I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead the development of this innovative research degree, which welcomes students with a particular interest in the importance of key political and democratic institutions. Whilst the study of government is an established field of research, our focus is on combining this with the equally important but under-researched topic of opposition, as well as the more established field of parliamentary studies.
This approach builds on the work of the Centre for Opposition Studies, which has pioneered and championed this area of study, with high-profile lectures and expert seminars since its foundation a decade ago. Since 2017 we have pursued an academic partnership with the University of Bolton in the UK, to develop research and teaching programmes to further study in this area, combining it with more elements from more traditional politics degrees.
This programme develops that agenda, and I hope it will help promote interest in examining how political institutions and the dynamics of political competition shape the political process and its outcomes. It is an exciting research agenda, and I look forward to hearing from those who want to be a part of it.
Dr Nigel Fletcher is the co-founder and Research Director of the Centre for Opposition Studies. He took his first degree in Politics at Queen Mary, University of London, and was awarded the Professor Lord Smith Prize for his undergraduate dissertation on the Conservative Party in Opposition. He then worked for over a decade as a political and policy adviser, working in the House of Commons, the London Assembly and the Conservative Research Department, where he was special adviser on education. In these roles he has at various times been an adviser to a number of senior politicians including three Prime Ministers – David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson.
He received his doctorate from King’s College London, where he now teaches on the Politics and Contemporary History MA course as a part-time Teaching Fellow. The relative lack of research on political opposition had prompted him to focus his PhD thesis on the history of the Official Opposition in the UK, and in 2010 he co-founded the Centre for Opposition Studies, as an independent research organisation devoted to promoting the study of the subject.
Dr Fletcher has written a number of book chapters and articles on British politics and edited the book ‘How to be in Opposition’ in 2011. His first monograph, based on his PhD thesis, is due for publication in 2021. He has appeared as an expert commentator on various broadcast outlets, and now hosts the Centre for Opposition Studies’ ‘OppositionCast’ podcast, which launched in summer 2020.
Our aim with this new programme is to put students at the forefront of research by encouraging PhD proposals with the potential to make a significant contribution to the academic literature on democratic political institutions and stimulate further study, particularly on aspects relating to political competition and opposition.
PhD candidates will be encouraged to develop a research profile and play an active role in promoting their work through engagement with other researchers and academics. Opportunities to participate in public seminars and other events will be made available, along with support to publish research papers and articles.
Supervision and support will be provided both in-person on campus and online, with academic staff whose research expertise gives them appropriate insight into the student’s topic. In addition, there will be the opportunity to participate in a bespoke programme of seminars and lectures organised by the Centre for Opposition Studies in the UK, involving leading experts and practitioners relevant to the subjects being studied.
All applicants to Hume must satisfy one of the following conditions in order to be considered for an interview with a Programme Director or Tutor.
1. A good Masters degree from a recognised university, OR
2. Ten or more years’ experience in a related area of work, plus an undergraduate degree of high standing.
In addition, in all cases where a student has not previously completed a degree (undergraduate or postgraduate) taught in English, it will be necessary to provide one of the following:
• IELTS – Overall score 6.5. No less than 6.0 in any section.
• TOEFL – Overall score 90 with minimum scores of 21 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.
• Pearson – 58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills
Duration for the full-time programme is normally 3 -4 four years with a fee of £12,000 per year;
Duration for the part-time programme is normally 5 -6 years for a fee of £6,000 per year.