Photo of Professor Iain Hampsher-Monk

Professor Iain Hampsher-Monk

BA (Keele), FSA (Scotland)

Professor of Political Theory, Joint Editor of History of Political Thought


01392 723172

Amory B211

I have taught and researched political theory at Exeter the USA, and the Netherlands since 1971.  Janet Coleman and I founded the top-ranked journal History of Political Thought here in 1980. In Exeter too I wrote the PSA Prize-winning - A History of Modern Political Thought (Blackwell, 1992), now in its eleventh re-printing.

Whilst I have interests in all areas of political theory, my main research focus lies in early-modern European political thought and discourse, in particular, in republican thought and its naturalisation in British political thinking, in British seventeenth and eighteenth-century radicalism, the political thought of Edmund Burke and his contemporaries, and in methodological problems associated with the history and understanding of the political thought of the past and its relationship to contemporary political theorising. However, I also work and publish on aspects of contemporary political thought, particularly in areas associated with democratic theory, toleration and theories of equality, and in the application of economic thinking to political understanding and analysis.

My postgraduate supervision has included many of these areas as well as theses on the thought of figures well outside it such as that of Leon Trotsky and the Iranian politician and writer, Mehdi Bazargan- a fuller list on my research tab.

My international research links have recently been more with Europe than with the Anglophone world. I was an initiator and steering committee member of the European Science Foundation Network: Republicanism: a shared European Heritage which resulted in Republicanism A shared European Heritage, ed. van-Gelderen and Skinner (2vols) CUP, The Demands of Citizenship ed. McKinnon and Hampsher-Monk, Palgrave, and Republican Founding ed. Bodeker, Larr�re and Comparato, Olshki (forthcoming), to each of which I also contributed. I participated in the British Academy � CNRS collaboration Political Philosophy since Hobbes. Since 1995 I have become involved with national projects in the Netherlands and Finland modelled on the German genre of conceptual history � �Begriffsgeschichte�. I have particularly strong links at present with the Intellectual history research programme at the European University Institute in Florence. Since 2002, the two institutions have established an annual joint postgraduate conference bringing together students from the two institutions and other European centres for the history of political thought. Proceedings of these are now being published in History of Political Thought (2007, 2010).

Personal projects over the next few years will include several articles and a monograph on the political thought of Edmund Burke, a second edition of my History of Modern Political Thought, and the Cambridge Texts edition of Burke�s Reflections on the Revolution in France.

Research interests

My general research interests are in the history of political thought, particularly, but not exclusively in the C17th and C18th and in the methodology of the history of political ideas, in contemporary political theory, especially aspects of the market and toleration, and the methodology of social explanation.

Im currently working on a number of articles and chapters, and a monograph on Edmund Burke, together with pieces on Paine, Eighteenth-century radicalism, the linguistic resources of Republicanism, and egalitarianism in John Rawls.

I shall be preparing a second edition of my History of Political Thought, now in its eleventh reprint, and a companion anthology of sources. I am preparing the Cambridge Texts edition of Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, and participating as an editor in the exciting project of the Cambridge Dictionary of Political Thought.

More generally, in the field of methodology I am interested in relations between the history of political discourses and the emerging Anglophone field of conceptual history, and in pursuing the relationship between the history of political thought and the activity of political theorising itself. In the exciting diversity provided by the political theory group at Exeter I expect to be exploring, with others, the interface between our different approaches, which largely reflects the diversity within the field at large.

Research supervision

I am interested in supervising in most areas of the history of political thought – especially, but not exclusively the early modern period, but also in methodological issues in the history of political thought and in selected aspects of contemporary political philosophy.

Previous research topics supervised include:

The Political Ideas of Mehdi Bazargan

Trotsky and the Trades Unions

Hobbes's Dialogue between a philosopher and a student of the Common Law of England

Multiculturalism and the Liberal State

The will in the contract theory of Locke and Rousseau

Averroes and Kant as exemplars of enlightenment thinking

History as Magistra Vitae : the idea of history as a spur to political action


Research students

I am currently supervising three Ph.D. students:  Mike Cailes, who is working on the conception of the just war in the late renaissance and reformation, Robert Douglass (AHRC funded) on Hobbes's influence on Rousseau and Chris Fear (AHRC funded) on Victorian Historiography.

Recent completions include Ben Thompson on conceptions of the will in the contract theories of Locke and Rousseau, Nikola Regent on the idea of history as an inspiration to action in Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Burkhardt and Nietzsche, and Saud Al Tammamy on comparing Averroes and Kant as exemplars of enlightenment. Recent PhD students holding  academic posts include, Nafiz Tok in Nigde (Ankara), Robert Lamb here at Exeter, Saud Al Tammamy at King Saud University, and Ben Thompson St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. Earlier generations of my Exeter political theory students now hold chairs at Berkely (Mark Bevir), Harvard (Glyn Morgan) and Sheffield (Andrew Vincent).

Other information

Administrative duties
Academic Lead (Political Theory and IR)

External Positions

Iain Hampsher-Monk has recently been: a Member of the Steering Committee, European Science Foundation Network on European Republicanism; a Research Fellow, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study; and was a Panel Member, Politics and International Relations, RAE 2001 and RAE 2008.

He has been Postgraduate External examiner for the Universities of Cambridge, London (LSE, U.C.), Oxford, Utrecht, etc.


He is currently:

Convener and Member of Executive of Political Thought Conference (Oxford)
Member of the Executive of the Standing Conference for the Study of Political Theory (USA)

Member of the International History of Political and Social Concepts Group



I attended St Marylebone Grammar School in central London and studied Politics Philosophy and Economics at the University of Keele (1965-69), and with Bernard Crick at the University of Sheffield (1969-71). Following a number of excavations in the 1960s I briefly considered a career as a field archaeologist before joining the Department at Exeter as a lecturer in political theory in 1971. I've held visiting posts at the University of Missouri, St Louis and at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (Wassenaar, Den Hague). Since 1995 I have been Professor of Political Theory at Exeter, specialising in the history of political thought and contemporary political theory, and between 1996 and 2000 I was head of Department. Since then until 2009 I was Director of Research in the Department. I was a member of the Politics and IR Panel for the RAE2001 and RAE2008. I have been external examiner for taught courses at the Universities of Lancaster, LSE and Cambridge (twice), and examined Doctorates at many English Universities including  UCL, LSE and Cambridge and abroad at  the Sorbonne, European University Institute and the universities of Utrecht, Tampere etc.  

In 1980, with Janet Coleman, now Professor Political Theory at LSE, I founded and have since edited the journal History of Political Thought which is recognised as the premier journal in its field worldwide.

I've published widely in the field of the history of political thought (Historical Journal, British Journal of Political Science, Political Studies, Journal of British Studies, European Journal of Political Thought, Enlightenment and DIssent, Cambridge History of EIghteenth Century Political Thought, etc. and to a lesser extent in contemporary political thought, and my work has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and Korean.

Since the late 1980s I've been increasingly involved in a range of international collaborative projects including two European Science Foundation networks, one as contributor to The Origins of the Modern European State, and one as founder and member of the steering committee of Republicanism: a Shared European Heritage. Both projects led to major publications. Following my period at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study I've also been closely involved with the Dutch National Conceptual History Project, (jt. ed. Conceptual history: comjparative perspectives (Amsterdam, 1998) and latterly with the International Political and Social Concepts Group. I've also enjoyed working with Tom Sorrel and Luc Foisneau in an Anglo-French group on aspects of political theory since Hobbes.