Dr Alexander Beresford

Dr Alexander Beresford


I joined POLIS in 2011 after completing my doctorate at the Centre of African Studies in Edinburgh.

I’m also a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Social Change at the University of Johannesburg.

I’m a member of the Leeds University Business School’s Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change (CERIC) and currently collaborating on projects relating to automation and labour market change in South Africa.


  • Director of Research and Innovation

Research interests

My research examines South African politics and in particular I focus on issues relating to corruption, patronage politics, and labour unions.

More broadly, my work engages in debates about democratic transitions and I have recently developed ideas about "productive liminality" and hybrid forms of governance with Marie Berry and Laura Mann.

My work with Dan Wand explores debates surrounding transitional justice, the International Criminal Court, and South Africa as a norm entrepreneur in international society.

I’ve blogged on the African Arguments website and The Conversation and can be followed on Twitter: @A_Beresford

I’m on the editorial boards of the Journal of Southern African Studies, the Review of African Political Economy, Critical African Studies and African Affairs. I’m also an Associate Editor for the British Journal of Politics and International Relations.

I was an editor of the Review of African Political Economy from 2014 to 2018, during which time I produced editorials on the "Africa Rising" debates and a special issue on the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.

I was also a founding editor of Critical African Studies and remained editor until 2017, during which time I edited issues on the politics of patronage in Africa and the global politics of labour in Africa.

<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 African Studies (Edinburgh)
  • MSc African Studies (Edinburgh)
  • BA Politics with International Studies (Lancaster)

Professional memberships

  • Royal African Society
  • ASA
  • ISA

Student education

I’m passionate about teaching and in 2015 and 2017 I won the POLIS Award for Inspirational Teaching. I also made the final shortlist for the University of Leeds Partnership Award for Inspirational Teaching in 2013 and was nominated once again in 2021.

I lead the level two module ‘State and Politics in Africa’ and the level three module ‘Violence and Reconciliation in Africa’. I also teach on the MA module ‘Global Inequalities and Development.’

I’m was previously the Faculty Digital Education Academic Lead and was responsible for promoting digital learning across the Faculty, such as a video about the ‘dangers of plagiarism’ for students. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Global Development
  • Centre for African Studies

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="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>