Dr Alex Oaten

Dr Alex Oaten

Department of Political Science and International Studies
Teaching Fellow in Political Science

Contact details

School of Government
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Alex is a Teaching Fellow in Political Science who has multi-disciplinary interests in the areas of populism, political identities, discourse analysis and British politics. He has taught on a variety of modules during his time at Birmingham. Alex has published research on the English Defence League and spent time conducting an ethnographic study of the movement.


  • PhD in Political Science, University of Birmingham, 2016 
  • M.A. in Globalisation, Media and Culture, Keele University, 2011
  • B.A. in Political Science, University of Birmingham, 2010 


Alex was appointed to the position of Teaching Fellow within the POLSIS department at Birmingham in 2017. Prior to this Alex spent four years as a post-graduate, teaching on a variety of courses within POLSIS and also worked as an Associate Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University where he convened a course on British politics. Alex has studied within POLSIS as both an undergraduate and postgraduate. After completing his degree at Birmingham he spent a year studying for an interdisciplinary Masters Degree at Keele University before returning to Birmingham to conduct his Doctoral research in 2011. His thesis was an ethnographic study of the English Defence League that utilised the discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau in order to shed light on the EDL as a populist social movement. Alex completed his PhD research in 2016.


Current Teaching: 

Analysing Political Worlds (2nd year Undergraduate)

Diplomatic History: Post 1945 (2nd year Undergraduate)

Comparative Politics (2nd year undergraduate) 

Previous Teaching 

British Politics (2nd year Undergraduate)

Research Methods (1st Year Undergraduate)

Understanding Politics (1st Year Undergraduate)


Research interests: 

  • Populism – Especially the contemporary rise of populism within the Western World
  • Political engagement – Especially in terms of contemporary British political extremism and far right social and political movements and depoliticisation/anti-politics
  • Political Identities – Especially the construction of antagonistic political identities and the role that narratives of victimhood play in contemporary and historical political identities
  • Discourse theory – Post Structuralist discourse theory in particular
  • Ethnographic Research – in particular the ethics of ethnographic research

Current projects:

  • Currently working on research regarding the abolition of the UK Border Agency in 2013
  • Currently working on a paper that will demonstrate the utility of Laclau’s theory of populism – using Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party as a case study
  • Currently working on an article that investigates the ethics of ethnographic research of contentious groups

Other activities

Member of the Political studies Association


Oaten, A. 2014, “The Cult of the Victim: an analysis of the collective identity of the English Defence League” in ‘Patterns of Prejudice’ (vol.48 iss.4 pp.331-349)

View all publications in research portal