The Constitution Unit


New leadership for the Constitution Unit

1 October 2015


Today marks an important transition for UCL's Constitution Unit, as its founding Director, Professor Robert Hazell, steps down after more than 20 years of service. The Unit's new Director is Professor Meg Russell, who joined the Unit in 1998 and was previously its Deputy Director. The new Deputy Director is Dr Alan Renwick, who joined UCL in September from the University of Reading.

The Constitution Unit is the largest and longest established research centre in UCL's School of Public Policy/Department of Political Science. It has been a trailblazer of research 'impact', and since its foundation in 1995 has always sought to produce research of direct relevance and interest to policymakers. Professor Russell is well known for her research on parliament, and has produced numerous books, articles and reports on parliamentary reform. Her research was pivotal in bringing about the 'Wright committee' reforms to the House of Commons in 2009-10, and she is a frequent contributor to debates about reform of the House of Lords. Dr Renwick is an internationally recognised expert on electoral systems and electoral reform, and also has interests in referendums and constitutional reform processes.

From today Robert Hazell is semi-retired but will continue to contribute substantially to the Unit and its research, including on devolution, Whitehall and the judiciary. The research team also includes Dr Jennifer Hudson (with particular interests in elections and political parties), and two new members of Associate Staff, Dr Christine Reh (EU politics) and Professor Colm O'Cinneide (UCL Laws, with interests in human rights).

In addition, the Unit is joined by a group of new academic Fellows, who will extend its reach. Fellows are senior academics based at other universities who will work closely with the UCL team on publications, events and research projects. The new team of eight Fellows have interests spanning devolution, judicial politics, parliaments, political parties and comparative executive politics (for a full list, see "Notes" below).

Commenting on her new role, Professor Meg Russell said today:

" "We would all like to thank and pay tribute to Robert Hazell for his enormous contributions to the Constitution Unit, and to UCL, over the last 20 years. The Unit has in many ways been a model for modern academic research - rigorous and balanced, but also always timely and of direct real-world relevance. The Unit's impact on debates about the constitution and constitutional reform, both in the UK and overseas, has been impressive. I have been delighted to contribute to that, and am now honoured to be following in Robert's footsteps as Director. I am also very pleased to welcome Dr Alan Renwick, and our new group of Associate Staff and Fellows, to the Unit. We will all seek to continue its best traditions of high-quality and highly relevant research."


1. The full list of new Constitution Unit Fellows is as follows:

  • Professor Justin Fisher (Brunel University, political parties)
  • Professor Michael Kenny (Queen Mary University of London, devolution and territorial politics)
  • Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira (University of Leeds, parliaments)
  • Professor Andrew Le Sueur (University of Essex, judicial politics)
  • Professor Kate Malleson (Queen Mary University of London, judicial politics)
  • Professor Nicola McEwen (University of Edinburgh, devolution and territorial politics)
  • Professor Petra Schleiter (University of Oxford, comparative executive politics)
  • Professor Richard Wyn Jones (Cardiff University, devolution and territorial politics).

2. In June 2015 the Unit held a conference to mark its achievements over 20 years and to celebrate Robert Hazell's contribution. Full details can be found here