Academic Conference

Making Sense of Parliaments

Parliaments Group Annual Conference


The PSA Parliaments Group annual conference is taking place in Belfast, Ireland.

The theme for our conference this year is ‘Making Sense of Parliaments’ – a timely and pertinent question in the Northern Ireland context, given that the region’s legislature has not reconvened since the collapse of the devolved institutions in January 2017. Our conference seeks to highlight the best research into legislatures, shining a light on how we can make sense of scrutiny, representation, governance and all aspects of parliamentary life.

Confirmed panels


Panel 1: Legislative Influence

Chair Louise Thompson (University of Manchester)

  • Eloise Ellis (UEA) ‘Constitutional Scrutiny by Parliamentary Committee’
  • Matthew Williams, Jonathan Jones and Ruth Dixon (Oxford) ‘Making Sense of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill: Computer-Assisted Analysis of Amendments in Parliament’
  • James Strong (QMUL) ‘The House of Commons’ influence over military action: what can we learn from history?’
  • James Kelly (Concordia) ‘Stormont and Human Rights: An assessment of rights-based scrutiny by the NI Assembly’


Panel 2: Parliaments and the Public

Chair Sean Haughey (University of Liverpool)

  • Nicole Nisbett and Cristina Leston-Bandeira (Leeds) ‘Online Public Engagement: The Organisational Structure’
  • Thales Torres Quintao (Minas Gerais, Brazil) ‘Participation in Legislatures: Meanings and Justifications’
  • Lawrence Mckay (Manchester) ‘Proof communication matters: linking inputs and outputs in Westminster MPs’ constituency communication’
  • Aileen Walker (Global Partners Governance) ‘Public trust in parliaments and links to stability’


Panel 3: MPs and their Roles

Chair Ruth Dixon, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

  • Richard Kwiatkowski and Warren Greig (Cranfield) ‘Stepping in the same river: Change, constancy and the psychology of Members of Parliament’
  • Nicholas Allen (Royal Holloway), Gabriele Magni (Princeton) and Donald D Searing (North Carolina, Chapel Hill) ‘What is a career politician? Theories, concepts and measures’
  • Mark Bennister (Lincoln) ‘What Do You Do Mr Speaker? Up Close Observation in the Everyday Life of Parliament’


Panel 4: Devolved and Subnational Developments

Chair Marc Geddes (University of Edinburgh)

  • David Torrance (House of Commons) ‘Contradictory Unionism: the impact of Stormont on British devolution debates’
  • Diana Stirbu (LMU) ‘Strengthening the National Assembly for Wales through strategic re-positioning’
  • Khemvirg Puente (National Autonomous University of Mexico) ‘Legislative institutionalisation in Mexican subnational legislatures’
  • Margaret Arnott (UWS) ‘Brexit & Interparliamentary Relations in the Devolved UK: Challenges and Solutions?’
Parliament Buildings BT4 Belfast