Picture of Dr Katharine Dommett

Dr Katharine Dommett

Senior Lecturer in the Public Understanding of Politics

Contact Details
Email: k.dommett@sheffield.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 1682
Room: 211, Elmfield Building


I am lecturer in the Public Understanding of Politics and Director of the Crick Centre. My research focuses on political parties, public opinion, digital campaigning and democratic politics.

I am currently the holder of an ESRC Future Leaders award for a project entitled 'Renewing Party Politics? Digital Innovations in Political Campaigning'. Focusing on UK political parties, the project examines how parties are using digital technology to connect with citizens. It also generates new data on public attitudes towards parties, looking at what citizens want from these organisations today.

I am also the holder of a British Academy Rising Star Award entitled 'The Challenges of Studying Political Campaigning in the Digital Realm’. This project studies digital election campaigning and the adoption of online tools by political campaigns. The project looks at the challenges recent innovations pose for data collection. Bringing together researchers, data scientists, political consultants, data targeting companies and other interested stakeholders at two workshops, participants will firstly consider barriers and implications, before secondly working to share and develop possible solutions to these barriers.

A key part of my research and teaching is my desire to engage with audiences beyond academia. My research works closely with UK Political Parties, YouGov, and the charity Involve and I also integrate practitioner perspectives into my teaching modules.

I have a range of media experience and have featured on BBC Radio 5Live, France 24, ITV Calendar, BBC Radio Wales and in the New Statesman and am happy to accept media requests.


My teaching philosophy is based on a belief in the value of curiosity. University offers students the chance to learn in a completely different way to school and college. Rather than being focused on the answers for exams and assessment, University allows us to develop our own thinking. I encourage my students to explore the way that they view the world, considering which side of political conflicts they stand, why they hold those positions, and why they might be right or wrong. Politics is about passion, conflict and ideas and I use my lectures and seminars to encourage students to explore their own opinions, discover new ideas and be curious about the way they world is run.

The study of politics is all about marshalling facts and ideas to make an argument, therefore I expect students to read widely. I encourage students to spend time browsing through the library and to bring their own ideas and questions to seminars to stimulate discussion. As a lecturer I do not profess to offer all the answers, rather I introduce ideas and debates that students have the freedom to explore. One of the most stimulating parts of being a lecturer is having the opportunity to hear new perspectives and ideas, and I find interactions with students provide a constant fuel for my own passion for the study of politics.

I am not teaching in 2018/19 but have previously taught on:

PhD Supervision

I am currently supervising the following students:

  • Primary Supervisor to Indra Mangule with Dr Alastair Cochrane – ‘Mainstreaming Deliberative Mechanisms: A Civic Republican approach’
  • Primary Supervisor to Gloria M Mensah with Dr Chris Jones and Professor Peter Styring – ‘Urea-ka! Public and political perceptions of carbon dioxide utilisation (CDU) in the manufacture of urea-based products’
  • Primary Supervisor to Robin Hughes with Professor Charles Pattie – ‘The Politics of Polling’, a collaborative WhiteRose Studentship with YouGov.
  • Secondary Supervisor to Emma LeVine with Dr. Jane Mulderrig - ‘Corpus-based critical discourse analysis of the political texts of the UK Independence Party, 1993-2015’.
  • Secondary Supervisor to Jason Leeman with Felicity Matthews - 'Local parties and participatory governance in English Local Councils.'

My research looks at the relationship between citizens and the state in contemporary democracies. I have a long standing interest in political parties and campaigning.

In my new ESRC Future Leaders project (2016-2018) I am examining the way in which political parties interact with citizens. Using a range of methods to monitor current practices in digital campaigning and the public’s perception of these interactions the project will tease apart the consequences of current practices. Through this work the project will build on existing theory around democratic linkage, and inform political parties campaigning strategies. Connected to this work, I am supervising a PhD studentship on the ‘Politics of Polling’ which examines how polling organizations operate and inform our understanding of what the public think.

In addition to this work I have an ongoing interest in digital technology and political campaigning. This work underpins my current British Academy Rising Star award and collaborations with Dr Tom Stafford (Psychology). I have a particular interest in how political parties are adopting digital technology, and how they are utilising tools such as Facebook advertising and organic message dissemination.

Key Projects

March 2018 British Academy Rising Stars The Challenges of Studying Political Campaigning in the Digital Realm £13,201.97
June 2017 ESRC Impact Accelerator Funding The Challenge of Party Membership £21,710
June 2016 ESRC Future Leaders Renewing Party Politics? Digital Innovations in Political Campaigning £185,372

View full list of publications

Key Publications

Invited Papers and Conference Participation

  • 'Dead and Buried or Worthy of Resurrection? Exploring Ideology in Party Politics', New Voices in Politics Seminar Series, Newcastle University.
  • Invited participant in workshop ‘Walking Away from Westminster? Public Service Trajectories in Comparative Perspective’ at Oxford University - in the new Blavatnik School of Government.
  • ‘Lessons from UK Public Bodies Reform’, presentation to civil servants in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
  • Invited panel participant, ‘Public Bodies Summit’, Cabinet Office, London.
  • ‘Are we in an Era of Evidence Based Policy Making?’, Science in Policy Conference, Sheffield.
  • Invited panellist, ‘Public Bodies Reform’, Civil Service Live Conference, London.
  • Invited participant for workshop ‘Post-Democratic Politics’ at Durham University.
Media Engagement

Examples of TV, radio and other media engagement include:

Back to top | Back to index of Academic Staff