Political Theory at Oxford


Political Theory is the study of what others have thought about the nature of politics and the values it can and should realise, and also is a first-hand engagement in making arguments about the central values and concerns of politics.

The University of Oxford is a world centre for the study of political theory and its scholars have profoundly influenced the way in which the subject is practised across the world. Our expertise combines analytic, critical and historical political thought. DPIR alumni teach the subject in university departments across the world and occupy positions of leadership in public and private institutions.

Political theory has a prominent position in the BA degrees Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and History and Politics. The MPhil in Political Theory gives in-depth training in research methods and in the historical, critical and the first-order normative aspects of the subject. Many of our MPhil students continue to the DPhil in Politics, to research political theory at doctoral level.

The wide network of academics who work broadly in the field of political theory and philosophy includes colleagues from the Faculties of Law, Philosophy, and History, and Political Theorists link with other departments and research centres such as the Oxford Department of International Development, the Refugee Studies Centre, and the Oxford Internet Institute. The Oxford Political Theory Network and the History of Political Thought Research Network organise regular seminars and colloquia for staff and students at all levels. Graduate students have opportunities to present their own work, discuss the work of visiting speakers and gain experience in organisation and chairing.

The Oxford Political Theory Network, and the History of Political Thought Research Network welcome many visitors, both doctoral students and senior academics, who participate in seminars, colloquia and conferences, engage with students, and who contribute to Oxford’s superb research environment.


Oxford political theorists David Leopold and Marc Stears co-edited
Political Theory: Methods and Approaches (OUP, 2008) which sets out the plurality of methodological approaches to political theory that are represented in the Department.