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Nicole Beardsworth

Honorary Research Fellow

Dr Nicole Beardsworth is an honorary research fellow in PAIS and a Lecturer in Politics at the University of the Witwatersrand. After completing an ESRC postdoctoral research fellowship at PAIS, Nicole took up a Mellon-funded postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pretoria (South Africa). Nicole holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Warwick, an MA in International Relations from the University of the Witwatersrand and an MSc in African Studies from the University of Oxford. Her PhD research focused on opposition parties and electoral coordination in Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Her broader research is on the history and politics of sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on political parties, governance, democratisation and elections in Southern and Eastern Africa. Nicole is a regular writer for several academic blogs and newspapers.

You can follow Nicole on Twitter @nixiiib



Nicole received £8,000 from the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Warwick to set up the Zambia Elections Research Network with colleagues at Warwick (Professor Gabrielle Lynch), the University of Cape Town (Professor Jeremy Seekings) and the Southern Institute for Policy and Research (Dr Marja Hinfelaar). This network aims to bring together experienced scholars of Zambia to undertake a programme of research on the 2021 polls.


In December 2018, Nicole was awarded a £30 000 project grant by the AHRC-funded Global Research Network on Parliaments and People. Titled “Democratisation and Ethno-Federalism in Ethiopia: shifting relationships between youths and parliaments at state and federal level,” this project commenced in May 2019. With Co-Investigator Professor Assefa Fiseha (University of Addis Ababa) and two research assistants, this project uses innovative ethnographic video methods to foster conversations between youths and parliamentarians on the efficacy of the country’s representative institutions, and how to ensure they are more inclusive and representative of young people. It builds on existing literature on Ethiopia’s ethno-federal political system and contributes to broader theory on bottom-up pressures for change and youth participation in reform and democratisation in developing countries.

In collaboration with Professor Fiseha, Nicole is a Co-Investigator on a three-year, £500,000 project entitled "Addressing the Crisis of Governance in the Horn of Africa" which is funded by the African Research Universities Alliance and the Global Challenged Research Fund (UK). The project aims to strengthen the Centre of Excellence in Good Governance, based at Addis Ababa University, and address the crisis of governance in the Horn of Africa through generating research on federalism, devolution and inclusive political institutions in the region.


2020 “From a 'Regional Party' to the Gates of State House: The resurgence of the UPND,” in T. Banda, O. Kaaba, M. Hinfelaar and M. Ndulo (eds.), Democracy and electoral politics in Zambia, (Leiden: Brill)

2019 “Zimbabwe: the coup that never was, and the election that could have been,” African Affairs, Volume 118, Issue 472, July 2019, Pages 580–596, with Nic Cheeseman and Simukai Tinhu

2019 “Opposition Party Coalitions,” in G. Lynch and P. van Doepp (eds.), Handbook of Democratization in Africa, (London: Routledge)

2018 “Book Review: Understanding Zimbabwe's surprising 2013 election,” Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 44, No. 5, pp. 967-8

2016 “Challenging dominance: The opposition, the coalition and the 2016 election in Uganda”, Journal of Eastern African Studies, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 749-768.

2013 “Engaging with the Media on APRM Issues: a Civil Society Guide,” South African Institute of International Affairs, Johannesburg, 2013

2011 “Implementing the APRM: Views from Civil Society, South Africa Report," Y. Turianskyi, S. Gruzd, T. Petlane, N. Beardsworth, R. Richards, O. Nzewi, J. Grey-Johnson, and O. Tungwarira, South African Institute of International Affairs, Johannesburg (2011)