Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Catherine is an experienced supervisor of doctoral students, and has supported many of her student to secure funded studentships.

Catherine is happy to work with prospective students to develop their research proposal, and is interested in supervising doctoral work across a range of concerns with substantive, theoretical, or methodological connections with her own research.

Current doctoral supervision:

Adriana Algarin Castillo: social accountability in Colombia (funded by Colciencias)

Matthew McKenna: blame avoidance in UK central-local relations (ESRC 1+3 studentship)

Andrew Tangang: decentralisation and community government in Cameroon (Shaun Johnson Memorial Scholarship)

Sally Ward: self-organisation and mobilisation in under-represented communities

Mega Waty: street level bureaucracy in Indonesian poverty relief programmes (funded by the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education, LPDP)


Research activity per year

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Personal profile


Catherine was the recipient of the Joni Lovenduski Prize for Outstanding Professional Achievement in a Mid-Career Scholar in 2020, awarded by the UK’s Political Studies Association. She is Chair of the Editorial Board for Local Government Studies.

Catherine’s research is interdisciplinary, spanning political science, public policy and urban studies. Catherine has published widely in leading peer-reviewed academic journals, including Political Studies, Governance, Public Administration Review and Urban Studies. She has been involved in securing and delivering research awards in excess of £3 million, from funders including UKRI.

She is well-known for her work on co-production (Designing public policy for co-production: theory, practice and change, 2016, Policy Press with Liz Richardson), and has written for Nature on how the academy can better acknowledge and value co-production in research.

Catherine is currently working to disseminate the findings from two major research awards on social innovation and co-production in urban governance: the ESRC/ Mistra Urban Futures project, ‘Jam and Justice’, and Joint Partnership Initiative Urban Europe/ ESRC project, ‘Smart Urban Intermediaries’. In parallel, she is undertaking new research on institutional design and change in urban governance, governance of the new commons, and the role of design in policy-making. These interests inform her teaching across INLOGOV’s innovative range of post-graduate programmes in public management.

In addition to her research and teaching, Catherine has held International Visiting Research Fellowships at the Great Cities Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the Institute for Governance and Policy at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Tilburg University’s School of Politics and Public Administration, and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG). Catherine acts as a mentor as part of various University of Birmingham and external initiatives. She has consulted to the UK government and Equality and Human Rights Commission.


Research interests

Catherine has forged an international profile for her work on street-level bureaucracy, new public governance, decentralisation, policy design, social and democratic innovation, citizen participation, and co-production. Her work has sought to understand and interrogate how government interacts with citizens and communities, and how these relationships are framed and interpreted, in order to advance or inhibit social and policy change. Empirically, Catherine’s work has been particularly focused at urban, city-regional, local, and neighbourhood levels, as important sites for government intervention and community action. In policy terms, her research has examined how to foster creative, participative and inclusive responses to address governance challenges.

Catherine is a methodological pluralist with particular expertise in qualitative, participatory and qualiquantological methods for research and analysis.

Catherine is currently researching co-production in urban governance (with Beth Perry, University of Sheffield, and Liz Richardson, University of Manchester), drawing on the Jam and Justice project. Research findings have been published in various journals, including Nature, Social Policy & Administration, and the International Journal of Social Research Methodology.

Catherine is also undertaking work on the practices of social innovation, building on the Smart Intermediaries project (with Merlijn van Hulst, Tilburg University, Oliver Escobar, University of Edinburgh, Annika Agger, Roskilde University, and Mark van Ostaijen, Erasmus University, Rotterdam). Research findings so far have been published in Public Administration Review and Urban Studies.

Catherine is continuing to work with Vivien Lowndes (University of Birmingham) on institutionalism in urban governance and public policy. They recently published in Environment and Planning C on ‘incompleteness’ in institutional design in the context of sub-regional devolution in England, and are now continuing their collaboration by looking at the intersection between street level bureaucracy and feminist institutionalism in the context of the campaign to reclassify misogyny as a hate crime in England.

Catherine is also working with Liz Richardson (University of Manchester) and Matt Ryan (University of Southampton) on governance and institutional design in the emergent commons for housing, energy and data. Pilot work has now been published in the International Journal of the Commons.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • JA Political science (General)


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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