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Photo of Emeritus Professor Iain Hampsher-Monk

Emeritus Professor Iain Hampsher-Monk

I am a student of political theory. Although my training (PPE) was primarily analytical, my subsequent work has been mostly historically inflected. I have written a major overview of post-rennaissance European political thinkers : A History of Modern Political Thought , and founded (1980 ) and have since edited the journal History of Political Thought. I hae also been  involved in several collaborative international projects, The State and the Individual, Republicanism: A shared European Project. (both European Science Foundation), Freedom and the Foundation of Europe (Balzan Foundationo), Dutch Conceptual History (Erasmus Foundation).  Collaborative work - especially collaborative teaching has been the most enjoyable and rewarding aspect of my academic life.

Alongside my substantive historical work I have maintained a strong interest in methodological issues, and in the critical understanding of the role of rational models of explanation, and their tension with historical understanding. The intersection between history and philosophy seems to me to best characterise the intellectual space in which to conduct the study of politics.

I have been deeply committed throughout my career to building the size, reputation, and culture of the Department here in Exeter, especially in Political Theory. We have sustained a supportive environment and an eclectic (and therefore stimulating) range of approaches to our subject.


Research interests

 My research has focussed on the history of seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century political thought, especially radical political thought (the Levellers and the British radicals' reaction to the French Revolution) and the thought of Edmund Burke the comparative methodology of the history of ideas and the history of concepts (Begriffesgeschichte) and their modern use, particularly Citizenship, Toleration and Democracy.  I have also worked critically on the way in which economic concepts and reasoning have been deployed in contemporary political analysis, explanation and normative theory.

Research supervision

 I have supervised Master's and Doctoral degrees in many topics in the history and methodology of political theory, including the thought of Hobbes, the Levellers, Locke, Rousseau, Paine, Godwin, Kant, Marx, Collingwood, Trotsky and Mehdi Bazargin.

  Graduates have gone on to hold posts at major universities in the UK  (Oxford, Kings London, Hull, Exeter) USA (Berkeley, Syracuse) and in China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

External impact and engagement

 Advisor to two BBC series on the History of Political Thought.


I joined the Department in 1971 as part of its extension of Political Theory, following an undergraduate degree in PPE and research work with Bernard Crick.

In 1980, with Janet Coleman I founded, and have since edited, the Journal History of Political Thought which is consistently rated one of the top ten Politics journals worldwide.

1983-4  Visiting Professor, University of Missouri St Louis

1984   Academic advisor to  BBC radio series and book Political Thought from Plato to Nato translated into many languages

In 1993 my History of Modern Political Thought - major political thinkers from Hobbes to Marx was awarded the PSA McKenzie prize for the best politics book published by a British publisher .  It has since been translated into Spanish, Turkish and Chinese.

1994-5  Research Fellow Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Wassenaar (The Hague) and was thereafter member of the Netherlands research group on Conceptual History. 

1995 - Founding member of the Steering committee of the European Science Foundation funded network 'Republicanism: a shared European heritage'.

1995  Appointed Professor (personal chair) of Political Theory,  University of Exeter.

1996  member of UK Political Studies Association Executive and Academic convenor , PSA Annual Conference, 

1996  Erasmianum Ascension Lecturer (Netherlands)

1997-2000 External Examiner  M.Phil (Political Thought and intellectual history)  University of Cambridge

2000- 2001 British Academy Senior Research Fellow 

2001 and 2008 served on two RAE (precourser of the REF) panels

2006  Contributor ' to Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought. 

2007 - 2012  Convenor 'Oxford Political Thought Conference'  (Precursor to the Association for Political Thought)


Work has been translated into: Spanish, German, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Turkish.  

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