Dr Jack Newman

Dr Jack Newman


I have worked as a teaching assistant in POLIS since 2016, contributing to undergraduate modules on British politics and political theory, and to post-graduate modules on political science and political research. More recently, I have taught in other disciplines within the University of Leeds, including the School of Sociology and Social Policy and the School of Medicine. In 2017, I designed and delivered the British Politics module at the Leeds International Study centre, and in the same year became an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

My route into academia started with a BA in politics from the University of Liverpool in 2010, followed by a MA in politics from the University of Leeds, which I completed part-time between 2012 and 2014. My MA dissertation formed the basis of my PhD thesis, which investigated the ontological assumptions underlying the UK’s recent social security reforms. My PhD was completed in May 2019 under the supervision of Stuart McAnulla and Richard Hayton, and the examination of David Marsh and Timothy Heppell.

Research interests

My research covers four main areas:

(1) Conservative Ideology and Conservative Politics: My political science research seeks to uncover the underlying assumptions of the UK Conservative Party, as implicated in their political discourse, and the underlying assumptions of conservatism more broadly, as outlined by conservative thinkers. I am particularly interested in their ontological assumptions, their ‘assumptions about the nature of being and existence’. Since 2016, I have been a member of the Political Studies Association and the PSA Conservatism Studies Group. In this area of my research, I have produced the following outputs:

  • Journal paper: Newman, J. and Hayton, R. (forthcoming). ‘The ontological failure of David Cameron’s ‘modernisation’ of the Conservative Party’. [Accepted for publication].
  • Conference paper: Newman, J. (2019). ‘The ontological assumptions of conservatism’. Conservatism Studies Workshop. Hull: 14/06/2019.
  • Conference paper: Newman, J. (2019). ‘The ontological assumptions underpinning David Cameron’s modernisation of the Conservative Party’. Political Studies Assoc. Conference 2019. Nottingham: 15/04/2019.

(2) Social Security Policy and Unemployment: In simple terms, I research what is said and written by policy makers, identifying their philosophical underpinnings. I take a particular interest in the UK’s recent Universal Credit reform programme. Although the practical failings of Universal Credit are widely reported, its underling ontological contradictions have only received limited attention. I have been a member of the Social Policy Association since 2018 and I am a member of the Money, Security and Social Policy network. In this area of my research, I have produced the following outputs:

  • Journal paper: Newman, J. (forthcoming). ‘The ontological assumptions of the Universal Credit reforms’. [Under review].
  • Conference paper: Newman, J. (2019). ‘The ontological assumptions of Universal Credit’. Social Policy Assoc. Conference 2019. Durham, 09/07/2019.

(3) Critical realism and the Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Critical realism offers a philosophical foundation for my empirical research, but it is also an area in which I seek to make original contributions through modifications, clarifications and syntheses of existing realist social theories. This strand of my research is an essential component of my approach to policy analysis, and is part of a broader interest in the philosophy of the social sciences. I am a member of the International Association of Critical RealismIn this area of my research, I have produced the following outputs:

(4) Ontological Policy Analysis (OPA): OPA is a framework for the analysis of ontological assumptions in political discourse and public policy. The framework builds coherently from a critical realist foundation and offers researchers the tools to analyse the content, coherence, constitution, and causality of ontological assumptions. I am in the process of publishing initial findings from the application of OPA, and plan to produce a detailed outline of the framework in the near future. In this area of my research, I have produced the following outputs:

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


  • PhD - University of Leeds - 2019
  • MA Politics - University of Leeds - 2014
  • BA Politics - University of Liverpool - 2010

Professional memberships

  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Political Studies Association
  • Social Policy Association
  • International Association for Critical Realism

Student education

My approach to teaching puts the experimentation with ideas at the heart of student learning. I seek to create an inclusive and supportive environment within which students can test their ideas, think reflexively about their own assumptions, and feel able to shift and develop their position. In 2017, I was awarded Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, and was nominated for the Leeds Positive Impact Award. I am currently working towards a HEA Fellowship.

The interdisciplinary nature of my research is reflected in my range of teaching expertise. In recent years, I have taught early modern and 20th century political theory, British politics and political marketing, introductions to sociology and the sociology of work, and the philosophy and methods of political science.