Academic Staff: Matthew Flinders

Picture of Professor Matthew FlindersProfessor Matthew Flinders, B.A. (Loughborough), Ph.D.(Sheffield) 

Professor

Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 1680
Fax: +44 (0)114 222 1717
Room: G.65 Elmfield

Email : m.flinders@sheffield.ac.uk

Profile

Professor Flinders studied Modern European Studies at Loughborough University before coming to the University of Sheffield to complete his doctorate in public policy and governance. He was appointed to a permanent Lectureship in 2000 (Senior Lecturer 2003, Reader 2005, Professor 2009). He was Sub-Dean for Graduate Affairs during 2004-2005 and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences 2005-2006. He was a Governor on the Board of Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust between 2008-2011 and Deputy Head of the Department of Politics between 2008-2012. Professor Flinders is also on the Executive Committee of the Political Studies Association. In addition to his academic work Professor Flinders is a writer and broadcaster and has made numerous contributions to national newspapers, including The Times and The Guardian, and in 2011 he wrote and presented a three-part series for BBC Radio 4 entitled ‘In Defence of Politics’.

Prizes and Fellowships

  • 2002, Harrison Prize for the best article published in Political Studies
  • 2004, Richard Rose Prize for the most outstanding young scholar working in the field of British and Irish politics
  • 2009, WJM Mackenzie Prize [Best Book in Political Science]
  • 2005-2006, Leverhulme Research Fellowship
  • 2005-2006, Whitehall Fellowship (Cabinet Office)
  • 2010, Visiting Professor, University of Sydney
  • 2011, Elected Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences

Teaching

One of the best parts of being an academic is being able to teach and inspire students. My approach to teaching has always been based on the need to challenge and stimulate students and this is reflected in the
way I approach both big lectures and small seminars. I have taught POL113 ‘Introduction to Political Analysis’ in the department for over a decade and still get nervous before every lecture. I also teach a number of more specialist third-year and MA modules on delegation, governance, comparative politics and public policy.

My teaching is very much informed by my research and I always try and ground complex theories or concepts by providing real-world case studies or examples. My lectures have been known to include piano recitals (very bad), jokes (very bad) and magic tricks (quite good). It was an enormous honour for me when I was awarded the University Teaching Prize in 2010.

Professor Matthew Flinders suggests that we may need to rethink our relationship with politicians and engage differently with the political process.
More Politics Brought to Life videos

In seminars I try and get everyone involved in discussions and exercises. I have high expectations about what students should do to prepare for classes and I am a great believer that teaching is a reciprocal relationship. My main teaching innovation at the moment is developing a new third-year module on Parliamentary Studies that will be delivered in association with the Outreach Team of the Houses of Parliament. This is a new innovation that seeks to offer theoretically-informed but policy-relevant teaching for students that bridges politics ‘as theory’ and politics ‘as practice’.

