Research projects

Democracy in Africa

This ambitious project provides the first comprehensive overview of the history of democracy in Africa, explaining why the continent’s democratic experiments have so often failed, as well as how they could succeed. The project grapples with some of the most important questions facing Africa and democracy today, including whether international actors should try and promote democracy abroad, how to design political systems that manage ethnic diversity, and why democratic governments often make bad policy decisions.

Political Economy of Democracy Promotion

The Political Economy of Democracy Promotion project is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) – the main democracy promotion organisation of the UK. The project combines the analytical strengths of academic researchers with the practical experience of WFD. It will identify when democracy promotion activities are most successful, and examine how democracy promotion can be improved.

The Impact of Elections Project

This major research project aims to break new ground by addressing the role of popular ideas about the (im)morality of electoral (mal)practice. Seeking to move beyond a literature that has generally focused on the way in which ruling parties have sought to manipulate elections, we are investigating the extent to which electoral practice has been both driven, and constrained, by popular expectations and demands.

The Life and Times of Bram Fischer

This memorial lecture series has been hosted by Rhodes House since 2011. The lecture is organised by a committee that includes Prof Nic Cheeseman, Lord Joffe, Dr Yvonne Malan, and the Warden of Rhodes House.

The Coalitional Presidentialism Project

This project examines the dynamics of executive-legislative relations . It is motivated by the surprising sustainability of multiparty presidentialism in Africa, Latin America, and post communist Europe, where – despite predictions to the contrary – presidents have been remarkably successful at winning legislative support from fragmented legislatures.

The Media, Conflict and Democratization (MeCoDem) Project

The MeCoDem Project investigates the role of traditional media and ICTs in conflicts that accompany – and follow – democratic transitions. It spans fours countries – Egypt, Kenya, Serbia and South Africa – and is funded by the European Union within the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme.


Recent funding awards include:

2016 Awarded an £7,500 ESRC Impact Award to develop Global Challenges Research Fund activities for a project on the impact of everyday violence on attitudes to violence and identity in Nigeria [with Lauren Harrison]

2015 Awarded £50,000 by the ESRC Impact Acceleration scheme to lead a project including DFID Kenya, the World Bank, OXFAM and the governments of Cape Town, Lagos and Nairobi

2014 Part of the MeCoDem research consortium awarded over Euro 2.2 million by the ERC to research the relationship between media, conflict and democratization, led by Leeds University

2013 Awarded over £800,000 [with Gabrielle Lynch and Justin Willis] to study elections and electoral manipulation in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda by the Economic and Social Research Council

2012 Awarded £125,000 for research on taxation and the social contract in Lagos, Nigeria, including survey analysis, as part of the DFID funded Improving Institutions for Growth project of the Centre for the Study of African Economies. Subsequently formed a two-year collaboration with the Lagos State Government worth a further $150,000.

2012 Awarded over £140,000 [with Gabrielle Lynch and Justin Willis] by the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool of the UK government and the Economic and Social Research Council in matched funding to lead and share the findings of an ‘Early Warning and Long-term Monitoring’ research project

2012 Awarded over £700,000 [with Tim Power and Paul Chaisty] for a research project on Coalitional Presidentialism in Latin America, Africa and the former Soviet Union (2011-2014) by the Economic and Social Research Council

2011 Awarded £7,500 [with Tim Power and Paul Chaisty] or a research project on Coalitional Presidentialism in Latin America, Africa and the former Soviet Union by the John Fell Fund of Oxford University

2009 Awarded £2,500 for research on coalitions and electoral politics in Africa by the Major Grats Fund of Jesus College, Oxford University