Academic Staff: Katharine Dommett

Picture of Dr Katharine DommettDr Katharine Dommett, BA (Hons), MA (Distinction), PhD (University of Sheffield) 

Lecturer in the Public Understanding of Politics
Deputy Director of the Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics

Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 1682
Room: 211



Katharine is lecturer in the Public Understanding of Politics and Deputy Director of the newly created Sir Bernard Crick Centre within the Department for Politics. This is the world’s first research centre for the study and promotion of the public understanding of politics (for more see: Within the Centre Katharine leads a research strand on Political Institutions and Democratic Reform, and has developed training courses for practitioners and academics designed to promote and enhance political engagement.

Katharine joined the Department in August 2012 as a Research Fellow on the ESRC funded project ‘Shrinking the State’. She completed her doctorate in 2012 which explored ideology, processes of ideological change and modernisation in relation to contemporary political parties.

In terms of research, Katharine is particularly interested in politics as a practical activity. This motivates an interest in political parties, political ideology, political institutions, new democratic innovations and political communication.

Current Research

Currently I am interested in the challenges political disengagement and disaffection pose for contemporary democracy. It is widely acknowledged that levels of political engagement are falling, and that many traditional political institutions are facing a democratic deficit. In this context I am interested in the notion of democratic renewal, considering whether established institutions, specifically political parties and the NHS, can be revitalised to encourage greater democratic participation. Working alongside practitioners my research therefore evaluates whether traditional power structures can be adapted to promote a more inclusive, democratic politics.


My teaching philosophy is based on a belief in 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 the 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 currently teach on two modules:


  • Dommett, K. ‘Ideological Quietism? Ideology and Party Politics in Britain’, forthcoming.
  • Dommett, K. and Flinders, M. ‘The Centre Strikes Back’, Public Administration, forthcoming.
  • Dommett, K. and Skelcher, C. ‘The Micro-Politics of Agency Survival: A Strategic-Relational Analysis of Quango Reform in UK Government’, International Public Management Journal, forthcoming.
  • Dommett, K., Flinders, M., Skelcher, C. and Tonkiss, K. ‘Did they ‘Read before Burning?’ The Coalition and Quangos’, Political Quarterly, forthcoming.
  • Dommett. K, (2014), ‘Rhetoric and Party Politics: Looking Beyond the Leader’ in Atkins. J, Finlayson. A, Martin. J, and Turnbull. N, Rhetoric in British Politics and Society, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, pp.73-86.
  • Flinders, M., Dommett, K. and Tonkiss, K. (2014) ‘Bonfires and Barbeques: Coalition Governance and the Politics of Quango Reform’, Contemporary British History, Volume 28(1): 56-80.

View Dr Dommett's full list of publications.

Research Grants/Awards:

  • March 2014: British Academy Small Grants – ‘Quangocide in Comparative Perspective: Exploring the impact of austerity on arm's-length bodies in the UK and the Republic of Ireland’ - £2,910
  • February 2014: University of Sheffield Research and Innovation IKE funding – ‘Engaging Academics with Select Committees: Training Workshop’ - £4,836
  • December 2010: University of Sheffield Students’ Union – ‘Officer Role Review Research’ - £2,600

Other Recent Research Activities

In addition to my academic publications I am committed to engaging with audiences beyond academia, both to disseminate my findings, and to formulate new research projects. As such I regularly present my work to the public, engage with Parliament and Government (in the UK and beyond), write practitioner focused reports, author blog posts and contribute to media and broadcast programmes.

Examples of recent activities include:

PhD Supervision:

I am keen on supervising students on any topic within my areas of interest.