April 2018 newsletter

Welcome to the April edition of our newsletter. It’s a long one this time! We have lots and lots of announcements, including:

    1. Specialist Group of the Year!
    2. PSA Annual Conference 2018 – success
    3. New Treasurer
    4. Date for your diary: our annual conference
    5. Exploring Parliament – launch and discount code
    6. Workshop: Lawyering for Legislatures
    7. Summer School: Parliamentary Democracy in Rome
    8. Reminder: quantitative methods workshop
    9. Reminder: Essay Competition
    10. Recently on our blog

If you have any notices / messages you would like us to circulate to the group, please let us know (including events, new research projects, grants, publications, etc.). Or other ideas for the group and feedback for us, they’re welcome too!

Best wishes,
Marc (@marcgeddes), Louise (@LouiseVThompson) Alex (@A_Meakin) and Seán @S_Haughey


1. Specialist Group of the Year

We are super proud to announce that the Political Studies Association have named us as the Specialist Group of the Year for 2018!

We won this award based on a range of stuff that the group has been able to do over the past few years, including: an increased membership; a successful one-day annual conference and lecture; a wide-ranging communications strategy; lots of resources for scholars, teachers and students; writing a textbook…

The PSA noted:

“We are really impressed with the legacy from their text book, and their online presence!  A weekly blog is quite an undertaking, and covers a diverse – and international – set of topics.  But it is super to see that they also think about resources for other users too.  that’s a great example of engagement.  They have also been very active in supporting younger scholars from undergraduate through to early career. It’s also super to see them enjoying their own conferences so much, and that this year they are co-hosting with the Scottish Study of Parliament group.”

We want to extend a huge thanks to all our members – without you, this would not have been possible. In particular, we want to thank Cristina Leston-Bandeira, who re-launched the Group with Louise, and helped ensure that the Group took off. Without you, the PSA Parliaments Group would not have become so successful!

We hope to build on the success in future years!

Team prize psa18

Co-Convenors Marc Geddes and Louise Thompson, and Communications Officer Alexandra Meakin receiving Specialist Group of the Year prize from PSA Chair Angie Wilson


2. PSA Annual Conference 2018 – Success

In addition to our award, the PSA Conference has been a great success for the Parliaments Group and, most importantly, our members. A number of our members have won PSA Awards, including:

  • Nicholas Allen – Richard Rose Prize
  • Rebecca McKee – Arthur McDougall Prize
  • Ailsa Henderson – Innovations in Quantitative Methods

Congratulations to all three! Further details about the prizes is available here.

Our Communications Officer, Alex Meakin, has written a great summary of our conference activities, which you can find here.

You can also find many of the papers presented on our or the PSA’s website in case you missed them.


3. New Treasurer

We are super happy to announce that we have a new Treasurer, formally elected at our AGM: Seán Haughey, PhD Student at the University of Liverpool.

He has been an active member of the PSA Parliaments Group for a while, including contributions to our blog (see here for example).

Seán will be playing a key part in helping to keep the Group afloat, and will also help with other activities such as organising our annual conference.

You can reach Seán on Twitter here. His email address: s.haughey@liverpool.ac.uk.


4. Date for your diary: Annual Conference

We are happy to announce that our 2018 Annual Conference will take place on 08 November-09 November at Stormont, Belfast.

We have chosen the location and date based on feedback that we have received via Twitter, email and orally.

We are really excited to be bringing our conference to the Northern Ireland Assembly, especially following our highly successful conference in Edinburgh last year.

We thought it might be useful to announce the date/location as early as possible, so a formal call for papers will be released in the coming weeks/months with deadlines, etc. Add the date to your diary and we look forward to welcoming you to Belfast!


5. Launch of Exploring Parliament at Westminster plus discount code

It was good to see so many of our members at the launch of Exploring Parliament in the Speaker’s Apartments last month. Edited by Cristina Leston-Bandeira and Louise Thompson the book brings together over 50 academics and parliamentary officials (including many members of our group!) and discusses everything from parliamentary ritual to constituency campaigning. You can find a full report and photos from the event here. If you haven’t got hold of a copy yet, you can still use the discount code WEBXSTU20 to order a copy from the OUP website.


