Nicholas Cheeseman


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Professor Cheeseman is interested in supervising doctoral research on elections, democracy, political parties, social media, populism, corruption, taxation and the social contract, sub-Saharan Africa.


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Personal profile

Research interests

Professor Cheeseman mainly works on democracy, elections and development and has conducted in-country research in a range of African states including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

His recent books have looked at the moral economy of elections in Africa, how to rig an election, and the foundations of authoritarian rule - paying particular attention to the role of ideas.

Previous books focussed on the importance of political institutions in processes of democratization and presidential coalition formation in nine countries in Latin America, post-communist Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.

A political scientist by training, Professor Cheeseman also works on a number of topics within Development Studies, including decentralization, taxation, foreign aid, the formation of social contracts, and gender equality/women's political representation.

In the academic year 2021/2022 Professor Cheeseman will be on leave after being awarded a British Academy Fellowship to research the history and impact of African political thought. 





Nic Cheeseman (@fromagehomme) is Professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham and was formerly the Director of the African Studies Centre at Oxford University. He mainly works on democracy, elections and development and has conducted in-country research in a range of African countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, but has also published on Latin America and post-communist Europe.

The articles that he has published based on this research have won a number of prizes including the GIGA award for the best article in Comparative Area Studies (2013) and the Frank Cass Award for the best article in Democratization (2015). Professor Cheeseman is also the author or editor of more than ten books, including Democracy in Africa (2015), Institutions and Democracy in Africa (2017), How to Rig an Election (2018), and Coalitional Presidentialism in Comparative Perspective (2018), Authoritarian Africa (2020), The Moral Economy of Elections in Africa (2020) and the Handbook of Kenyan Politics (2020). In addition, he is the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics, a former editor of the journal African Affairs, and an advisor to, and writer for, the African Progress Panel set up by Kofi Anan. As of 2017 hs also serves on the board of Oxfam GB, and sits on the organization's Programme Committee, which provides input and advice to the programmes and projects that Oxfam GB supports around the world.

In recognition of this academic and public contribution, the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom awarded him the prestigious Joni Lovenduski Prize for outstanding professional achievement by a midcareer scholar in 2019. The same year, he was a finalist in the ESRC’s prestigious Celebrating Impact prize. A frequent commentator of African and global events, Professor Cheeseman is a regular guest on CNN's new flagship global affairs show One World, while his analysis has appeared in the Economist, Le Monde, Financial Times, Newsweek, the Washington Post, New York Times, BBC, and the Daily Nation, as well as his regular columns for the Mail & Guardian and The Africa Report. In total, his articles have been read over two million times. Many of his interviews and insights can be found on the website that he founded and co-edits, Most recently, Professor Cheeseman was part of the team that launched the Resistance Bureau, a new webinar and discussion space that brings together speakers from across Africa to discuss how democracy and freedom can best be strengthened and defended. Check out for more details and past episodes.

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 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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