The Constitution Unit


Professor Alan Renwick

Picture of Professor Alan Renwick

Position: Professor of Democratic Politics and Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit
Location: 2.02, 29-30 Tavistock Square
Telephone: 0207 679 4987
Email: a.renwick@ucl.ac.uk


Alan Renwick is an expert in the mechanisms through which citizens can participate in formal politics: particularly in electoral systems, referendums, and deliberative processes such as citizens' assemblies. His research is comparative: besides the UK, his recent projects have included all European democracies as well as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, and the United States.

Alan works with policy-makers on a range of issues. He became a source of authoritative, impartial evidence during the UK's electoral system referendum of 2011. He has provided evidence to governments and parliamentary select committees on a range of topics, including the conduct of referendums, electoral reform, reform of the House of Lords, and citizens' assemblies. Outside the UK, he has also provided advice and participated in debates in a range of settings, including Canada, Egypt, Jordan, Hong Kong, and Jersey.

Before coming to UCL in 2015, Alan was based at the Universities of Oxford and Reading. He obtained his doctorate, on processes of institutional design in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland during transition from communism, in 2004. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at New College, Oxford from 2003 until 2008 and a Departmental Lecturer in Comparative Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations, Oxford, from 2005 to 2006. He was based at the University of Reading between 2008 and 2015, latterly as Reader and Associate Professor of Comparative Politics.

Alan is Director of Impact and Engagement for the UCL Department of Political Science and one of the hosts of the department's podcast, UCL Uncovering Politics


Alan Renwick's research focuses on the mechanisms through which citizens can engage in formal democratic politics and policy-making, particularly elections, referendums, and citizens' assemblies.

Democracy in the UK after Brexit

Alan is leading the Unit's ESRC-funded project on Democracy in the UK after Brexit, which is employing large-scale surveys and running a citizens' assembly to explore how people in the UK think of democracy and their broad conceptions of democracy relate to their more specific preferences on how democratic institutions should operate. 

Elections and Referendums

Much of Alan's current research focuses on the conduct of elections and referendums. Between 2019 and 2021, he chaired the Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland, which examined how any future referendums on the unification question in Ireland would best be designed and conducted. In 2019, he completed a project looking at ways of improving the quality of the information and discussion during election and referendum campaigns. This work fed directly into the 2018 report of the Independent Commission on Referendums.

Alan is one of the world's leading experts on processes of electoral reform: he has written two major academic books on the subject and a third book aimed for a general audience. He has also contributed to public debates in the UK and elsewhere. His most recent research focuses in particular on the 'personalisation' of European electoral systems.

Citizens' Assemblies

Alan is a leading voice in debates about the development of more deliberative approaches to democracy, particularly through citizens' assemblies. Besides the current project on Democracy in the UK after Brexit, with its Citizens' Assembly on Democracy in the UK, he led the project to run a Citizens' Assembly on Brexit in September 2017, which gave unique insights into what kind of Brexit members of the public preferred once they had had the chance to learn and think in depth about the options. This project was part of the ESRC-funded UK in a Changing Europe initiative. Before that, he was part of the Democracy Matters project, and he has examined in depth the idea of establishing a constitutional convention to consider issues of constitutional and democratic reform in the UK. 



Reports and briefing papers:

Journal articles:

Chapters in edited volumes:


Alan Renwick currently teaches the undergraduate module in British Politics. He is also available to supervise undergraduate and Master's dissertations and PhD projects in areas related to his research.

Blog Posts
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Watch Prof Renwick's inaugural lecture "How can we fix our democracy", recorded May 2023.