Nick Turnbull


  • Politics, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road

    M13 9PL Manchester

    United Kingdom

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Personal profile



Supervision areas:

I welcome inquiries from graduate students about supervising their research in the following areas: governance and public policy, political rhetoric.

Undergraduate courses:

  • Public Policy Problems POLI30292

Postgraduate courses:

  • Rhetoric in Politics POLI60242
  • Topics in PPE SOCS30001
  • Philosophy of Politics Research POLI70771



Other teaching information

Teaching Ethos

My teaching ethos is centred around problem-based learning. I provide students with theoretical and empirical research and set up questions for them to answer. I include a large component of group work in seminars through which students work together, with me, to debate complex problems and consider potential solutions. The aim is to allow students to practice what they learn and to learn through that practice. The problems students take on in class are the most contemporary and vital questions in political science through a creative combination of research and students' own efforts.


I completed my PhD in Social Science and Policy at the University of New South Wales (Sydney) in 2005. I previously taught at the University of Sydney and University of Western Sydney and commenced my appointment as Lecturer at the University of Manchester in 2006. I lecture on public policy, governance and political rhetoric. I have been the Convenor of the Interpretive Political Science Association Specialist Group of the UK Political Studies Association and the Deputy Editor of the Revue Internationale de Philosophie. I am an active member of the International Public Policy Association. Beyond academia, I have worked as a researcher in the Social Policy Research Centre (UNSW), as a political advisor to a Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, as a civil servant in the Australian Public Service and as a researcher in a non-government agency (UnitingCare Burnside).

Research interests

Specific research interests:

Keywords: Governance and public policy, rhetoric and political communication, interpretive philosophy of social science

My work is in three interrelated areas, public policy studies, political rhetoric and the contribution of interpretive philosophy to these fields. My research on governance centres on the theory and practice of policy making. I research and teach about political conflict around public policy issues and am interested in what these political dynamics reveal about power in contemporary society. I am currently researching the rhetoric of trafficking and modern slavery policy. My work on political rhetoric primarily concerns the philosophy of rhetoric, investigating how rhetorical concepts can be integrated into political studies.

These two areas are brought together in research on new approaches to the theory of governance. I write on rhetoric within the field of interpretive policy analysis, which uses contemporary social and political theory to understand the policy process. I argue that policymaking is best understood in relational terms as a form of questioning characterised by rhetoric in which political actors employ persuasive and symbolic language in order to negotiate distance. I am a leading expert on problematology, a contemporary coninental philosophy of metaphysics, science and language, by Belgian author Michel Meyer. Problematology is a new approach to knowledge based in an original theory of questioning, which I apply in social science.

I also have general research and teaching interests in British politics, particularly the dynamics of party politics and policy debates.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Policy in Question: From Problem Solving to Problematology, University of New South Wales

Award Date: 13 Oct 2005

Bachelor of Social Science, University of New South Wales

Award Date: 1 Dec 1997

Areas of expertise

  • JA Political science (General)
  • Public Policy
  • governance
  • political rhetoric
  • problematology
  • modern slavery

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Digital Futures


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