Professor Richard Bourke

Professor in the History of Political Thought

Location Arts Two 4.05


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 8345

Richard Bourke took his first degree at University College Dublin and completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge. He is co-director of the Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought, and previously co-directed the AHRC-funded Popular Sovereignty Network. In 2016 he was joint winner of the István Hont Memorial Book Prize in Intellectual History. He has held a number of visiting positions in Germany and the USA, most recently an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Huntington Library in San Marino, and a Visiting Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin. He has reviewed and commented on current affairs for The Financial Times, Prospect Magazine, Standpoint, The Nation, The Literary Review, The Times Literary Supplement and the BBC.


Richard Bourke’s work has focused on the history of political theory, particularly on enlightenment political thought, but also on ancient intellectual history and political ideas in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He has also written widely on Irish history, above all on the Troubles. In addition he has written on various issues in contemporary political thought, ranging from nationalism and conservatism to political judgment and popular sovereignty. His principal publications include Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke and Peace in Ireland: The War of Ideas . He has also co-edited Political Judgement, The Princeton History of Modern Ireland, and Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective. He is currently working on the philosophy of history since Kant, and on the history of democracy.

  • Eighteenth-Century Political Thought
  • Enlightenment Intellectual History
  • Ancient Political Thought
  • Twentieth-Century Political Ideas
  • Political Judgement
  • Democracy
  • Modern Nationalism
  • Irish History

Current PhD Students

  • Conor Bollins – The Eighteenth-Century Population Debate in Relation to Theories of Social and Political Stability
  • Catherine Hulse – Popular sovereignty, law, and ideology: Rousseau and the French Revolution after the Terror

Undergraduate teaching

Postgraduate teaching

Postgraduate supervision 

Professor Bourke welcomes applications from candidates wishing to undertake doctoral research in the following areas:

  • History of Political Thought
  • Enlightenment Intellectual History
  • Modern Irish History


Recent Selected Publications

Fellowships and Awards

Membership of professional associations or societies 

Editorial Positions

Recent broadcasts, public lectures and interviews

Appearances in the media 

Richard Bourke has commented on both past and current affairs, particularly on British, Irish and European politics, as well as on the history of ideologies like democracy and conservatism, for a range of print and other media, including BBC television, the BBC World Service, BBC RadioPress TV,  RTÉ RadioFinancial TimesThe Irish Times and Prospect Magazine. He has also written essays and reviews for such periodicals as the Times Literary SupplementPolitical QuarterlyThe Literary ReviewZeitschrift für Ideengeschichte and Revista de História da Biblioteca Nacional.