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Democracy and Elections Centre

Democracy and Elections Centre

The Democracy and Elections Centre is a research group of political scientists specialising in the empirical study of democracy and elections, based in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London.

The Centre is home to a vibrant research community, studying and analysing democracy and elections in different parts of the world, including the UK, Europe, and the USA. The Centre offers a taught Masters in Elections, Campaigns and Democracy and PhD supervision.

Members of the centre are involved in a number of collaborative and funded projects, including the British Election Study, which is co-directed by Chris Prosser.

The Centre is also home to the journal Electoral Studies, which is edited by Oliver Heath and Kaat Smets.

Prof Oliver Heath

Professor of Politics. Research Interests: Brexit, elections, public opinion, class voting, quantitative methods.

Dr Kaat Smets

Senior Lecturer in Politics (Quantitative Methods). Research Interests: Political behaviour, political attitudes, turnout and age, quantitative methods.

Prof Chris Hanretty

Professor of Politics. Research Interests: Election forecasting, public opinion, courts, quantitative methods.

Dr Ursula Hackett

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Politics. Research Interests: American politics, public policy, education, qualitative methods.

Dr Nicholas Allen

Reader in Politics. Research Interests: British government, political integrity, ethics regulation and parliamentary misconduct.

Dr Cassilde Schwartz

Lecturer in Politics (Quantitative Methods). Research Interests: Protest, immigration, Latin America, field experiments.

Dr James Sloam
James Sloam 

Reader in Politics. Research Interests: Youth politics, European Social Democracy, Political Science Education, Citizenship.

Dr Giacomo Benedetto

Jean Monet Chair. Research interests: Budgets and revenue of the European Union, comparative parliamentary politics, comparative party politics and constitutional reform.

Dr Sofia Collignon

Lecturer in Political Communication. Research interests: framing contests in the formation of public opinion, the study of candidates, elections and parties, and harassment and intimidation of candidates. Her research is comparative in nature and she uses mainly quantitative methods. 



Dr Patten Smith

Director of Research Methods Centre at IPSOS Mori. Research Interests: Public opinion, survey design and methodology

Dr Judith Bara

Queen Mary, University of London. Research Interests: Ideology, policy, and political parties.

Professor Don Searing

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Research Interests: Political psychology, political elites, and comparative politics.

The Centre offers a new taught Masters stream in Elections, Campaigns and Democracy. This course is designed to better understand how modern election campaigns work, to identify what strategies have been employed, which have been successful, which have failed, and why. What explains the success of political outsiders and how best can mainstream parties respond? Why have recent results been so unpredictable? And how can we better track public opinion, forecast elections, and analyse voting behaviour?

Professor Chris Hanretty who teaches on the course, says “As the general election showed, understanding an election means understanding lots of different things, from turnout to candidates and campaigning, to voter behaviour. Royal Holloway has experts in each of these areas and the MSc provides the ideal launchpad for understanding elections in the UK and beyond."

The course has a strong practical component. Students will receive training in data analysis and have the opportunity to apply their skills in the commercial sector through a paid internship scheme with the polling and consultancy firm Survation.

Professor Oliver Heath, says, "Our partnership with Survation provides a unique opportunity for students to develop new skills in political risk analysis and data analysis and to gain experience putting these skills into practice." Students are eligible to apply for summer internships at Survation, which will last 6 weeks, and project based internships which are ongoing. All internships are paid the living wage.

In addition, paid research bursaries are available for students to work on research activities with members of staff through the Democracy and Elections Centre.

These initiatives are designed to give students practical experience and provide them with valuable skills for the job market after graduation, as well as prepare students for further academic study and doctoral research.

Staff members in the Centre also provide PhD supervision on a wide range of topics related to the study of democracy and elections. The Department of Politics and IR participates in the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) South-East Network for Social Sciences, a new Doctoral Training Partnership of ten universities. Studentship funding is available in the thematic area of politics.

In addition the Centre also provides funding for three fully-funded PhD studentships: one to work as an editorial assistant on the journal Electoral Studies, and two part-funded by Survation to work on survey design and the analysis of public opinion.

Elections, Public Opinion and Parties (EPOP) Conference 2018

The annual conference of the Elections, Public Opinion and Parties (EPOP) specialist group was held at Royal Holloway, University of London from 14-16 September 2018. Visit the EPOP 2018 page to read more. 


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