British Politics at Birmingham

British Politics at Birmingham is an interdisciplinary group which spans the Department of Political Science and International Relations (POLSIS) and the Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV). It brings together political scientists, historians, social policy experts and others from across the University who have research interests in the broad area of British politics.

The group aims to promote a very broad definition of the term 'British Politics' – to incorporate any aspect of change and continuity in political and socio-economic relations within the UK and between Britain and the European / international environment. As such, the group aims to forge collaborative projects between a wide range of PhD students and academics who take Britain as a key area of focus in their research.

For further information about the British politics research group contact: Peter Kerr or Stephen Bates ( You can follow the group on Twitter @britpolatbrum



The Group's activities include:

  • Fostering innovative research into contemporary and historical problems of British politics, government and society
  • Research-based Masters degrees, including the MSc/PGDip in Public Management
  • A lively PhD community, in which students work closely with leading scholars in the field;
  • A blog that debates the impact on public services and citizens of current political and policy issues
  • Research-based policy advice and executive development for politicians and managers in public service organisations
  • A series of seminars, workshops, reading groups and other research initiatives
  • Providing a focal point for the development of research collaborations both in terms of publications and research income generation.

The British Politics at Birmingham Group also has close ties with the Palgrave journal, British Politics, which has been housed within POLSIS since 2005 


Recent and on-going research projects undertaken by members of British Politics at Birmingham include:

The Impact of Gendered & Raced Select Committee Membership Patterns on Parliamentary Scrutiny (2021-2022)
The project will investigate the impact of gendered and raced membership patterns and attendant institutionalised practices on the work and focus of select committees. 

Queering the census: LGBT advocacy and the inclusion of a sexual orientation question in the 2021 UK census (2020-2021)
The 2021 census will be the UK's first to include a question about sexual orientation, making the UK the first country in the world to ask about this topic in its national census. Asking about sexual orientation in the census poses several challenges, including issues of intra-household privacy and the difficulty of capturing the complex nature of sexual identities using a single question with tick-box responses. This project will investigate the role of organisations representing LGBT people in the process leading to the addition of this question. 

Committees in Comparative Perspective (2018-19)
Funded by the Birmingham-Illinois Partnership for Discovery, Engagement and Education (BRIDGE), this project was organised by colleagues at the University of Birmingham and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Concerned with the roles and effects of parliamentary and legislative committees in a range of countries, including the UK, the project comprised a workshop in Brussels in 2018 and a subsequent special issue of the Journal of Legislative Studies in 2019.

Shrinking the state: analysing the reform of arm's length bodies (2012-2015)
This three-year project analysed the UK Coalition Government’s major reform of 'arm's length bodies' (often called ‘quangos’).  Our research asked whether and to what extent ALB reform will deliver the policy goal of a smaller, smarter, cheaper state, and what can be learnt from international and historical comparisons.  

Community governance in a context of decentralisation (Nov 2012 - Apr 2013)
Community governance is perceived as a useful means of enabling citizens and communities to influence the decisions and public services which affect their everyday lives, bringing greater ‘experiential’ expertise into the policy process, but also of opening up new democratic potentialities and encouraging greater bureaucratic responsiveness.  This review explored why these crucial concerns remain unresolved and consider creative responses to issues of demand, mobilisation, equity and risk.

Towards transformative co-production in local public services (Nov 2012 - Apr 2013)
The fiscal crisis and changing demographics and expectations of the population have combined with a perception of the failure of traditional models for the delivery of local public service to demand radical new approaches to local public services.  This review explored the tensions in thinking about co-production as a substitutive response to austerity and considered when, where and how citizens and professionals can work together to deliver transformation in local public services.

New times revisited: writing the history of 1980s Britain
How should historians of Britain write the history of the 1980s? Should we see the later-twentieth century as an ‘age of fracture’? How far should the decade be associated with the emergence and consolidation of a new form of hegemonic politics associated with Thatcherism? What narratives best encapsulate the everyday and ordinary experience of the 1980s? Building on a major conference held at the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick in 2013, Modern British Studies at Birmingham is the home of on-going research by Chris Moores, Kieran Connell, Gavin Schaffer, Matthew Hilton, Daisy Payling, Andrew Jones & Amy Edwards which unpicks and explores the history of the 1980s. 

Select Committee Data Archive Project, 1979-Present (Mar 2015 - Sept 2016)
The Wright Committee reforms implemented in 2010 contained important changes to the scrutiny and accountability functions of the UK Parliament and in particular to the functions of Select Committees (SCs). These reforms were described by The Times as ‘the most significant change to the way that the House operates in 30 years’ (Coates, 5-5-10). The project utilised quantitative methods to create and analyse a comprehensive dataset covering the membership, activities and outputs of SCs of the House of Commons from 1979 (the date of previous major reform) to the present in order to permit an evidence-based evaluation of the Wright reforms, as well as providing a valuable resource for understanding this vital venue for executive-legislative interaction and for parliamentary involvement in the development and scrutiny of policy

Contact details

Peter Kerr

Stephen Bates

British Politics research group is part of the Department of Political Science and International Studies.