Professional Service to Governmental and Parliamentary Bodies

  • Invited Submission of evidence to the House of Commons’ Public Administration Select Committee as part of its inquiry into Quangos [See HC 209, Session 1998-1999]
  • Invited submission of evidence to the Local Government Association (1999)
  • Invited submission of evidence to the Hansard Society (2001)
  • Invited submission of evidence to the Committee on Standards in Public Life (2002)
  • Appointed to the Board of Assessors for Federal Research Grants in the Social Sciences by the Belgian Government (2002)
  • Invited submission of evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution (2003) [see HL 150, Session 2003-2004]
  • Invited submission of evidence to the European Convention on the Future of Europe (2003).
  • Invited submission of evidence to the Review of Public Administration in Northern Ireland (2004).
  • Invited submission of evidence to the Department for Constitutional Affairs’ review of the public inquiries system (2004). This evidence was subsequently used by the House of Commons Public Administration Committee as part of their ‘Government by Inquiry’ report of February 2005 (see HC 51-I, 2004-2005).
  • Invited submission of evidence to the Select Committee on Public Administration (2005) as part of their inquiry into ‘Politics and Administration: Ministers and Civil Servants’ (published in HC107-II, Session 2006-2007, pp.117-118).
  • Invited participant at a seminar (Jan. 2006) organised by the Leader of the House of Commons to consider the future of the Modernisation Committee’s work on the legislative process.
  • Invited submission of evidence to the Committee on Standards in Public Life (Feb. 2006) on the future of the Electoral Commission [See Cm. 7006, 2007]
  • Adviser to the Government of Taiwan (2005)
  • Adviser to the Government of Canada (2006)
  • Adviser to the Government of Catalonia (2006)
  • Invited submission of evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee (2006) as part of their inquiry into the Rural Payments Agency (published in HC122-II, Session 2006-2007, pp.289-290).
  • Invited submission of evidence to the Liberal Democrats’ Better Government Working Group, February 2007.
  • Invited submission of evidence to the government’s green paper The Governance of Britain July 2007 [part of the PSA’s official response document].
  • Internal Adviser to the Committee on Standards in Public Life as part of their preparations for the twelfth inquiry, March 2008.
  • Invited Submission of evidence to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation document 'A national framework for Greater Citizen Engagement’, November 2008.
  • Acknowledged Expert, European Centre for Parliamentary Research and Documentation.
  • Invited Submission of evidence to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation document 'Rights and Responsibilities: developing our constitutional framework’, March 2009.
  • Invited Submission of evidence to the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s inquiry into MPs expenses, June 2009 [see Cm.7724, November 2009]
  • Advisor to the Government of Thailand, part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s ‘Advancing Democracy in Thailand’ Project. Official visit to Bangkok (21-25 Feb. 2010) for lecture and seminars.
  • Facilitator of ‘Managing in a Political Environment’ for senior officers in Kent County Council. This was the first time a training event on this topic had been organised as part of a career and skills development programme in local government. Monitored by IDEA, April 2010.
  • Invited Submission of evidence to HM Treasury’s review document ‘Reforming Arm’s Length Bodies’, April 2010.
  • ‘Managing in a Political Environment’ training seminar for Kent County Council, June 2010 [covered in The Guardian 28 July 2010]
  • Invited Submission of evidence to the House of Commons’ Public Administration Select Committee as part of its inquiry into What Ministers Do, August 2010. [See HC 530, Session 2010-2011]
  • Invited Submission of evidence to the House of Commons’ Treasury Select Committee as part of its inquiry into The Office for Budget Responsibility, August 2010. [See HC 385 Office for Budget Responsibility, Fourth Report of the Treasury Committee, Session 2010-2011]
  • Invited Submission of evidence to the Department of Justice as part of its review of the Judicial Appointments Process in the State of Victoria, Australia, August 2010.
  • Invited Submission of evidence to the House of Commons’ Public Administration Select Committee as part of its inquiry into The Smarter State: Quangos, September 2010. [See HC 537, Session 2010-2011]
  • Invited Submission of evidence to the House of Commons’ Political and Constitutional Reform Committee as part of its inquiry into Government and Coalition Formation, November 2010. [See HC 528 Session 2010-2011]
  • Invited Submission of evidence to the House of Commons’ Public Administration Select Committee as part of its inquiry into Good Governance and Civil Service Reform, January 2011.
  • Invited Submission of evidence and appearance before the House of Lords Constitution Committee as part of its inquiry into ‘The Process of Constitutional Reform’, March 2011. [See HL 177, Session 2010-2012]
  • Expert advisor to the Decentralisation Analysis Team in the Communities and Local Government Department on Accountability: Adapting to Decentralisation, May 2011.
  • Invited Submission of evidence the House of Commons’ Public Administration Select Committee as part of its inquiry into The Big Society, June 2011.
  • Expert Advisor to the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments and First Civil Service Commissioner as part of the formal review of the regulatory framework for public appointments, August 2011.
  • Invited Submission of evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press, October 2011.

Current Research

Professor Flinders is currently working on the following issues: modes of depoliticisation; governance and public policy; legislative studies with a focus on parliamentary scrutiny of the executive and the extended state; majoritarian modification and constitutional reform; territorial and functional decentralisation; the politics of patronage and public appointments; and a set of broader issues that rotate around the theme of political disengagement.

Key Publications

  • Flinders, M. Defending Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • Flinders, M. Democratic Drift (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
  • Flinders, M, Gamble, A, Kenny, M and Hay, C eds. The Oxford Handbook of British Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) 960pp.
  • Flinders, M. Walking Without Order (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) 336pp.
  • Flinders, M Brazier, A and McHugh, D. New Politics, New Parliament? Parliamentary Modernisation under Labour (London: Hansard Society, 2005) 160pp.
  • Flinders, M and Bache, I eds. Multi-level Governance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) 320pp.

Click here for Professor Flinders' full list of publications.

PhD Supervision

Professor Flinders is keen to supervise research students in the following areas (broadly defined): modes of depoliticisation; governance and public policy; legislative studies with a focus on parliamentary scrutiny of the executive and the extended state; majoritarian modification and constitutional reforms; territorial and functional decentralisation; multi-level governance; patronage and public sector reform; and, the politics of delegation.

Professor Flinders is currently supervising three doctoral students, and has previously supervised eleven students to successful completion of their Ph.D or M.Phil qualifications.