Students Staff

04 February 2014

Royal recognition for Essex expert on British politics

Professor David Sanders

Our Regius Professor David Sanders

Internationally-renowned expert on British politics, Professor David Sanders, has been appointed the UK’s first Regius Professor of Political Science.

The honour, conferred on the University of Essex by Her Majesty The Queen, to mark her Diamond Jubilee, recognises 50 years of excellence in research and education in politics at Essex. One of the youngest universities ever to receive this accolade, Essex also becomes one of just two UK universities to receive Regius Professorships in social science.

Professor Sanders has been a key figure in the achievements of Essex’s Department of Government, which has topped the UK politics rankings for the quality of its research in every national research assessment in the last 25 years.

After studying at Essex as a postgraduate student, Professor Sanders started teaching politics at the University in 1975. He is author of numerous influential books and articles on UK politics, including Lawmaking and Cooperation in International Politics, 1986 and Losing an Empire, Finding a Role, 1990. He co-authored Political Choice in Britain, 2004, Performance Politics and the British Voter, 2009, Affluence, Austerity and Electoral Change in Britain, 2013 and The Political Integration of Ethnic Minorities in Britain, 2013.

He also co-edited the top UK political science journal, the British Journal of Political Science, between 1990 and 2008.

Professor Sanders is a Fellow of the British Academy and received a Special Recognition Award from the Political Studies Association in 2012 for his commitment to outstanding research which has shaped public understanding of politics. From 2000-2012 he was a Principal Investigator for the British Election Study, which is conducted at every General Election to study electoral behaviour and how elections contribute to the operation of our democracy. This prestigious study was based at Essex from 1974 to 1983, and from 2000 to 2012.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, Professor Anthony Forster, said: “David Sanders has been integral to establishing our Department of Government as the best in the UK, and he has played a pivotal role in the development and expansion of the discipline of electoral studies in Britain and Europe. We are delighted to have been able to appoint David as our Regius Professor in recognition of his sustained and outstanding intellectual contribution to the study and understanding of this field.”

Essex politics graduate and Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, said: “I am delighted to congratulate Professor David Sanders on his appointment as Regius Professor. David has been at the heart both of Essex’s success as the leading UK University for political science and of its international reputation for excellence.

“His contribution to our understanding of British politics, through his research and teaching and his role for many years as a leading investigator on the British Election Study, is immense.

“For my part, I benefited hugely from his teaching three decades ago and I have always been grateful to him for informing, encouraging and inspiring me. A fine academic and a delightful guy, David really deserves his appointment and I wish him every success as Regius Professor.”

Professor Sanders said: “In Essex’s 50th anniversary year, this award is recognition for the pioneering team of political scientists who have staffed the department since its inception, and with whom I have been privileged to work. Since founding professor Jean Blondel established politics at Essex, some of the brightest minds have been drawn to Essex to work together to modernise the subject, recognising the importance of surveys and statistics in understanding modern political behaviour.”

President of the Students’ Union, Becky Fisher, said: “On behalf of all our students I would like to extend my congratulations to David on receiving this prestigious accolade. We are extremely lucky to have such an outstanding academic at our institution who has offered an exceptional level of teaching to our students throughout his career.”

The Department of Government at the University of Essex obtains consistently high student satisfaction scores, with an overall satisfaction rate of 94% in 2013. It has been at the forefront of innovation with initiatives such as the Essex Summer  School in Social Science Data Analysis, now in its 46th year and the largest and most successful in the world. Essex is also the home for the European Consortium for Political Research, which promotes international collaboration among more than 400 European institutions.

In addition to Professor Sanders, three academics in the University’s Department of Government are Fellows of the British Academy. Recent awards to members of the department include a Lifetime Achievement Award to Professor Ian Budge from the European Consortium for Political Research, recognising his exceptional contribution to European political science over several decades, and a Special Recognition Award from the Political Studies Association for Professor Vicky Randall.


Notes to editors

About Regius Professorships: Twelve Regius Professorships were announced last year for 12 different subjects to universities around the UK, recognising “outstanding” departments. These were awarded to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Prior to these awards, only two Regius Professorships had been awarded in the last century, and Regius Professorships had been limited to the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Trinity College, Dublin. 

Professor Sanders was chosen to hold the position at Essex following a comprehensive selection procedure, agreed by the University’s Senate, involving external representation.

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