Toby James
  • 3.73 Arts

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Personal profile


Toby S. James is Professor of Politics and Public Policy in the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies at the University of East Anglia.  He has held positions at the universities of Sydney, York, Swansea, Trinity College, Dublin, Interational IDEA and the John W. Kluge Center in the Library of Congress, Washington D.C.  

He is currently Deputy Director of the Electoral Integrity Project and Editor-in-Chief of Policy Studies.

Toby’s research focuses on the administration and management of the electoral process, the policy process and political leadership. He has had articles published in leading international journals such as International Political Science Review, Electoral Studies, Government and Opposition, Parliamentary Affairs, Public Money & Management and the British Journal of Politics and International Relations.  He is the author or co-editor of four books: Elite Statecraft and Election Administration (Palgrave, 2012), co-editor of British Labour Leaders and British Conservative Leaders (both Biteback, 2015) and is currently working on a book on Comparative Electoral Management (Routledge, 2020).

Toby was the co-founder and co-convenor of the Electoral Management Research Network which brings together leading scholars on electoral management (see  He has written commissioned policy reports for national and international organisations, given invited evidence to many Parliamentary committees and collaborated with organisations such as the Venice Commission.  He is currently Senior Fellow to the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Democratic Participation and Advisor to the Law Commission's Review of Electoral Law.  He is also on the Scientific Board for the Permanent Electoral Authority of Romania’s Electoral Expert Review and been an invited speaker around the world including at Harvard University and South Korea. 

Toby’s research has been externally funded by the British Academy, Leverhulme Trust, AHRC, ESRC, Nuffield Foundation, SSHRC and the McDougall Trust.  His work on electoral management and democratic participation led to him being a finalist for the ESRC Impact Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Public Policy in 2018.

Key Research Interests and Expertise

Toby’s research interests are broad and cover electoral institutions, electoral malpractice, political participation, political leadership, statecraft theory, public administration, theories of the policy process and research methodologies.

He is currently working on:

  • Comparative electoral management and administration. Elections are often marred by problems such as queues at polling stations, problems with technology or malpractice from election officials. Toby works on how we can conceptualise and measure performance, evaluates the effectiveness of policy tools, the effects of institutional designs and politics of reform.  Recent and ongoing projects include an analysis of poll worker surveys from the 2015 UK general election and 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections with Dr. Alistair Clark (University of Newcastle) funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust.  He is working with the Venice Commission and international scholars on a project on electoral management in Europe.  He has just published a book on Comparative Electoral Management (Routledge, 2020).  
  • Evaluating political leaders. Who was the greatest political leader of all time? How can we objectively judge them to be ‘great’? Is an objective judgement possible? Toby has been working  on frameworks for evaluating political leaders.  He has recently co-edited books on British Labour Leaders and British Conservative Leaders and co-edited a special issue of Parliamentary Affairs.  
  • Explaining policy continuity and change. Toby is working on how we understand policy/institutional continuity and change and has contributed towards the development of neo-statecraft theory in a recent article in Government and Opposition.

I welcome enquiries from PhD potential students relating to any of my research area.

Key Responsibilities

Deputy Director of the Electoral Integrity Project

Editor-in-Chief of Policy Studies

Professional Activities

Recent positions:

Research grants:

  • ERSC Covid Rapid Response, 2020-21
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Connection Grant, 2018-2019
  • Electoral Integrity Project Senior Fellowship Competition 2018
  • ERSC Impact Acceletator Account, 2016, 2017, 2018
  • Electoral Integrity Project Research Grant 2016
  • University of East Anglia Petley Impact Funding 2016
  • British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Grant, 2015-6
  • Political Studies Association Overseas Travel Grant. September 2013
  • Nuffield Foundation Social Sciences Small Grant. 2011-3
  • McDougall Trust Small Grant. 2011-3
  • ESRC National Centre for Research Methods Training Bursary. 2010
  • ESRC Institutional Visit Scholarship Summer. 2008
  • W. Kluge Centre Library of Congress Scholarship. 2007

Teaching Interests

Toby teaches research-led courses on British politics and comparative politics.  He is runs the Parliamentary and Public Policy Research Internship Scheme in which third year students undertake projects in collaboration with MPs, MEPs and pressure groups.