I started my academic career at the University of Leeds, first as an MA student in Politics (graduating with distinction in 2014), and then as a PhD researcher in British politics and social policy (passing without corrections in 2019). In my doctoral thesis, I developed an innovative approach to policy analysis, mapping the underlying assumptions of the UK’s social security reforms, with a particular focus on theories of change and ontological contradictions. The thesis received a Recognition of Research Excellence from the University of Leeds and was nominated for Thesis of the Year in the Department of Politics and International Studies.
From 2016 to 2020, I worked at the University of Leeds as a Tutor in Politics and Sociology, leading seminars, lectures, and modules, including a PhD-level research methods module. I joined the University of Surrey in July 2020 as a Research Fellow on the project ‘Local Institutions, Productivity, Sustainability and Inclusivity Trade-offs’ (LIPSIT). The project seeks to identify the institutional arrangements at the regional level that tend to lead to the ‘good’ management of policy trade-offs. I am currently researching the role played by Local Enterprise Partnerships and Local Industrial Strategies in the delivery of increased productivity, inclusive growth, and environment sustainability.
Affiliations and memberships
My research applies social theory to the study of British politics. Using mixed methods, I focus specifically on three main areas: devolution and local governance; conservatism and the UK Conservative Party; social policy and work. My engagement with social theory and social ontology entails an interest in the relationships between discourse, institutions, structure, and agency, primarily from a critical realist perspective (see my 2019 and 2020 papers). My empirical application of social theory is clearest in my 2021 paper in the journal British Politics, where I analyse the underlying ontology of Conservative Party social policy. This paper emerged from my doctoral research, which developed the approach of ‘ontological policy analysis’ and applied the approach to the UK’s post-2010 social security system.
Since 2020, I have worked on the multi-institutional LIPSIT project as a postdoctoral research fellow. Through my work on this project, my current research relates to English devolution, regional governance, and local political economy in the UK. The first academic output from this research is my paper in the Political Quarterly on the government’s levelling up agenda, but further papers are in the pipeline with co-collaborators. The LIPSIT project seeks to impact the government’s emerging regional policy agenda, with a major report on levelling up and a recent written evidence submission to the House of Lords Constitution Committee.
Local Institutions, Productivity, Sustainability and Inclusivity Trade-offs (LIPSIT) is an ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) funded collaborative project. The aim of the project is to identify institutional and organisational arrangements at the regional level that tend to lead to the ‘good’ management of policy trade-offs associated with increasing productivity, and to make recommendations based on this.
Recommendations will cover:
- Changes to the way national and regional policy makers operate within the current system of institutions and organisations
- Modest changes to that system that policy makers responsible for the design of the system are likely to accept, and
- More radical changes to that system that could be adopted in the future.
If policy makers act on these recommendations this will lead to strengthened institutions and thus to improved regional and local productivity. Ultimately this should lead to an improvement in the UK’s productivity record.
My approach to teaching puts the experimentation with ideas at the heart of student learning. I seek to create an inclusive and supportive environment within which students can test their ideas, think reflexively about their own assumptions, and feel able to shift and develop their position. In 2017, I was awarded Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, and was nominated for the Leeds Positive Impact Award. I am currently working towards a HEA Fellowship.
The interdisciplinary nature of my research is reflected in my range of teaching expertise. In recent years, I have taught early modern and 20th century political theory, British politics and political marketing, introductions to sociology and the sociology of work, and the philosophy and methods of political science. My module leadership roles have included an undergraduate British politics module, a PhD-level research methods module, and a module for medical students on the Politics of the NHS.