Photograph of Dr Matthews

Dr Felicity Matthews

Senior Lecturer in Governance and Public Policy

Contact Details
Telephone: +44 (0)114 2221651
Fax: +44 (0)114 222 1717
Room: 2:03


Dr Matthews joined the Department of Politics in 2012 as Lecturer in Governance and Public Policy, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2013. She has previously been a member of the Department of Politics at the University of York as a Lecturer in Public Policy; held a Leverhulme Fellowship in the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield; and was awarded an ESRC-funded Post Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Exeter. She was awarded her PhD from the University of Sheffield in 2008, which considered the ability of national governments to exercise their strategic capacity and steer the policy process, analysing the extent to which this has declined or been re-shaped in recent decades. Her doctoral thesis was awarded the Sir Walter Bagehot Prize by the Political Studies Association of the UK in 2008.

Professional activities and recognition

  • Co-Editor of Policy and Politics
  • Advises a range of national governments and non-governmental organisations in different national contexts and is engaged in knowledge transfer and the dissemination of best practice
  • National media profile, including BBC radio, The Guardian and leading politics blogs
  • Holds a number of academic peer review roles including membership of the ESRC Peer Review College.

As a lecturer and active researcher, I relish the opportunity to teach students and to share my passion for the discipline. My teaching is closely aligned to my research interests and courses that I have taught have focused on the role and operation of government; British politics; and policy-making and implementation. I seek to enthuse students and use a range of devised a range of innovative teaching techniques, including research-based seminar tasks, real-time case studies, mock scenarios, videos and music.

I am the module leader for POL113 Introduction to Political Analysis. This is a core module that provides students with an introduction to the theories, methods and approaches which shape political analysis. The module encourages students to reflect on how they interpret and define political events. This involves exploring the relationship between knowledge, its validation and the methods we use to collect information. In teaching this module, I encourage students to think critically about many of the assumptions that they have about key concepts such as democracy, power and the nature of politics itself – which often leads to lively debates in seminars for all to take part in!

I co-lecture on POL115 Consensus, Crisis and Coalition: Introduction to British Politics. This is a new first year module, which explores the development of British politics through the lens of Prime Ministerial power. I love teaching this module! It offers students an exciting, vivid and intellectually engaging account of British politics since 1945 and provides the opportunity for students to immerse themselves in key debates and controversies.

I have also introduced a new module called POL231 Never Mind the Ballots! State and Society in the UK Today. This module picks up where POL115 left off, and explores changing state-society relationships across the UK, and their impact on government institutions. In this module, I encourage students to think about the relationship between governing myths and governing realities, and the impact that perceptions of where power lies has on the actions of political actors.

Finally, I am also responsible for supervising undergraduate projects and dissertations, MA dissertations and for supervising PhD students working on a range of exciting projects.

PhD Supervision

I have supervised research students who work in diverse fields including European energy policy; Korean public management reform; Taiwanese environmental governance; participatory governance in India; the utilisation of evidence-based research in the context of post-conflict state building; and the regulation and scrutiny of ministerial appointments.

I am keen to supervise research students who in the following areas: government and governance; state capacity; policy design and implementation delivery; citizen engagement; political leadership; and British politics.


Through critical engagement with theories of governance and state capacity, my research has challenged prevailing assumptions and advanced scholarly debate regarding the existence of a so-called hollow state, countering arguments that the sovereignty and agency of national governments have been eroded by external forces. I have specified the resources and assets that constitute the ‘capacity’ of national executives and how these equip them to respond to key contemporary governing challenges, such as climate change.

My work demonstrates that national governments are far from ‘hollow’ as they still possess unique resources – democratic legitimacy, access to the key organs of the state, prominence on the world stage – enabling them to preserve their centrality in the policy process; and also identifies the new tools of strategic governance that have been developed to consolidate this position.

I have previously secured support from the Leverhulme Trust, ESRC and British Academy for this work, which brings together three hitherto separate strands of scholarship: executive politics, public administration and constitutional politics.

Key Projects and Grants

Awarding Body: The British Academy

People Involved: Felicity Matthews
Title of Research: ‘Constitutional Crossroads and Coalition Politics’ – Grant Ref. No. SG131355
Years funded: 2014-15
Total award: £7,999

Awarding Body: The Leverhulme Trust
People Involved: Felicity Matthews
Title of Research: ‘Governing climate change in an era of uncertainty – the political, economic and social imperatives of delivery’ – Grant Ref. No. ECF/2009/022
Years funded: 2009-11
Total award: £44,458.00

Awarding Body: ESRC
People Involved: Felicity Matthews
Title of Research: ‘Steering the British State: Emerging Patterns of Governance, the Strategic Capacity of the Centre and the Public Service Agreement Framework’ – Grant Ref. No. PTA-026-27-1718
Years funded: 2008-9
Total award: £62,311.88


Key Publications

View full list of publications

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