Department of Political Science


Dr Emily McTernan

Emily McTernan
Associate Professor in Political Theory and MA LPT Programme Director
Room: 4.02, 29/30 Tavistock Sq.
Email: e.mcternan@ucl.ac.uk



Emily McTernan is currently Associate Professor in Political Theory at University College London. Until 2019, she ran the department’s MA in Legal and Political Theory. She has also held visiting positions at the School of Philosophy, ANU (June-December 2015; August 2016), and Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona (October 2018), has been an Associate Editor of Res Publica and is currently an Area Editor at Ergo.
Her research has been funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, as well as from a Templeton Religion Trust project ('The beacon project') and an ARC grant ('Political normativity and the feasibility constraint'). Emily has also won event funding from the Society of Applied Philosophy with Liam Shields, and a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Grant to establish a network on social equality with Martin O’Neill, Christian Schemmel and Fabian Schuppert.
She earned her doctorate at the History and Philosophy of Science Department, University of Cambridge in 2013. Emily will be on maternity leave for the academic year 2020-2021, and on research leave with an extension to her Leverhulme Research Fellowship for Spring 2022.


Emily’s research defends the fundamental and pervasive significance of social norms within political philosophy, something often overlooked in favour of laws and formal institutions. She has examined the overlooked role of social norms and social practices within relational egalitarianism, within discussions of civic virtue and education, and in debates over the value of parenting and funding fertility treatment. This work has been published in journals including The Journal of Political Philosophy, Political Studies, Bioethics, The Journal of Applied Philosophy, Ethical Theory & Moral Practice and Philosophy, Politics & Economics, as well as in edited collections.
But mostly, at present, funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, she is writing a book, In Defence of Taking Offence. You can watch a short, animated YouTube video on this research, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA9MKS-ZBt8

  • I teach the postgraduate modules Meanings of Liberty, Contemporary Political Philosophy II, and an undergraduate module Philosophy, Values, and the Social Sciences.
  • I have PhD students currently working on social equality and dementia, and on republicanism.
  • I’d especially welcome prospective students interested in social/relational equality or social norms, with a solid background in philosophy.