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Dr Nicholas Bernards

Dr Nicholas Bernards

Contact details

Tel.: +44(0) 24765 28445
Room: R3.19 Ramphal Building

Advice and Feedback Hours, Term 1: Tuesdays, 11:30-12:30pm (via MS Teams); Wednesdays 11:30-12:30pm (R3.19 or MS Teams)

Term 2: Tuesdays 10:30-11:30 (R3.19 or MS Teams); Fridays 9:45-10:45 (R3.19 or MS Teams)

Term 3: By appointment

A&F meetings do not need to be booked in advance. These hours are set aside for current Warwick students, if you are external to the university please send me an email to arrange a meeting.

Associate Professor

  • Director of Graduate Studies (Taught)
  • Equity Officer for the School for Cross-faculty Studies


I am a political economist with research and teaching interests in the past and present intersections of labour, finance, and global governance. My work is historically-oriented, with an emphasis on how long-run legacies of colonialism and uneven development have shaped the present context of sustainable development practice, and draws from a broadly historical materialist perspective.

Prior to starting at Warwick in 2017, I held a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Political Studies at Queen's University, Canada, funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

I am currently the Equity Officer and Chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the School for Cross-Faculty Studies, and Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes in GSD.


I have published on a range of issues around labour, finance, and governance including colonial histories, agrarian finance, informal economies, technological change, and international labour regulation.

My first book, The Global Governance of Precarity (Routledge, 2018), examines the governance of irregular forms of labour across Africa through a historical study of the activities of the International Labour Organization. I draw together analyses of ILO policy towards forced labour, unemployment, and social protection for irregular workers across African territories from 1919-present to make a wider argument about the political constitution of class and the contested boundaries of the working class.

My most recent book, A Critical History of Poverty Finance (Pluto Press, 2022) looks at the global history of efforts to extend financial services to the poorest. The book puts recent initiatives promoting the use of new financial technologies in the context of a longer history dating back to inter-war colonialism. The book draws on this history as a way of examining the limits of neoliberal models of development, showing how efforts to resolve poverty through the construction of new markets have often exacerbated existing patterns of uneven development.

PhD Supervision

I welcome inquiries from prospective PhD students interested in topics which intersect with any of my research interests.

I'm especially keen to hear from researchers interested in: critical political economy and political ecology approaches to sustainable development issues; global labour issues; global governance; technological change; critical approaches to finance and sustainable development; historical approaches to sustainable development; colonial histories.

Example topics from students I'm currently supervising:

  • The political ecology of alternative finance for sustainable energy
  • Marxian ecological theory and just transition discourses
  • Nature-based climate solutions and contested processes of valuation


Current modules

Teaching Qualifications

Fellow - Higher Education Academy

Selected publications


Edited collections

Selected recent journal articles

* For a complete list of publications, see hereLink opens in a new window.

Selected recent blogs and commentary