6. Workshop: Lawyering for Legislatures – the Challenge of Advising Legislatures

Legislatures are increasingly being confronted with complex issues which require legal advice.  Much of this is given by in-house parliamentary lawyers who support legislatures in scrutinising legislation and executive action as well as providing advice on corporate issues like privilege and employment law. Speakers include David Howarth (former Liberal Democrat MP and now Professor of Law, Cambridge); Diana Wallis (former VP of the European Parliament and Senior Fellow in Law, Hull University); Alex Horne (current Counsel to the Lords EU Committee) and Keith Bush QC (former Chief Legal Adviser, National Assembly for Wales). The workshop, run in conjunction with the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, will discuss the role of lawyers in advising and empowering legislatures, and the link between law and politics.

It takes place at the University of Hull on Friday 20 April.

See the full list of speakers and register for your free ticket here.


7. Summer School: Parliamentary Democracy in Europe, LUISS Rome

The 7th edition of the Summer Program-Jean Monnet Module on “Parliamentary democracy in Europe” is devoted to “Parliamentary Accountability and New Technologies: Transparency, Privacy and Security Challenges” and will take place at LUISS Guido Carli University, Rome, on 9-20 July 2018.
The first week of the course primarily focuses on the evolution of parliamentary transparency, on citizens’ engagement with parliaments and participatory and direct democracy and on their effects on the political and legal systems; the second week, instead,  is mainly devoted to investigate how the digital revolution has forced parliaments to combine their “openness” with the competing and related public interests to privacy and security.
The website with relevant information is available here http://sog.luiss.it/graduate-and-summer-programs/summer and the deadline for the applications is 29 April.

If you have questions, please get in touch with Cristina Fasone: cristinafasone@gmail.com.


8. REMINDER Statistical Analysis of Parliaments and Legislatures for Dabblers – 25 May

Time: 11.00-15.00 (with lunch provided)
Date: Friday, 25 May 2018
Venue: University of Birmingham (Room TBC)

This workshop is open to all, but is aimed at those with little or no previous experience of quantitative statistics but who believe it may be useful for them in their current or future research.

The workshop will be based around the conveners’ British Academy-funded research project on select committees. Each stage of the project – from initial inspiration through data collection and analysis to finished article – will be outlined and discussed in terms of both methodological and practical considerations so that participants have an idea of what the research process entails and what hazards and opportunities to look out for along the way. It will cover such things as finding out about available data, the different software that may be useful, and working with external stakeholders and experts.

The workshop will be run by Stephen Bates (who remains a relative novice when it comes to quantitative statistics) and Steve McKay (who is an old-hand at this kind of thing).

Attendance and lunch are free but participants will have to cover their travel costs. The PSA Parliaments group are able to offer a limited number of travel bursaries of up to £50 to PhD students who sign up to the event (4 available in total).

To register for the workshop, please email Stephen Bates (s.r.bates[at]bham[dot]ac[dot]uk).


9. REMINDER: Essay Competition 2018

We would like to remind all members about our Essay Competition 2018! The winner will be presented with a prize of £100 and a runner-up prize of £50. Last year’s winners were presented the award by the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament at our annual one-day conference.

The essay competition is open to all undergraduate students, who should complete an essay with a focus on parliament(s), with a word limit of up to 3,500 words (excluding bibliography and references). In order to enter, lecturers must submit an essay on their students’ behalf by the closing date of Friday 01 June 2018. Please note that only one submission can be made per lecturer (teaching assistant), who must be a member of the PSA and of Parliaments Group.

Entries should be anonymised and sent to Marc Geddes (marc.geddes@ed.ac.uk) and Louise Thompson (Louise.Thompson@surrey.ac.uk) with key information as requested on our website. The winner will be announced in July 2018.

Full entry information and judging criteria.


10. Recently on the blog

The blog took a break over the Easter period, but it’s back in full flow – the latest post:

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