Prof Richard Bourke

Professor of the History of Political Thought
Fellow of King's College
Professor Richard Bourke FBA
I took my first degree at University College Dublin and completed my PhD at the University of Cambridge. I gained a second BA in Classics at Birkbeck College, University of London. I held my first academic post in Dublin, before moving to Queen Mary University of London, where I became Professor in the School of History in 2012. I was elected to the Chair in the History of Political Thought at Cambridge in 2018. Having co-directed the AHRC-funded project on Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective, I currently co-directing the History in the Humanities and Social Sciences Network, also funded by the AHRC. My work has attracted various accolades and awards, including as joint winner of the István Hont Memorial Book Prize in Intellectual History in 2016. I have held a number of Fellowships in Europe and the United States (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Humboldt Stiftung, DAAD, Freie Universität, LMU Munich, Huntington, Beinecke, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, John Carter Brown Library).

In 2018 I was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.
My work has focused on the history of political thought, particularly on the political ideas of the enlightenment, but I also have interests in ancient philosophy, and in political theory in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I have written, in addition, on Irish history, above all on the Troubles. I have also published on various issues in contemporary political thought, ranging from nationalism and conservatism to political judgment and popular sovereignty. I am currently working on the philosophy of history since Kant, and on the history of democracy.
Part I Paper 20 and Part II Paper 4 (lectures and supervisions), Part II Paper 5 (supervisions), MPhil (text class, concept class, dissertations).
Fellow of the British Academy
Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
Co-Director, Cambridge Centre for Political Thought
Series Co-Editor, Cambridge University Press, Ideas in Context
European Advisory Board, Princeton University Press
Editorial Board, Journal of British Studies
Editorial Board, History of European Ideas
Editorial Board, Modern Intellectual History.
Print Journalism: The Financial Times, Prospect Magazine, The Irish Times, Fortnight Magazine, Aeon, Juncture, History Today, The Times Literary Supplement, The Literary Review, Standpoint Magazine, The Political Quarterly, The Nation (US), Revista de História da Biblioteca Nacional (Brazil), Open Magazine (India), Hamshahri Diplomatic (Iran), Farhange Emrooz (Iran).
Other Media: BBC, RTE, Press TV, Serious Science, Bookmonger, Philosophy Bites, Liberty Law Site, New Books Network.
History of British and European political thought since 1700, enlightenment, romanticism, democracy, nationalism, historiography, the history of the philosophy of history, modern Irish history.


Tags & Themes

Key publications


Empire and Revolution:The Political Life of Edmund Burke (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2015), xxvi + 1001 pp. Paperback 2017.

Peace in Ireland: The War of Ideas (London: Random House, Pimlico, 2003, 2ndedition with new Preface, 2012), xvi + 462 pp.

Editor, with Ian McBride, and contributor, The Princeton History of Modern Ireland (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2016), xiv + 544 pp.

Editor, with Quentin Skinner, and contributor, Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), x + 420 pp. Paperback 2017.

Editor, with Raymond Geuss, and contributor, Political Judgement: Essays for John Dunn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), viii + 354 pp. Paperback 2017.

Romantic Discourse and Political Modernity (London: Simon & Schuster, Harvester: 1993), vii + 353 pp.

Articles and Chapters

‘Inventing Democracy’, Gerald Stourzh Lecture on Human Rights and Democracy, Online Publication (2018):

‘Material Incentives and Kantian Optimisation: John E. Roemer on “Left-Right” Economics’, Review of Social Economy (First Published Online 23 May 2018):

‘What is Conservatism? History, Ideology and Party’, Journal of European Political Theory, 17: 4 (2018), pp. 449–75.

‘Democracy as Ideal and Democracy as Struggle’, Modern Intellectual History (December 2017), pp. 1–7.

‘She me shi jiu ti zhi?’ (What was the Ancien Régime?), trans. into Chinese by Alvin Chen, Intellectual History 7 (Taipei: 2017), pp. 215–36.

‘Reflections on the Political Thought of the Irish Revolution’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 27 (2017), pp. 175–91.

‘Staryy poryadok i Revolyutsiya’ (The Old Regime and the Revolution), ФИЛОСОФИЯ (Philosophy: Journal of the Higher School of Economics), 1:1 (Moscow 2017), pp. 34–56.

‘War Edmund Burke ein Konservativer? Notizen zum Begriff des Konservatismus’, Leviathan: Berliner Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaft, 44:1 (2016), pp. 65–96.

‘Historiography’ in The Princeton History of Modern Ireland,eds.Richard Bourke and Ian McBride (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2016), pp. 271–91.

‘Popular Sovereignty and Political Representation: Edmund Burke in the Context of Eighteenth-Century Thought’ in Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective,eds. Richard Bourke and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 212–35.

‘Edmund Burke als Aufklärer’, Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte, 9: 3 (Autumn 2015), pp. 111–16.

‘Party, Parliament and Conquest in Newly Ascribed Burke Manuscripts’, Historical Journal, 55:3 (September 2012), pp. 619–52.

‘Burke, Enlightenment and Romanticism’ in The Cambridge Companion to Burke, eds. David Dwan and Chris Insole (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 27–40.

‘Pity and Fear: Providential Sociability in Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry’ in The Science of Sensibility: Reading Edmund Burke's Philosophical Enquiry, eds. Michael Funk Deckard and Koen Vermeir (Dordrecht, New York, Heidelberg and London: Springer, 2012), pp. 151–75.

