Photo of Professor Claire Dunlop

Professor Claire Dunlop


I am a political scientist and, specifically, a public policy and administration scholar. My main research interests are the politics of expertise and knowledge utilization; epistemic communities and advisory politics; risk governance; policy learning and analysis; impact assessment; and policy narratives and myths. I explore these conceptual interests at the UK and EU levels principally, and most frequently in relation to agricultural, food and environmental issues. From 2010-2016, I convened the UK Political Studies Association’s (PSA) Public Administration Specialist Group and since January 2014 have been co-editor of Public Policy and Administration.

To download copies of my CV, publications and see work in progress, please go to my pages.

I graduated with a first class honours degree in Politics from the University of Strathclyde in 1997, and completed an MSc in Public Policy with distinction in 1998. In 2002, I completed my PhD on epistemic communities and knowledge production in the EU which was supervised by David Judge and examined by Laura Cram and Claudio Radaelli. Throughout my postgraduate years, I taught on a variety of introductory politics and EU policy courses at Strathclyde, Stirling and Glasgow Caledonian universities. While writing-up my thesis, I worked for the Scottish Consumer Council as a research consultant. This fuelled a desire to spend some time out of the library to get some hands-on experience linking research with policy. So, in October 2002, I started a research post at the Scottish Executive in Edinburgh. Following this, I ran an NHS Health Scotland multi-methods study on teacher stress and occupational health policy at the University of Glasgow’s Public and Community Health Department with Ewan Macdonald. Though I enjoyed my time at the research-policy interface, the lure of academia proved too strong and, in August 2004, I took up a lectureship at the University Exeter. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2009; Associate Professor in 2015, and Professor in 2016.

My career at Exeter is rewarding and challenging in equal measure. I am fortunate to have been able to develop three areas of my research interests – science and decision-making; environmental regulation and policy learning – through funding from the British Academy (on bovine tuberculosis and epistemic communities), the Sustainable Development Commission (on regulation of sustainable development) and the European Research Council (on policy learning). This latter ERC grant is for a 4-year project with Claudio Radaelli and ran from 2009-2012. Claudio and I are now working on another 4-year ERC grant on policy instruments of acountability.

Of course, there is more to being an academic than the pursuit of a research agenda. Communicating research findings and teaching is at the heart of university life and it is something that I throw myself into with relish. I teach public policy and administration related modules to all undergraduate years and, at the MA level, I teach risk governance on our Masters in Public Administration (MPA) programme. I have supervised and co-supervised eight PhD students to successful completion, and am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I have held a number of major administrative posts in my department. After being MA dissertation coordinator, I spent two years as UG coordinator, then three years as the department’s UG Admissions Tutor. Between 2010-2015 I was the academic lead on employability and during that time set up the Politics Internship Programme for Undergraduate Students in Westminster. In 2015-2017, I was Politics Director of Impact and since 2017 have been Director of Research. I am also proud to lecture to year 12 students for the outreach initiative Realising Opportunities.

In addition to my research and teaching responsibilities at Exeter, I am also involved in teaching and knowledge transfer to the wider academic profession and public sector. Most notably, between 2008-2014 I was privileged to teach on the Masters in Public Affairs (MPA) at the internationally renowned Sciences Po in Paris. The contacts made at Sciences Po-Paris have been invaluable in the design and development of aspects of the Exeter MPA.

Though I’m as bad as most academics at striking a healthy work-life balance, in my spare time I enjoy travelling with my girlfriend, abstract art appreciation (especially Barnett Newman and Clyfford Still, and to a lesser extent Mark Rothko and Paul Klee), wine tasting with pals, listening to the Beatles (especially Revolver and Abbey Road) and Tamla Motown, playing with our Persian cats and golf (though not simultaneously!), bird watching, reading biographies and spotting blimps in the sky.