Department of Political Science


Covid-19 symposia

A podcast with SPP and UCL academics alongside practitioners who will discuss the politics and policy of Covid-19.

The format of the podcast will include short presentations from each speaker, with most of the time dedicated to discussion and debate. Listeners will have the option to pre-submit questions to our panel using the links below and each podcast will be available to listen to on all major platforms at any time following release. 

You can pre-submit questions to the panel by using the links below. We can’t guarantee that all questions will be answered, but we will take a selection.

Each podcast will be available on all major podcast platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Soundcloud. Either use the links below or search for 'UCL Political Science'. 

How will Covid-19 change the way nations govern their economies and societies?

Release date: Thursday 7 May

corona money
Covid-19 has upended daily life and revealed significant vulnerabilities, as well as strengths, in the governing capacity of both democratic and authoritarian nations.  Foremost in everyone’s mind is how nations will learn from this crisis and adjust their governing capabilities and styles, as we eventually move out of lockdown. 

In this podcast, our speakers will address several important issues and questions, such as: whether we will see an overarching paradigm shift in economic policymaking; what patterns of learning among policymakers we can expect; how national health systems will respond; what role civil society will play in post-lockdown life; and what new roles can we expect for international organisations, such as the WHO, the IMF and the World Bank.


  • Professor Wendy Carlin, Professor of Economics
  • Dr Gabriella Conti, Associate Professor of Health Economics
  • Professor Claudio Radaelli, Professor of Public Policy
  • Dr Mike Seiferling, Lecturer in Public Finance
  • Chair: Professor Jennifer Hudson, Professor of Political Behaviour and Head of Political Science Department 

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The morality of governing under Covid-19

Release date: Thursday 21 May

Governments around the world have taken dramatic action in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, restricting liberty to a degree not previously seen in peacetime and causing economic, social, and physical harm to many of their citizens. How should we judge whether such interventions can be justified? This episode will examine that question through a variety of political theory perspectives. Is it useful to think of a trade-off between individual liberty and collective security? Is it helpful to assess responses to the current crisis through the analogy of war? It will also look at the impact of the response to Covid-19 on particular groups, including women and vulnerable minorities, and ask how their rights are best protected in these times.


  • Professor Richard Bellamy, Professor of Political Science
  • Dr Avia Pasternak, Associate Professor in Global Ethics
  • Dr Maki Kimura, Teaching Fellow in Gender and Politics
  • Chair: Dr Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit

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Domestic repression and international order: the plight of human rights after Covid-19

Release date: Thursday 4 June

human rights
International treaties and agreements typically rely on good-faith implementation from member states, but nations often fail to live up to their agreements.  Recent research by Bakke and Mitchell has revealed that these same nations often enact measures designed to repress civil society, so as to avoid shining a light on this non-compliant behaviour.  At the same time, a number of nations have used the Coronavirus pandemic as a pretext for further seizing power and restricting civil liberties at home.  These trends thus raise the questions of what this pandemic will do to democratic governance, as well as the faithful implementation of international treaties and agreements.  Additionally, what will such repression do for developing nations and how will international organisations, such as the IMF, the United Nations and the World Bank react.  In this podcast, four experts from the UCL Department of Political Science/School of Public Policy treat these issues and examine the hard questions facing the world as we look towards the end of lockdown.


  • Professor Kristin Bakke, Professor of Political Science and International Relations
  • Dr Melanie Garson, Senior Teaching Fellow in Conflict Resolution and International Security
  • Dr Rod Abouharb, Associate Professor in International Relations
  • Dr Julie Norman, Teaching Fellow in Politics and International Relations
  • Chair: Dr Colin Provost, Associate Professor in Public Policy

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Democracy under Covid-19

Release date: Thursday 18 June

Covid-19 is putting democracies around the world under strain. Elections have been postponed, parliaments shut down, and media systems stretched. Many democracies are developing innovative ways of ensuring that democratic accountability is maintained, with parliaments and press conferences moving online and new systems for tackling misinformation developed. In other countries, however, executives have made what look dangerously like authoritarian power grabs, silencing their critics and assuming new powers that it may be difficult to wrest back from them. This session will examine the emerging patterns and consider how democracies may be changed by the crisis even after the pandemic has abated.



  • Professor Meg Russell, Professor of British and Comparative Politics and Director of the Constitution Unit
  • Dr Thomas Gift, Lecturer in Political Science: Public Policy Economics and Analysis
  • Dr Nils Metternich, Associate Professor in International Relations
  • Chair: Professor Jennifer Hudson, Professor of Political Behaviour and Head of Political Science Department 

Listen to this episode