By Collins, Neil
New Statesman (1996) , Vol. 139, No. 4994
Political studies as a university discipline in the UK is relatively new. Nevertheless, British expertise in both politics and the allied field of international relations has been rated world class. This reflects, in part, the impact of the discipline's professional body, the Political Studies Association, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
There are about 2,000 academics specialising in politics in the UK. The Association supports their teaching and research through its conferences, journals, grants and advocacy role. A central plank in the professional structure is the network of specialist groups which promotes high-quality research by facilitating the exchange of ideas and analysis.
These clusters of scholars cover a wide range of inquiry. They focus on improving policy-making processes; identifying routes for resolving conflicts at home and abroad; analysing why citizens vote in certain ways, or why some of them fail to vote at all; studying political developments in different countries; and monitoring the outcomes of particular policies, as well as suggesting how to improve them.
The Association is committed to supporting the next generation of political scientists through its Graduate Network, which promotes links between postgraduate students throughout the UK and further afield. Equally, the Association recently formed a section for politics teachers in schools.
The leading organisation in its field in the UK, the Association also has a significant international membership. …