History of Political Thought was conceived and begun in the department, where it is still edited. Colleagues publish in the following internationally renowned journals: Political Studies, British Journal of Political Science, Contemporary Political Theory, The Historical Journal, History of Political Thought, Journal of Political Philosophy, Radical Philosophy, Utilitas, History of European Ideas, European Journal of Political Theory, Constellations, Historical Reflections/Reflexions Historiques, Feminist Theory, and Philosophy and Social Criticism

Since the 1960s the department has continued to provide a unique, two-year history of political thought lecture sequence for undergraduates (also available to MA students wishing to re-inforce their undergraduate political theory education). At masters level, we offer core courses in history of political thought, contemporary moral and Anglo-American political philosophy, and contemporary continental political philosophy, along with a range of options devoted to specific thinkers or issues currently of interest to academics within the cluster. Further details of undergraduate and postgraduate curricula can be found here.

Exeter now has one of the largest groups of political theorists in the UK. It has a long-standing reputation as a centre of expertise in the history of political ideas and discourse and is the home of the discipline’s leading journal, History of Political Thought.

Research projects

Details of our current and past funded research projects can be found here.

Selected publications

Our academic staff have written, edited, and collaborated on a wide range of publications, some of which are shown here.

Our research themes

History of political thought

  • early-modern and modern political thought and discourse
  • 17th-19th British radicalism
  • methodological issues in interpretation of past political thoughts/texts
  • social explanation
  • markets
  • political thought of Hume, Mandeville, Paine, Burke, Godwin & Thelwall
  • revolution

Analytical political theory

  • constitutionalism and democratic theory
  • feminist theory
  • toleration and recognition
  • egalitarianism
  • distributive justice and property rights
  • consent
  • climate change
  • global justice
  • political thought of Rawls, Nozick
  • civil society and sociability

Continental political theory

  • phenomenology
  • complexity
  • time, change and difference
  • narrative identity
  • theories of emergence
  • agonistic politics
  • concept of the political
  • sustainability
  • artificial culture
  • human rights
  • recognition
  • reconciliation and transitional justice
  • political thought of Bergson, Deleuze, Arendt, Schmitt & Rancière