Dr Simon Usherwood

Research Interests

  • Opposition to the European Union and Euroscepticism: The main thrust of my research falls into this area, looking at how oppositional groups organise, operate and impact on the European integration process.  In particular, I work on groups in the UK, France and operating at a European level, as well as an emerging strand of research on how the EU and national governments might engage with sceptical voices.  In addition to numerous publications on the subject, I am also coordinator of the UACES Collaborative Research Network on Euroscepticism, which has some 120 members and organises regular events.


  • European Politics: More generally, I have on-going research interests in the operation of the EU as a whole.  This is reflected in my work with John Pinder on "The European Union: A Very Short Introduction" (OUP) and on my regular blog postings at Politics@Surrey.


  • British Politics: Focusing mainly on the relationship between the EU and the UK, especially in light of the 2016 referendum on EU membership.


  • Negotiation-based teaching methods: My teaching at Surrey has allowed me to both try out various innovative pedagogies and to use them as a basis for research.  In addition to my publications in this field, I also regularly blog on the Active Learning in Political Science site, with colleagues from the US.

Research Collaborations

Current collaborations include:


Introduction to European Integration; Negotiating Politics.

Introduction to Politics; Comparative Politics; The State and European Integration; Public Policy & Administration; British Politics; Terrorism & Counter-Terrorism; Integration of Europe; Political Economy of European Integration; German Politics; Interdisciplinary Research; Theory & Practice of Learning.

Departmental Duties

  • Associate Dean (Learning & Teaching), Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences, 2013-16
  • Deputy Head of School, 2008-13
  • Director of Learning & Teaching, 2011-13
  • University Teaching Observer since 2007
  • Centre for Educational & Academic Development Faculty Scholar 2008-2011
  • Surrey Centre for Excellence in Professional Training and Education (SCEPTrE) Fellow 2007-8

Current or Recent Professional Activity

University Association for Contemporary European Studies (Treasurer, 2016-19, committee member); University Association for Contemporary European Studies Student Forum (former Chairman); Political Studies Association; Higher Education Academy.

Contact Me

Phone: 01483 68 9962

Find me on campus
Room: 07 AC 05

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Journal articles

  • Usherwood S, Wright KAM. (2017) 'Sticks and stones: Comparing Twitter campaigning strategies in the EU referendum'. SAGE Publications The British Journal of Politics and International Relations,
    [ Status: Accepted ]


    Both camps made extensive use of social media during the referendum, both to mobilise existing supporters and to convert new ones. However, the three main groups – Stronger In, Vote Leave and Leave.EU – each took differing strategies within this. Drawing on tweets published by the groups, the paper compares the use of different positive and negative frames, as well the thematic content. While reinforcing other work that shows differentials in focus on specific themes – economics for Stronger In, politics and immigration for the Leave groups – the analysis also highlights the use on both sides of “sticks” (capitalisation on the other side’s errors) and “stones” (new issues and framings that the group brings to the debate). If the latter constituted the pre-game plan, then the former became a substantial part of the practical application during the campaign, a development reinforced by the nature of the medium itself.

  • Usherwood S. (2016) 'Did Ukip win the referendum?'. Sage Political Insight, 7 (2), pp. 27-29.
  • Usherwood S. (2015) 'The Making of Eurosceptic Britain'. WILEY-BLACKWELL JCMS-JOURNAL OF COMMON MARKET STUDIES, 53 (4), pp. 933-934.
  • Usherwood S. (2015) 'Building resources for simulations: Challenges and opportunities'. European Political Science, 14, pp. 218-227.
  • Usherwood S. (2013) 'The Shifting Focus of Opposition to the European Union'. UACES Journal of Contemporary European Research, 9 (2), pp. 279-296.


