The U.S. Presidency first caught my imagination when I was a teenager trying to understand the Kennedy phenomenon. The office has proved a source of fascination ever since (wherever it happens to be today, on the scale between heroic leadership and freakshow). It’s a subject that changes all the time while giving me an excuse to look into a broad range of policy areas and U.S. politics as a whole.

Recently, I’ve written pieces on the rhetoric of individual presidents, presidential-congressional relations and developments in US criminal justice policy, plus a book (co-authored with Trevor McCrisken and Andy Wroe) on the early stages of Donald Trump’s presidency. I’m nowconcentrating on a project considering how presidents try to present themselves in relation to their predecessors.

Areas of expertise

  • U.S. Presidency (rhetoric and communication, policy leadership, executive power)
  • Domestic Policy in the U.S.

As for my background, my first degree was a B.A. in Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford, but I decided I really wanted to focus on politics and went to Essex University to take a Masters in American Government and Politics. I completed my doctoral dissertation on that topic (specifically, how presidents-elect and presidents in the early months of their presidency take policy decisions) at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. During that period, I also spent a great year at the University of Pennsylvania. I was appointed to the American Studies Department at Keele in the 1990s, but have since moved to SPGS to teach more politics

Research and scholarship

My primary focus is the American Presidency, although I have broader interests in both public policy and US government as a whole. I’m particularly interested in how presidents choose to govern and what constrains their ability to get things done. That involves working on ideas concerning the relationship between presidential policy-making, presidential agendas and political strategy.

I publish on other subjects (recently on the conservative movement in the US, and on criminal justice policies) but the presidency is the thing I always come back to. Obviously, I’m always focused on the current presidency.


  • PIR-10039: Debates in American Politics
  • PIR-20068: Why Policy Changes
  • PIR-20071: U.S. Government and Politics
  • PIR-30117: The U.S. Presidency
  • PIR-40130: The U.S. Presidency and Public Policy

Further information

I’m working on a project looking at how presidents communicate their political positions to the public and fellow political actors through rhetoric. The strategic use of rhetoric, especially in the face of polarization and populist appeals, is where I hope to focus my attention in the next few years I also edit, with colleagues, the Developments in American Politics (Macmillan) series.


PhD supervision

I am keen to supervise students in most areas of US politics, but particularly on the US Presidency or US public policy.

I’m interested in foreign and domestic policy areas, presidential strategy, presidential rhetoric and have supervised on topics such as presidential-media relations, presidential campaigning and the legitimacy of US interventions in Latin America.

School of Social Sciences
Chancellor's Building CBA1.039
Keele University
Staffordshire, ST5 5BG
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734346

Undergraduate and postgraduate enquiries
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734346