Professor Kevin Theakston

Professor Kevin Theakston


I studied at the London School of Economics (1976-82), taking a B.Sc (Econ) in Government and then researching for my PhD. I was then a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University in the USA (1982-83). I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1999.

I came to Leeds University in 1986 and have been Professor of British Government here since 1999. I have done two stints as Head of School in the School of Politics and International Studies (1999-2002 and 2011-2016).

Research interests

I am a specialist in British government and politics. I have a long-standing interest in Whitehall, the civil service and government ministers, and have written several books on those subjects.

My most recent books were on the lives and careers of former prime ministers from the 18th century to the present (After Number 10: Former Prime Ministers in British Politics); a co-edited study of the decline and fall of Labour Governments (How Labour Governments Fall); a co-edited study of former leaders around the world (Former Leaders in Modern Democracies); and a book about the life and career of William Armstrong, the leading British civil servant of the 1960s and early 1970s (William Armstrong and British Policy Making).

I am also interested in constitutional issues and constitutional reform, and in the life and career of Sir Winston Churchill, and have written on those subjects too.

I am currently working on various projects, including the political leadership of Edward Heath and on a book about British prime ministers.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • B.Sc (Econ)
  • PhD

Professional memberships

  • Political Studies Association
  • Study of Parliament Group
  • Royal Historical Society

Student education

I teach at different levels in the School on British government and politics.

Research groups and institutes

  • Leadership, Parties and Institutions

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>