    Using France and the UK as case studies, this paper discusses how the focus of groups opposed to European integration has changed over time. Such groups often claim to have a generalised or ideological opposition to the European Union, but in practice it is apparent that particular issues arouse most attention. The article covers the period since the mid-1980s, to show how the relative importance of different elements has changed over time, both for anti-EU group formation and changes in groups’ activities. Most notably, this change has been informed by two key factors. Firstly, an incomplete (or biased) view of the EU system repeatedly draws groups’ attention to otherwise minor topics, often taking them to be symbolic of wider developments (e.g. harmonisation of standards). Secondly, groups’ interest is highest in projects when they are not fully decided (e.g. membership of the Euro or the constitutionalisation process since Laeken). The overall picture that emerges is one of groups rationally concentrating their efforts on targets that offer the most unambiguous case for an alternative policy at the point of greatest leverage in the policy-making cycle. This underlines the dynamic nature of opposition to the EU and the fundamental link between that opposition and the EU itself.

  • Usherwood S. (2013) 'Constructing Effective Simulations of the European Union for Teaching'. European Political Science, 13, pp. 53-60.
  • Raymond C, Usherwood S. (2013) 'Assessment in Simulations'. Journal of Political Science Education, 9 (2), pp. 157-167.
  • Usherwood S, Startin N. (2012) 'Euroscepticism as a Persistent Phenomenon'. Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, , pp. 1-16.
  • Usherwood S. (2011) 'British Government and Politics: Balancing Europeanization and Independence'. WILEY-BLACKWELL JCMS- Journal of Common Market Studies, 49 (3), pp. 693-693.
  • Usherwood S. (2011) 'The media profile of anti-EU groups in the UK'. Perspectives on European Politics and Economics, , pp. 131-158.
  • Usherwood S. (2009) 'Enhancing student immersion in negotiation-based learning environments'. International Journal of Learning, 16 (7), pp. 607-614.
  • Usherwood S. (2009) 'The Medial Profile of Anti-EU Groups in the UK'. Nova Science Publishers Current Politics and Economics of Europe, 19 (3/4), pp. 151-178.


    The UK has the most fully developed set of anti-European Union groups of any country, from national political parties through to local grassroots organisations and sectoral lobbies. For most of these groups, the media plays a central role in their work, enabling them to reach audiences much greater than otherwise possible. In this paper, the profile of such groups in the national print media will be considered, using frequency analysis. This analysis demonstrates that coverage, while generally increasing over time, remains very uneven and episodic, both in time and between groups. These findings are further backed up by study of discourse markers. Differences between newspapers are discussed, with particular reference to the general political affiliation of the newspaper, as well as its position on European integration. The paper concludes by considering the consequences of this pattern of media coverage for anti-EU groups at a time when the integration process would appear to be particularly susceptible to expressions of opposition.

  • Usherwood S. (2009) 'Grounding simulations in reality: A case study from an undergraduate politics degree'. On the Horizon, 17 (4), pp. 296-302.


    Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to address the issue of how best to reproduce realistic reproductions and outcomes in the dynamic environment of a simulated negotiation on a political theme. Design/methodology/approach - Using a case study run by the author of a university undergraduate negotiation module, qualitative data are provided to support a pragmatic model of addressing issues of realistic behaviour and outcomes. Findings - Through a combination of elements - notably, integration of more conventional academic research, use of repeated points of contact between students and the module leader, and extensive reflection after the exercise by the student - it is possible to provide for a simulation that more closely follows real-world outcomes than would otherwise be the case. Research limitations/implications - The use of a single case study clearly limits the ability to generalise and implies the need to replicate the work in new iterations and in new contexts. Practical implications - The paper highlights the importance of grounding simulations in reality, if they are to maximise their utility as a teaching practice. It also stresses the high level of engagement, not only on the part of the students, but also on the part of the module leader, who must be an active part of the simulation structure. Originality/value - The consideration of a continuous process of grounding simulations in reality is one that has not been explored by the existing literature, so it offers useful insights into practice that will be of value to both practitioners and theorists in the field. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

  • Usherwood S. (2008) 'The dilemmas of a single-issue party: The UK Independence Party'. Taylor & Francis Representation, 44 (3), pp. 255-264.


