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Photo of Professor Iain Hampsher-Monk

Professor Iain Hampsher-Monk

BA (Keele), FSA (Scotland)

Professor of Political Theory, Joint Editor of History of Political Thought


01392 723172

Amory B211

I have taught and researched political theory at Exeter the USA, and the Netherlands since 1971.  Janet Coleman and I founded the top-ranked journal History of Political Thought here in 1980 and I have continued to edit its post1600 submssions ever since. In 1992 I wrote the PSA Mckenzie Prize-winning - A History of Modern Political Thought (Blackwell), now in its eleventh re-printing, and translated into Spanish, Chinese, and Turkish.

 I have interests in all areas of political theory.   My main research focus lies in early-modern European political thought and discourse, in particular, in republican thought and its naturalisation in British political thinking, in British seventeenth and eighteenth-century radicalism, the political thought of Edmund Burke and his contemporaries, and in methodological problems associated with the history and understanding of the political thought of the past and its relationship to contemporary political theorising. However, I have also worked on and published on aspects of contemporary political thought, particularly in areas associated with democratic theory, toleration and theories of equality, and in the application of economic thinking to political understanding and analysis. I am currently working on the role of Rhetoric in relation to the conduct of politics

My postgraduate supervision has included many of these areas as well as theses on the thought of figures well outside it such as that of Leon Trotsky and the Iranian politician and writer, Mehdi Bazargan- a fuller list on my research tab.

The comparative stiudy of political theorising - now a major interest in the department was pioneered by the work edited by myself and my colleague Dario Castiglione: History of Political Thought in Comparative Perspetive (CUP), My international research links have been more with Europe than with the Anglophone world with particularly strong links with the Intellectual history research programme at the European University Institute in Florence. I was an initiator and steering committee member of the European Science Foundation Network  on European Republicanism which resulted in Republicanism A shared European Heritage, ed. van-Gelderen and Skinner (2vols) CUP, The Demands of Citizenship ed. McKinnon and Hampsher-Monk, Palgrave, and Republican Founding ed. Bodeker, Larrere and Comparato, Olshki (still forthcoming), to each of which I also contributed.  My invovlement with national political theory projects modelled on the German genre of conceptual history Begriffsgeschichte in the Netherlands and Finland produced the collaborative publication Conceptual History: Comparative Perspectives  (Amsterdam UP) with subsequent Chinese Translation.    

Recent personal projects have included the Cambridge UP edition of Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France [Revolutionary Writings ]  and contributions to the Cambride Companion to Burke (2012), and several other edited collections, and reviews, a collection of my articles on methodology and philosophy of social science Concepts and Reason in Political Theory (ECPR 2015). I am currently working on the relationship between Rhetoric and Politics. 

Research group links

Research interests

My general research interests are in the history of political thought, particularly, but not exclusively in the C17th and C18th and in the methodology of the history of political ideas, in contemporary political theory, especially aspects of the market and toleration, and the methodology of social explanation.

More generally, in the field of methodology I am interested in relations between the history of political discourses and the emerging Anglophone field of conceptual history, and in pursuing the relationship between the history of political thought and the activity of political theorising itself. In this respect my current thinking is focussed on the relationship between Rhetorica nd Politics.  The excitingly diverse political theory group at Exeter expect to be exploring, with others, not only the interface between our different approaches, which largely reflects the diversity within the field at large, but the relationship between different world traditions and languages of politics and the difficulties of cultural transfer.

Research supervision

I am interested in supervising in most areas of the history of political thought – especially, but not exclusively the early modern period, but also in methodological issues in the history of political thought and in selected aspects of contemporary political philosophy.

Previous research topics supervised include:

The Political Ideas of Mehdi Bazargan

Trotsky and the Trades Unions

Hobbes's Dialogue between a philosopher and a student of the Common Law of England

Multiculturalism and the Liberal State

The will in the contract theory of Locke and Rousseau

Averroes and Kant as exemplars of enlightenment thinking

History as Magistra Vitae : the idea of history as a spur to political action

Political thought of RG Collingwood

Just War theory in renaissance and reformation.

Hobbes's influence on Rousseau

Alienated Politics in the thought of Karl Marx



Research students

I am now Emeritus but may be available for co-supervision of Ph.D. students:

Previous students have gone on to academic posts at Kings College (London), Univerisites of Hull, Oxford, Exeter, ANU, King Saud University, and Universities of Ankara and Kyungpook (S.Korea).

Other information

Administrative duties
Academic Lead (Political Theory and IR)

External Positions

Iain Hampsher-Monk has recently been: a Member of the Steering Committee, European Science Foundation Network on European Republicanism; a Research Fellow, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study; and was a Panel Member, Politics and International Relations, RAE 2001 and RAE 2008.

He has been Postgraduate External examiner for the Universities of Cambridge, London (LSE, U.C.), Oxford, Utrecht, etc.

 He is currently:

Convener and Member of Executive of Political Thought Conference (Oxford)
Member of the Executive of the Standing Conference for the Study of Political Theory (USA)

Member of the International History of Political and Social Concepts Group


Modules taught


I attended St Marylebone Grammar School in central London and studied Politics Philosophy and Economics at the University of Keele (1965-69), and 'The Concept of Democracy' with Bernard Crick at the University of Sheffield (1969-71). Following a number of excavations in the 1960s I briefly considered a career as a field archaeologist before joining the Department at Exeter as a lecturer in political theory in 1971. I've held visiting posts at the University of Missouri, St Louis and at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (Wassenaar, Den Hague). Since 1995 I have been Professor of Political Theory at Exeter, specialising in the history of political thought and contemporary political theory. Between 1996 and 2000 I was head of the Department of Politics. Since then until 2009 I was Director of Research in the Department. I was a member of the Politics and IR Panel for the RAE2001 and RAE2008. I have been external examiner for taught courses at the Universities of Lancaster, LSE and Cambridge (twice), and examined Doctorates at many English Universities including  UCL, LSE and Cambridge and abroad at the Sorbonne, European University Institute and the Universities of Utrecht, Tampere etc. In 2017I was awarded an Emeritus Chair, from which position I shal retain my interests in and actiivty with the Centre.  

In 1980, with Janet Coleman, now Professor Political Theory at LSE, I founded and have since edited the journal History of Political Thought which is recognised as the premier journal in its field worldwide.

I've published widely in the field of the history of political thought (Historical Journal, British Journal of Political Science, Political Studies, Journal of British Studies, European Journal of Political Thought, Enlightenment and DIssent, Cambridge History of EIghteenth Century Political Thought, etc. and to a lesser extent in contemporary political thought, and my work has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and Korean.

Since the late 1980s I've been increasingly involved in a range of international collaborative projects including two European Science Foundation networks, one as contributor to The Origins of the Modern European State, and one as founder and member of the steering committee of Republicanism: a Shared European Heritage. Both projects led to major publications. Following my period at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study I've also been closely involved with the Dutch National Conceptual History Project, (jt. ed. Conceptual history: comparative perspectives (Amsterdam, 1998) and latterly with the International Political and Social Concepts Group. I continue to be involved in research on Republican themes, most recently through the Venice International University's Republics and Republicanism Conference (2019) whose procedings I am currently editing.


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