Graham Harrison

Professor Graham Harrison


Contact Details
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 1686
Fax: +44 (0)114 222 1717
Room: G.59 Elmfield
Email :

External Links


Graham joined the Department in 1999 as Lecturer. Previously, he lectured in Politics at Queen Mary, University of London. He has developed a broad range of research and teaching interests around Africa, the political economy of development, governance, and representation. He has made numerous research visits to East Africa, picking up a fair use of Portuguese and some Kiswahili along the way. He is on the editorial board of the journals Review of African Political Economy and New Political Economy and is currently the department’s Director of Postgraduate Research.


I have never been taught Politics. I was an undergraduate in Geography and took an MA in Development Studies. My PhD was taken in a Politics department, but at that stage I was teaching and researching myself. In both of my taught degrees, I favoured the modules that were political: the political geography options and the political economy options in development. The reason for this is that I loved the opportunity to discuss politics. In politics seminars, there is always a sense of excitement based in the fact that ideas are never completely certain. This seemed very different from the more scientific modules based in Physical Geography and Economics. And, it is this sense of open and uncertain discussion that I aim to bring into my teaching – especially in seminars. I think that all ideas are valid and the best way to assess their merits is by relating them to others in an open discussion.

The great thing about this approach to teaching is that students are encouraged not only to become clearer and more sophisticated in the way they understand power, morals, institutions, political behaviour and so on. You, the students, also develop impressive skills in communication, group work, and your ability to manage information and argument.

I have taught a wide variety of modules over my eleven years in the Department, focused on the international politics aspect of the Department’s curriculum. I was awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in 2005.

My approach to teaching is based in developing a variety of learning activities - discussions, role play, debate, problem-solving, text analysis and so on - in order to make seminars stimulating and to allow students to develop a range to engage with the materials of the modules. I am happy to allow students to lead seminars, develop and follow ideas and discussions, and generally make seminars challenging but enjoyable.

In 2011/12, I am teaching the following modules:

  • POL217 The Global Political Economy
    This second year module explores the ways that we can understand the political economy of globalisation. It asks questions such as: what is the role of the state in globalisation? Does globalisation produce inequality? Why do economic crises happen? The module is examined through an essay and exam.
  • POL3001 The Political Economy of Africa
    This third year module reviews in some detail the political economy of African development. It considers the centrality of changing agrarian livelihoods within African economies, the problematic role of the state, and the various ways in which African political economies connect with broader aspects of global political economy. The module has a unique assessment profile of an essay and a seminar portfolio of work done throughout the module.
  • POL6870 Development Politics and Policy
    This MA module is one of two core modules for the Department's Globalisation and Development MA. The module looks in detail at development theories, paying particular attention to the political questions therein: the norms and values embedded within development speak, and the questions of who gets what when and how? The module also covers important development issues such as democracy, sustainability, and gender. The module is assessed through two essays.

All modules have a great emphasis on student-led teaching and learning. The latter two modules are entirely taught through group discussion and group work. The modules are supported with online resources.

Professor Graham Harrison discusses how the global financial crisis has affected Africa's political and economic development.

More Politics Brought to Life videos


Professor Harrison is currently writing a book titled 'The African Presence. Representation of Africa in the Construction of Britishness'. This explores the ways in which Africa is represented in Britain and particularly how these representations have centrally served to construct and reassert a sense of British national virtue. The books explores this through case studies of campaign organisations from abolitionism to Make Poverty History.

Graham is also developing research focussed on how we might understand and research African development. This involves thinking through the general development pessimism prevailing in political and academic communities and thinking beyond the general construction of development models based in the experiences of other parts of the world.


Key Publications

Professor Harrison is the author of five single-authored books:

He is the Editor of Global Encounters: International Political Economy, Development and Globalisation, Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2005.

He is the author of 22 refereed single-authored articles in leading journals (including Article of the Year in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 2006).

View full list of publications

PhD Supervison

Professor Harrison has supervised five PhDs to successful completion. He is currently supervising five PhDs on various topics, from anti-corruption reform in Brazil to the role of rights in African political thought. He welcomes PhD application in any aspect of African or development politics.

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