    The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has been one of the most successful single-issue parties in modern British political history. With its central policy of withdraw from the European Union, UKIP was the third largest party in the 2004 European Parliament elections. However, this article highlights the tensions that exist within the party, in terms of strategy, focus and even its objectives. From its foundation in the early 1990s, the party has been placed in a position equivalent to the Fundi-Realo debate in the German Green party of the 1980s: does the party strive for ideological purity and singularity of purpose, or does it work within the system it professes to abhor? The article considers the different pressures placed on the party, considering both environmental constraints placed on it by the institutional system and the internal ideological currents at play. These internal and external factors help to explain the party’s dilemma and point towards some possible future paths.

  • Usherwood S. (2007) 'Proximate factors in the mobilisation of anti-EU groups in France and the UK: the European Union as first-order politics'. Journal of European Integration, 29 (1), pp. 3-21.
  • Usherwood S. (2005) 'Why is the British Left so poorly mobilised against the EU?'. The European Journal, 12 (4), pp. 10-13.
  • Usherwood S. (2005) 'Realists, sceptics and opponents: opposition to the EU's Constitutional Treaty'. Journal of Contemporary European Research, 1 (2), pp. 4-12.
  • Usherwood S. (2005) 'The Development of anti-EU Groups in the UK since the 1980s: an overview'. European Journal, 12 (3), pp. 7-9.
  • Usherwood S. (2004) 'Bruges as a lodestone of British opposition to the European Union'. Collegium, no. 29, pp. pp5-p16.
  • Usherwood S. (2002) 'Opposition to the European Union in the UK: The dilemma of public opinion and party management'. Cambridge Government and Opposition, 37 (2), pp. 211-230.

Conference papers

  • Usherwood S. (2016) 'Teaching simulation game design: A model, tested in the field'. American Political Science Association Portland OR: American Political Science Association Teaching & Learning Conference
    [ Status: Unpublished ]
  • Asal V, Kollars N, Rosen A, Usherwood S. (2015) 'Playing Poker with Hobbes, Kant and Anderson'. Washington: APSA Teaching & Learning Conference
  • usherwood S. (2014) 'The 2014 European elections as a vehicle for mainstream Euroscepticism'. Amsterdam: Rejecting Europe or Worried about the crisis?
  • Usherwood S. (2014) 'Euroscepticism as a lever: Contesting European integration with ulterior motives'. Oslo: Democratic constitutionalism in Europe
  • Usherwood S. (2014) 'Making simulations work'. Maastricht: European Conference on Teaching and Learning Politics, IR and European Studies
  • Usherwood S. (2014) 'UKIP: One man band, or resilient party machine?'.
  • Usherwood S. (2014) 'Assessment Strategies in Simulation Games'. Toronto: International Studies Association Annual Conference


    One of the big challenges in bringing simulations into the classroom is the question of how (or even whether) to assess them. In this presentation, I will consider the underlying logics of simulations, which in turn suggest a number of assessment strategies. These include assessing knowledge acquisition, skills development and critical reflection. Beyond that immediate challenge, the presentation will also throw some light on related questions of feedback and simulation design.

