The research interests of the members of the Department of Political and Social Sciences (SPS) span across comparative politics, international relations, sociology, and social and political theory.
We focus on contemporary phenomena, at the national, sub-national and transnational level, mainly but not exclusively in Europe.
We support an eclectic approach to research projects and doctoral theses, often cutting across traditional academic boundaries. A variety of method courses and workshops on data gathering and analysis are available in the first two years—survey, experimental and ethnographic; quantitative and qualitative—while field-work and data collection normally take place in the second and third year.
Thesis of the month
Anna Kandyla on The Emperor’s New Clothes? Assessing the Democratic Value of the European Citizens’ Initiative
The European Union has long been accused of suffering from a democratic deficit. One of the reforms introduced with a view to helping tackle this deficit is the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). Ever since the ECI was introduced in the Treaty of Lisbon, it has been accompanied by buoyant democratic rhetoric. But, does the ECI indeed help enhance democracy in the EU? In this carefully argued thesis, Anna Kandyla provides a comprehensive answer to this question by bringing together normative democratic theory with an analysis of the ECI in practice. She develops three criteria against which the democratic quality of the ECI is empirically assessed: (1) equal and inclusive participation, (2) openness and group access to the agenda, and (3) impact on the EU legislative agenda ... View more