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Political Theory

Subject Representative Professor Vincent Geoghegan

Political Theory has always been a very strong area of research at Queens, and has featured as a key element in all of our RAE returns. Furthermore with 6 specialist political theorists we have one of the largest concentrations of this field in the whole of the UK. The members of the Political Theory research subject area have a wide range of research interests which are drawn from both the Anglo-American and Continental schools of thought; these include the history of political thought, utopian political theory, contemporary political philosophy, Green political thought, poststructuralism, democratic political theory, and the politics of recognition. The research subject area holds regular seminars featuring both internal and external speakers, and has a flourishing group of postgraduates on both taught and research degrees.

Members of the research subject area:

John Barry
Keith Breen
Vincent Geoghegan
Cillian McBride
Susan McManus
Shane O'Neill

Members of staff with a secondary association to the research subject area:

Stefan Andreasson
Dan Bulley
Debbie Lisle
Jeremy Watkins

Research students assocated with the research subject area:  

  • Tom Loonam
  • Damien Luther
  • Esmorie Miller
  • Ciarán McKenna
  • Michael Snyder
  • Wayne Foord
  • Lutz Fricke

Political Theory Workshops/Reading Group

Cillian McBride convenes a reading group for postgraduate students in political theory/political philosophy which meets regularly throughout the academic year and which alternates with the political theory workshop at which research students have an opportunity to discuss their work with their peers. Contact for details of the current programme.

In 2008 Political Theory research students organised a conference on the theme of Transformation: the Dynamics of (Radical) Change 

Political Theory Seminar Series 

Onni Hirvonen (Macquarie University), A Critical Appraisal of Axel Honneth's Social Ontology 

Friday June 22nd, 2-4.00pm 19.103

Dr Ronald Tinnevelt (Nijmegen) The Social Function of Agonism: A General Outline of a Deliberative Democratic Theory of Political Parties.

Friday November 4 2011, 3.00pm, Conference Room (20.103)

Professor Majid Yar (Hull), Crime as a Problem of Misrecognition? An Experimental Dialogue Between Political Theory and Criminology

Friday October 14th 2011,  3.00pm, Conference Room (20.103)

All Welcome

Research and Events

Association for Legal and Social Philosophy Annual Conference

Keith Breen and Cillian McBride are organising the annual conference of the ASLP on the theme of 'Freedom' on June 25-7th 2012.

Plenary Speakers: Professor Philip Pettit (Princeton) and Professor Richard Bellamy (UCL)

Paper and panel proposals on any aspect of contemporary legal, social, moral, and political philosophy/theory are welcomed but preference will be given to those explicitly addressing the conference theme: 'Freedom':

Freedom as non-domination; Two concepts of liberty?; The relationship between personal and political autonomy; Individual and collective agency; Freedom of expression; Individual liberty and democratic politics; Recognition and the conditions of agency; The concept of a free society; Freedom and equality; Freedom of association; Political and economic freedoms; Autonomy in the workplace/workplace democracy; Institutionalizing political freedom

Please contact the organisers for further information

Vincent Geoghegan, Research Director of the Political Theory research subject area, is the Principal Investigator in QUB’s share of a large European Union Marie-Curie-Initial Training Network grant on the theme of Global History. The school will receive £148,149 over four years, and will supervise a PhD Fellowship to be awarded to a non-UK student. 14 such fellowships are to be awarded under the scheme, with partner institutions in Germany, Portugal, France, Poland, Republic of Ireland, Turkey and Spain. The extra-European associated partners are in Hong Kong, Senegal, Argentina and Brazil, with four non-academic partner institutions, Institutio Cervantes, Institut Français, Goethe-Institut and the British Council. The total grant is 2,643,956 euros. The PhD Fellowship has been awarded to Lutz Fricke, a philosophy student from the Technical University of Berlin, who has now moved to Belfast to commence his studies at QUB. His thesis is on the concept of ‘normalcy’

Political Theory Workshops/Symposia

Members of the Political Theory research subject area regularly organise workshops and symposia on themes related to their research:

The Political Theory Research Cluster, in association with the Philosophy Research Cluster, hosted a workshop on Philip Pettit's work on Group Agents in June 2010. Professor Pettit is currently a visiting professor at the School.

Shane O’Neill  and Cillian McBride  recently coordinated an ESRC Seminar Series on The Politics of Recognition and the Dynamics of Social Conflict . The final workshop in this series, on the theme of Rethinking Recognition took place in June 2009.

Post-Secularism and Contemporary Society


Ethics and Meaningful Work symposium

Beyond the Nation conference

Recognition, Equality, and Democracy workshop

Democracy, Division, and the Public Sphere workshop

Recognition: Ethics, Politics, and Philosophy workshop