  • Usherwood S. (2013) 'Building resources for simulations: Challenges and opportunities'. Mainz: EU Simulations: Scholarly reflection and research on an innovative teaching methodology
  • Usherwood S. (2013) 'Euroscepticism as Action, not Ideology'. Leeds: UACES Annual Conference
  • Usherwood S. (2013) 'Uploading the New European Union: Denmark, Ireland & the UK as Constitutional Entrepreneurs'. UACES, Woburn House, London: 40 years since the First Enlargement
  • Usherwood S. (2012) 'L'enfer, c'est les autres: Othering in Eurosceptic discourse'. Belfast, UK: Political Studies Association
  • Usherwood S, Startin N. (2011) 'Euroscepticism as a Persistent Phenomenon'. Cambridge, UK: University Association for Contemporary European Studies
  • Usherwood S. (2011) 'Enhancing Student Immersion in Negotiation-based Learning Environments'. Albuquerque, USA: American Political Studies Association Learning & Teaching Conference
  • Usherwood S. (2010) 'Negotiation-Based Learning: Objectives, Strategies, Challenges'. London, UK: C-SAP/JISC Conference on Open Educational Resources
  • Usherwood S. (2010) 'Constructing Effective Simulations of the European Union for Teaching: Realising the Potential'. Bruges, Belgium: University Association for Contemporary European Studies
  • Usherwood S. (2010) 'UKIP's Political Strategy: Opportunistic Idealism in a Fragmented Political Arena'. Bruges, Belgium: University Association for Contemporary European Studies
  • Usherwood S. (2009) 'Tactics or strategy? The debate on use of a referendum for British ratification of the Constitutional Treaty'. Angers, France: University Association for Contemporary European Studies
  • Usherwood S. (2009) 'Tactics or strategy? The debate on use of a referendum for British ratification of the Constitutional Treaty'. Angers, France: University Association for Contemporary European Studies 15th Research Conference
  • Usherwood S. (2009) 'Enhancing Student Immersion in Negotiation-Based Learning Environments'. Barcelona, SPain: 16th International Conference on Learning
  • Usherwood S. (2008) 'Strange bedfellows: the sources of pressure for referenda on British ratification of EU treaties'. Edinburgh, Scotland: University Association for Contemporary European Studies 14th Research Conference
  • Usherwood S. (2004) 'Left-wing opposition to the European Union in the UK: explaining its underdevelopment'. Lincoln : Politics: Political Studies Association 54th Annual Conference
  • Usherwood S. (2004) 'Proximate factors in the mobilisation of anti-EU groups in France and the UK: the European Union as first-order politics'. Bologna : Politics: European Consortium of Political Research 2nd Pan-European Conference on European Union Politics
  • Usherwood S. (2003) 'The shifting focus of opposition to the European Union'. Newcastle : Politics: University Association for Contemporary European Studies 9th Research Conference
  • Usherwood S. (2002) 'Opposition to the EU in France: A challenge to French leadership?'. Belfast : Politics: University Association for Contemporary European Studies 8th Research Conference
  • Usherwood S. (2002) 'The European Union as an issue in french politics'. Bordeaux : Politics: European Consortium of Political Research 1st Pan-European Conference on European Union politics
  • Usherwood S. (2001) 'Opposition to the EU in France and the UK'. Canterbury : Politics: European Consortium of Political Research 1st General Conference
  • Usherwood S. (2001) 'Opposition to the EU in the UK'. Manchester : Politics: Political Studies Association 51st Annual Conference


  • Pinder J, Usherwood S. (2013) The European Union: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press
  • Usherwood S. (2011) European Union. Abingdon : Routledge


    In the fifty or so years since the Treaty of Rome, the European Union has evolved far beyond the scope of any other comparable entity. The EU is now a unique model of international cooperation and integration, and its reach extends into almost every sphere of the lives of its half a billion citizens. As well as the establishment of a single market, the Union has its own currency, is developing a foreign policy, and has a growing role in justice and cultural matters. Scholarly work on the European Union has undergone a similarly rapid evolution. For example, with the major expansions of the Union since the end of the Cold War, there has been a huge growth in the range and depth of research into the many challenges of integration. As serious thinking about and around this and other crucial aspects of the European Union continues to flourish and develop, this new title in Routledge’s acclaimed Critical Concepts in Political Science series meets the need for an authoritative reference work to make sense of the subject’s vast literature and the continuing explosion in research output. Edited by Simon Usherwood, a leading EU scholar, it is a five-volume collection of foundational and cutting-edge contributions. The first volume in the collection (‘The Development of the European Union’) assembles the key work on the historical evolution of the European Union from the end of the Second World War to the present day. Even before the Constitutional Treaty proposed in 2004, there was much academic and political discussion about the degree and manner to which the EU transcended traditional political units and the materials gathered in Volume II (‘The Organization of the European Union and the Constitutional Turn’) explore the nature of the Union at this most fundamental level. The third volume in the collection (‘The Institutions of the European Union’) collects the most important research on the institutional structure of the EU. Here, the focus is on the dynamic processes at work within institutions and the models of understanding that academics have developed. Volume IV (‘Member States as Actors in the European Union’), meanwhile, brings together the best work on particular member states, considering, for example, why certain states have remained dominant actors within the Union, despite the scope and depth of EU expansion. In addition, the processes and outcomes which underpin this dominance—such as europeanisation—are also explored. The final volume in the coll

