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Stephen Thornton

Dr Stephen Thornton

Reader in Politics

School of Law and Politics

+44 29208 76095
Law Building, Room 2.39, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Available for postgraduate supervision


I've been at Cardiff University since 1996 when I started my Masters degree, then stuck around. My interests, which inform both my research and teaching, focus on less familar aspects of twentieth century British political history. For example, current projects include an exploration of the constitutionally murky position of deputy to the British prime minister and a study of the complex relationship between architecture and politics. I also teach an innovative module that uses biography to help explore features of post-war British political history. 

I'm also involved in pedagogic research, with a particular focus on information literacy. My work in this area focuses on exploring the ways in which students have adapted their information behaviours to cope with technological change. Related to this interest, I'm involved with the PSA Teaching and Learning Network, and presented a webinar on 'Information Literacy in a Changed Learning Environment' as part of the joint PSA/BISA series established as a response to the challenge to tertiary education posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. 














  • Thornton, S. L. 2011. We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works. In: Curtis, S. and Simon Rofe, J. eds. Does the medium matter? IT-assisted learning and teaching in international relations and politics. Why Social Science Matters Vol. 5. Birmingham, UK: Higher Education Academy Subject Network for Sociology, Anthropology, Politics (C-SAP), pp. 7-11.








Book sections





Current projects include:

  • a study of the role of deputy to the British prime minister (with Dr Jonathan Kirkup, Cardiff University)
  • an investigation into the role of information literacy in the Political Science classrom (with Dr Doug Atkinson, Saltzburg University)
  • an exploration of radical plans in the 1960s to replace the Palace of Westminster with a 'Pop-Up Parliament' (with Professor Adam Sharr, Newcastle University)


I currently convene the module Personality and Power (3rd yr Undergraduate), a course that uses biography to help uncover aspects of British political history from 1955 to 2010. I also convene There Is No Alternative? Britain Under Thatcher (Masters-level), a module that explores the policies, politics and legacy associated with Margaret Thatcher and her governments. 

I also contribute to these modules: Parliamentary Studies (3rd yr); Sex, Drugs and Public Policy (3rd yr).

In addition, I supervise students (UG, Masters and PhD level) engaged in the writing of their dissertation or thesis.

I am on research leave until January 2023.


Education and qualifications

2003: PhD, (University of Wales, Cardiff)

1997: MScEcon in the European Policy Process (with distinction), (University of Wales, Cardiff)

1992: Postgraduate Certificate in Education, (Charlotte Mason College, University of Lancaster)

1991: BA Hons, (University of Nottingham)

Career overview

2020 to present: Reader in Politics

2012 – 2020:     Senior Lecturer in Politics, initially in the School of European Studies, now the School of Law and Politics

2006 – 2012:     Lecturer in Comparative Politics 


Honours and awards

Commendation: RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding University Located Research for Demolishing Whitehall: Leslie Martin, Harold Wilson and the Architecture of White Heat (2014)

Professional memberships

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (since 2023)

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (since 2016)


Committees and reviewing

Editorial Board: Teaching and Learning: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences; Undergraduate Journal of Politics and International Relations

Journal reviewer: Political Studies; Journal of Political Science Education; Teaching and Learning; PS: Political Science and Politics

Book reviewer: Oxford University Press; Macmillan/Red Box Press; Routledge


I would welcome enquires from prospective doctoral applicants in my fields of interest.