The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Political Philosophy

Political Theory

Research Cluster

Political theory explores the foundational values of social life and their application in contemporary political issues. It provides analytical tools to investigate issues such as justice, gender, democracy, and rights and to reflect critically on actions, events, institutions, and policies.

At Newcastle, the political theory cluster houses a variety of philosophical approaches to these endeavours. This includes specialisms in analytical political philosophy, critical theory, feminist theory, and democratic theory.

Among our strengths is the application of political theory to public policy and politics. In this vein, our members explore issues ranging from the local provision of public toilets and citizens’ assemblies to trade policy and feminist commodity activism. For further details of our research, please visit our staff page.

The cluster organises seminars and other research events throughout the academic year. In recent years, highlights have included workshops on the writings of Adam Smith and on issues of Labour Market Injustice, as well as the Association of Social and Political Philosophy Annual Conference 2019. Across these events, we have welcomed internationally renowned scholars, such as Annabelle Lever (SciencesPo), Victor Tadros (Warwick), Jo Wolff (Oxford), and Lea Ypi (LSE).

The cluster provides a thriving environment for post-doctoral and PhD researchers and we welcome applications in most areas of political theory. Current projects explore everyday actions in combatting climate change, the permissibility of selling citizenship, epistemological commitments in reading political thought, and concepts of human/non-human relations. Please visit the relevant webpages for more information on funding opportunities for post-doctoral research, the application process for applying to study for an MPhil or PhD, and details of postgraduate funding opportunities.

For further information on any of the cluster’s activities, please contact the Political Philosophy Cluster Convenors, Johannes Kniess and Andrew Walton.


Staff involved in working within this research cluster are listed below.

StaffList: Political Philosophy

Professor Derek Bell
Professor of Environmental Political Theory

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7465

Mary Hull
Teaching Assistant

Dr Meera Inglis
Lecturer in political theory


Professor Peter Jones
Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7528

Dr Graham Long
Senior Lecturer

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7566

Dr Ian O'Flynn
Senior Lecturer in Political Theory

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 2087507

Dr Jemima Repo
Senior Lecturer in the Politics of Gender

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8603

Dr Jo Swaffield
Research Excellence Academy Fellow

Telephone: 0191 208 3690

Dr Andrew Walton
Senior Lecturer in Political Philosophy

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5554

Postgraduates' Projects

Our postgraduates are working on diverse subjects within this research cluster.

Richard Lambeth

My project problematises the ways in which human-non-human relations are conceptualised in instrumental terms, and attempts to trace the ideas underpinning these relations via a model of intellectual history drawn from Karl Mannheim and Michel Foucault. Empirically, it will focus on the concept of 'natural capital', and how human-non-human relations are formulated according to the intellectual trajectory of this concept.

Jocelyn Hickey

My thesis demonstrates that a reader's epistemological commitments play a conditioning role in their reading of historical concepts. To make this argument, I employ the illustrative example of readings of Adam Smith's 'invisible hand'. By demonstrating that different types of reading of this famous phrase are underpinned by different epistemologies, I hope to highlight the importance of adopting epistemological analysis to comprehensively analyse the reception of different thinkers and their ideas. 

Matthew Wilkinson