  • Pinder J, Usherwood S. (2007) The European Union: A Very Short Introduction. OUP Oxford

Book chapters

  • Usherwood S. (2016) 'Modelling Transnational and Pan-European Euroscepticism'. in FitzGibbon J, Leruth B, Startin N (eds.) Euroscepticism as a Transnational and Pan-European Phenomenon.The Emergence of a New Sphere of Opposition Routledge Article number 2
    [ Status: Accepted ]
  • Usherwood S. (2016) 'The UK Independence Party: The dimensions of mainstreaming'. in Akkerman T, Rooduijn M, de Lange S (eds.) Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties in Western Europe: Into the Mainstream? Routledge


    In many ways, UKIP represents a classic case of mainstreaming of a peripheral party: its public profile extends far beyond that of any other equivalent in the post-war British polity and its pretensions to power look more credible than at any point in its history. However, this chapter will argue that such impressions need to be taken with much care. Firstly, the opportunity structure of British politics – first-past-the-post and still highly centralised – militates against the party’s likelihood of success beyond the media. Second, the evolving and expanding policy base of the party makes it ever-harder to accommodate the very disparate set of supporters that has been built up, especially because so much of it is negatively constructed. Third, the party suffers from a persistent lack of organisational development to match either its growing public support or its much-enlarged (but passive) membership: the personality of Nigel Farage is central in this and the capacity of UKIP to develop beyond him remains in doubt. Finally, there is a question of whether UKIP is a radical right party at all, given both the diversity of ideological positions among members and the composition of its policies. In summary, the chapter argues that UKIP’s transition to the mainstream remains a work in progress, with considerable scope for failure.

  • Asal V, Raymond C, Usherwood S. (2014) 'War, peace and everything in between: simulations in international relations'. in Ishiyama J, Simon E, Miller W (eds.) Handbook on Teaching and Learning in Political Science and International Relations Edward Elgar , pp. 304-314.
  • Usherwood S. (2014) 'Britain and Europe: a model of permanent crisis?'. in Demetriou K (ed.) The European Union in Crisis: Explorations in Representation and Democratic Legitimacy Springer , pp. 3-14.
  • Usherwood S. (2011) 'Margaret Thatcher and British Opposition to European Integration: Saint or Sinner?'. in (ed.) Opposition to the European Union Franz Steiner Verlag
    [ Status: Accepted ]


    For many in the British anti-EU movement, Margaret Thatcher holds a status more akin to a divine figure than a former Prime Minister: similarly, for many outside observers, Thatcher is the personification of that movement, a querulous and negative figure, out of step with the tide of history. This chapter argues such views are both misguided and unhelpful. The process of abstraction of Thatcher's actions during the 1980s into an image of 'St. Margaret' or of 'Thatcher, the little-Englander' obscures the way that she chose to engage with the integration process. Two key points stand out here. Firstly, Thatcher's European policy was informed by a fundamental pragmatic approach, focused on the short-term and on problem-solving and thus poorly suited to the more idealist continental style. Secondly, the very process of lionisation highlights the limits to Thatcher's agency: if we are to understand the crystallisation of opposition to the EU in the 1990s, then we have to see Thatcher as only one part of the process.

  • Usherwood S. (2007) 'Sceptical or Simply Opposed? Eurosceptics and the EU's Constitutional Treaty'. in Cohen A, Vauchez A (eds.) La Constitution européenne: Elites, mobilisations, votes Brussels, France : Editions de l'Université de Bruxelles Article number pp.167-180

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