Dr Timothy Heppell


I am an expert in post war British politics with research interests in political parties and political leadership.

I completed my doctorate at the University of Newcastle in 2000 on Prime Ministerial Leadership and Party Management in the House of Commons 1992-1997. Since then I have gained two decades worth of experience teaching undergraduate and postgraduate modules on British political parties. Alongside my teaching I have gained considerable administrative experience having served in a variety of roles including Admissions Tutor, Programme Leader, Research Ethics and Academic Group Leader for Politics. I am currently the Exams Officer for POLIS.

I have authored six books, the most recent of which is Cameron: The Politics of Modernisation and Manipulation with Manchester University Press (2019). I have also edited four books, contributed twenty chapters in edited books, as well as publishing over forty articles in leading political science journals such as the Journal of Common Market Studies, Government and Opposition, British Journal of Politics and International Relations and the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties.

I have provided evidence to the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee and was cited in their subsequent report entitled ‘Role and Powers of the Prime Minister’. I also co-authored ‘What makes for an effective Leader of the Opposition’ for the Centre for Opposition Studies.

I have media interview experience including BBC Television and Radio, the Independent and the Washington Post.


  • Exams Officer

Research interests

My current research interests are based around the following:

(1). Comparative Leadership: UK and Japanese Prime Ministers

I am part of an ESRC funded project comparing the sources of power and influence of UK and Japanese Prime Ministers, working with Professor Hugo Dobson (University of Sheffield), Professor Caroline Rose (University of Leeds), Professor Matthew Flinders (University of Sheffield), Professor Kensuke Takayasu (Seikei University), Professor Tomohito Shinoda (International University of Japan) and Professor Yu Uchiyama (University of Tokyo).

(2). Opposition Leadership: How Political Parties Recover Power

I am completing a book entitled Recovering Power: The Labour Party in Opposition from Attlee to Corbyn, which is due for publication in 2021 as part of the Routledge Series in British Politics.

(3). Leadership Failure: Reassessing the Heath Government

I am co-editing (with Dr Andrew Roe-Crines, University of Liverpool) the following book for the Palgrave Studies in Political Leadership series – Policies and Politics under Prime Minister Edward Heath – which is due for publication in 2020.

(4). Party Unity: Ideological Divisions within British Political Parties

With Dr Andrew Roe-Crines and Dr David Jeffery (University of Liverpool) I continue to work on developing and exploiting datasets on the parliamentary Conservative Party and the parliamentary Labour Party as a means of identifying the relationship between parliamentarians and leaders. 

<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 'Prime Ministerial Leadership and Party Management in the House of Commons 1992 to 1997'
  • BA Politics

Professional memberships

  • I am an elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society 2017
  • I have been elected to the leadership of two Political Studies Association specialist groups (first in Political Leadership 2010-15 and then in Politics and History 2017-19).

Student education

I normally teach two modules – PIED 2126 The Conservative Party since 1945 and PIED 2139 The Labour Party since 1945. However, for 2020-21 I will only be teaching PIED 2126.

I currently co-supervise the following postgraduate research students:  

  • Ed Lack, Opposition Craft: The Art of Opposition Politics
  • George Aylett, The Labour Party Leadership of Jeremy Corbyn

I have previously supervised the following research postgraduate students:

  • Michael Hill (2002-2007) The Conservative Party Leadership Elections of 1997 and 2001
  • Michelle Webb (2002-2007) The Labour League of Youth
  • Mark Fox (2008-2011) The Prime Ministerial Leadership of Edward Heath 
  • Tom McMeeking (2012-18) Reassessing the Prime Ministerial Leadership of John Major
  • Samuel Barratt, (2014-20) Leadership Strategy within the Liberal Democrats from Ashdown to Clegg

I have acted as examiner for the following doctoral submissions:

  • Richard Hayton, Conservative Party Leadership Strategy and the Legacy of Thatcherism 1997 to 2005, University of Sheffield, 2008.
  • Alan Wager, A Road Half-Travelled: A temporal, case study analysis of cross-party co-operation in the British context, 1945-1999, Queen Mary, University of London, 2017
  • Tristan Martin, ‘The Conservative Party: Policy Change and Europe 1997-2016’, University of Newcastle, 2018.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Democratic Engagement
  • Leadership, Parties and Institutions
<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>