‘Languages of Conflict and the Northern Ireland Troubles’, Journal of Modern History, 83:3 (September 2011), pp. 544–78.

‘Nationalism, Balkanization and Democracy’ in Schleifspuren: Lesarten des 18. Jahrhunderts, eds. Anke Fischer-Kattner et al. (Munich: Dreesbach Verlag, 2011), pp. 77–89.

‘Pocock and the Presuppositions of the New British History’, Historical Journal, 53:3 (September 2010), pp. 747–70; reprinted in Critical Concepts in Historical Studies: Intellectual History, ed. Richard Whatmore (London: Routledge, 2015).

‘Theory and Practice: The Revolution in Political Judgement’ in Political Judgement: Essays for John Dunn,eds. Richard Bourke and Raymond Geuss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 73–110.

‘Edmund Burke and International Conflict’ in British International Thinkers from Hobbes to Namier, eds. Ian Hall and Lisa Hill (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 91–116.

‘Enlightenment, Revolution and Democracy’, Constellations, 15:1 (March 2008), pp. 10–32.

‘Edmund Burke and the Politics of Conquest’, Modern Intellectual History, 4:3 (November 2007), pp. 403–32.

‘Antigone and After: “Ethnic” Conflict in Historical Perspective’, Field Day Review, 2 (2006), pp. 170–96.

‘“Imperialism” and “Democracy” in Modern Ireland, 1898–2002’, Boundary 2: Special Issue on Irish Culture and Politics, 31:1 (2004), pp. 93–118.

‘Edmund Burke and Enlightenment Sociability: Justice, Honour and the Principles of Government’, History of Political Thought, 21:4 (2000), pp. 632–55.

‘Liberty, Authority and Trust in Burke’s Idea of Empire’, Journal of the History of Ideas,61:3 (Summer 2000), pp. 453–471; reprinted in International Library of Essays in the History of Social and Political Thought: Edmund Burke, ed. Iain Hampsher-Monk (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009), pp. 117–35.

‘Sovereignty, Opinion and Revolution in Edmund Burke’,History of European Ideas, 25:3 (1999), pp. 99–120.

Other publications


‘P. J. Marshall and Burke Studies’, Studies in Edmund Burke and His Time, 26 (2017), pp. 43–7.

‘Introduction’ to The Princeton History of Modern Ireland, eds. Richard Bourke and Ian McBride (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2016), pp. 1–18.

‘Revising the Cambridge School: Republicanism Revisited’, Review Essay on Istvan Hont, Politics in Commercial Society: Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015) and Richard Tuck, The Sleeping Sovereign: The Invention of Modern Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), Political Theory (October 2016).

‘Introduction’ to Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective, eds. Richard Bourke and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 1–14.

‘Rethinking Democracy’, Review Essay on Jonathan Israel, Revolutionary Ideas: An Intellectual History of the French Revolution from the Rights of Man to Robespierre (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014), and John Dunn, Breaking Democracy’s Spell (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014), Modern Intellectual History (April 2015), pp. 1–13.

‘Burke was no Conservative’, Aeon Magazine, first published online, 22 December 2015.

‘Living History: Reading Edmund Burke on Representation’, Juncture, 22:3 (Winter 2015), pp. 190–95.

‘Burke, Edmund’ in Gregory Claeys ed., Encyclopedia of Modern Political Thought (Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 2013), pp. 103–7.

‘Forum on the History of Political Thought in Germany’ (with Olaf Asbach et al.), German History, 30:1 (March 2012), pp. 75–99.

‘Burke’ in Philosophy Bites Back (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 2012).

‘Introduction: Hobbes, Language and Liberty’, Special Issue of Hobbes Studies, 22 (2009), pp. 161–70.

‘Plague Man: The Crusader in Conor Cruise O’Brien’ (Reappraisal), Times Literary Supplement, 13 March 2009, pp. 13–14.

(with Raymond Geuss), ‘Introduction’ to Political Judgement: Essays for John Dunn,eds. Richard Bourke and Raymond Geuss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 1–26.

‘Aesthetics and Politics in Edmund Burke’, UCLA Centre for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies and William Andrews Clark Memorial Library: The Centre & Clark Library Newsletter, 50, (Autumn 2009), pp. 7–9.

‘Northern Ireland, 1945–’, The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern World, 1750 to the Present ed. Peter N. Stearns (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 8 vols., V, pp. 458–61.

‘Conflict of Cultures, Clash of Civilisations’ in Taking Unreason’s Measure: Facing the Global Challenge of Politics: Proceedings of the Centre for Political Thought Conference, Academia Sinica (Taipei: 2007), pp. 187–206.

‘Edmund Burke, 1730–1797’, The Dictionary of Liberal Thought, eds. Duncan Brack and Ed Randall (London: Politicos, 2007), pp. 51–4.


‘Irish History’, Interview for Five Books: The Best on Everything, 25 July 2016:

‘The Cambridge School’, Interview in Persian for the Iranian journal Farhange Emrooz (Today’s Culture), 7 May 2016.

'Modern Nationalism', Serious Science, 27 July 2018:

'The Conservatism of Burke', Serious Science, 27 June 2017:

'The Concept of Sovereignty', Serious Science, 14 June 2017:

Alvin Chen, ‘An Interview with Richard Bourke’ in Intellectual History, 2 (Taipei: 2014), pp. 263–81.