Professor Colin Copus

Job: Professor of Local Politics

Faculty: Business and Law

School/department: Department of Politics & Public Policy

Research group(s): Local Governance Research Unit

Address: The Gateway, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 257 7819




Personal profile

Colin Copus is Professor of Local Politics and Director of the Local Governance Research Unit in the Department of Politics and Public Policy, De Montfort University.  His research interests include: local governance, local party politics, local political leadership, local policy development, the changing role of the councillor and small party and independent politics.  Colin is the author of two major books: Leading the Localities: Executive Mayors in English Local Governance, Manchester University Press, 2006 and Party Politics and Local Government, Manchester University Press, 2004.  He is currently writing a book entitled: In Defence of Councillors.  He has published widely in academic journals.

Colin has worked closely with policy-makers and practitioners in central and local government and has expertise and experience in developing and providing seminars / workshops and accredited course for councillors and local government officers on a range of contemporary local government issues. He is a regular key note speaker at academic and policy conferences, nationally and internationally.

Colin has been the editor Local Government Studies since 2001.  He has served as a councillor on a London Borough council, a county and a district council and three parish councils.

Research group affiliations

Local Governance Research Unit

Publications and outputs 

Click here to see a full listing of Professor Colin Copus's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

Local politics, local political leadership, public participation; small party and independent politics, the developing role of the councillor, local governance networks and central and local government relationships.

Areas of teaching

Party politics, Local governance, local politics and democracy, public policy, politics, British government and politics. 




Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (Public Sector Stream).

Membership of external committees

  • Advisor on local government to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee of the House of Commons
  • Editor of Local Government Studies since 2001
  • Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Croatian and Comparative Public Administration (2011 - present)
  • Member of the Editorial Board of the Estonian Journal of Society and Politics (2009 - present)
  • Member of the Board of Experts for the Centre for Local Politics
  • Co-Director of the European Group of Public Administration: Permanent Study Group on Local Governance and Democracy (2006 - present)
  • Convenor for the Political Studies Association: Local Politics Specialist Group (January 2007 - 2010)
  • Member of the Public Administration Committee of the Joint Universities Council for Social and Public Administration (2005 - 2009)
  • Member of the European Research Network for Local Government

Membership of professional associations and societies

Political Studies Association.
Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators.

Conference attendance

Co-convened the EGPA-Study Group on Local Governance and Democracy annual meeting at the EGPA Annual Conference, Bucharest, September 2011.

Co-Convened an EGPA, Local Governance and Democracy Study Group workshop on reforms in local government at Frankfurt University 15- 18 June 2011.

Convened five panels of the Local Politics Specialist Group of the PSA at the 2011 Annual Conference in London.

Convened a workshop at De Montfort University, entitled: Small Parties and Independents in Local Government, funded by the Political Studies Association, 10th November 2010.

Co-Convened a workshop at the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations at The Hague to explore the policy implications and impacts of council amalgamations, July 2010.

Co-convened six panels of the Local Politics Specialist Group of the PSA at the 2010 Annual Conference in Edinburgh.

Co-convened a workshop at the ECPR joint-Sessions, entitled: ‘The Developing Role of the Councillor in a Comparative European Context:  Attitudes, Assumptions and Perceptions towards Aspects of Local Democracy’, in Munster, March 2010.

Co-convened workshop of the Local Governance and Democracy Study Group: entitled: Changing municipalities in the Information Age, at the EGPA Annual Conference in Malta, September 2009.

Co-convened four panels at the Political Studies Association Conference: Democracy, Governance and Conflict: Dilemmas of Theory and Practice, 1 - 3 April 2008, Swansea University: 1. Campaigning and Local Elections: The Case of Post-Devolution Scotland; 2. Councillors Performance and Politics: Issues in British Local Governance; 3. Elites and Institutions in Local Politics beyond Britain: European, International and Multi-Level Perspectives; and, 4. Institutions and European Local Politics: Perspectives from Eastern and Western Europe.

Conference convenor and organiser for the First Annual International Conference on Minor Parties, Independent Politicians, Voter Associations and Political Associations in Politics. ‘Politics beyond the mainstream’ 29, 30 November and 1 December 2007: Venue - University of Birmingham.  Jointly organised with Ghent University, Belgium and Queens University, Belfast.

Co-convenor of an International Workshop: The Direct Election of the Mayor: International Trends, Issues and Developments, 16 November 2007, Centre d'étude de la vie politique - Cevipol Université libre de Bruxelles (Cevipol), Brussells.  Attended by 25 invited, internationally based, academics with a special focus and interest on the direct election of the local political leader.

Workshop Director: European Consortium for Political Research, Joint Sessions, Helsinki, 7 - 12 May, 2007: Workshop 6. Comparative Perspectives on Local Party Politics; co-director: Professor Henk van der Kolk, University of Twente.

Co-Convenor: British Liberal Political Studies Group/ Liberal History Group Winter Conference 19-21 January 2007, INLOGOV, Birmingham University.  Jointly organised with the University of Wales, Institute, Cardiff.

Co-Convenor (with Professor Steve Leach from De Montfort University) of an ESRC competition seminar series entitled: The Future of Political Parties in Local Government; running in 2007 - 2008: 5 separate seminars and an end of series conference.

Co-Convenor for three panels accepted for PSA Annual Conference, Bath, 2007, entitled: Structuring Local Government and Politics; Local Electoral Politics in Britain and the USA; and, Local Politics as a Proving Ground in Britain and Europe.

Convenor for two panels at the PSA Annual Conference, Reading, 2006 entitled: Developments in Local Politics and, Urban and Regional Governance: A Challenge to Territorial Politics?

Consultancy work

Local politics, local government political management structures, overview and scrutiny, public consultation, local governance.

I’ve conducted consultancy projects/seminars for over 70 councils.

Current research students

Jane Scullion (FT) 1st supervisor

Michael Dadd (FT) 1st supervisor

Catherine Saltis (FT) 1st supervisor

Steve White (FT) 1st supervisor

Laura Wilkes (PT) 1st supervisor

David Simmonds (PT) 1st supervisor

Externally funded research grants information

Examples of recent research funding include:

A The Nuffield Trust award for a Comparative Study of Councillors in a European Context

A Leverhulme Trust award to explore the effect of Small Political Parties on Democratic Engagement

Economic & Social Research Council funding for an exploration of the future of political parties in local government

Plus commissioner research by the Electoral Commission and the DCLG

Internally funded research project information

RIF Funding: Exploring the Comparative Constitutional Status of Local Government: Policy Impact and Implications £ 8484.99.

Two PhD fees only bursary awards 2011.
REF Core Funding: £785 research into the developing role of the councillor.

REF Core Funding: £500 research into coalition formation in local government: Start February 2011.

REF Core Funding: £650 research into the political attitudes of Independent councillors, start date: September 2009, completion date July 2010.

PhD fees only bursary award: April 2010.

Professional esteem indicators

Editor: Local Government Studies, from 2003 to present
Editorial Board Member: Journal of Croatian and Comparative Public Administration 2011 – present
Editorial Board Member: Estonian Journal of Society and Politics 2009 to date

Journal Refereeing information:
British Journal of Politics and International Relations
Public Administration
Public Policy and Administration
Party Politics
European Journal of Political Research
Urban Affairs Review
Local Government Studies

Other Reviewing Activities
Refereed book proposals for Palgrave McMillan, Policy Press, Manchester University Press.Refereed ESRC grant applications and ESRC end of award reports.

Case studies

Colin has met with government ministers to provide advice on policy development in regard to local government. He is working closely with the Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, on codifying the relationship between central and local government. He has presented evidence to a range of committees and commissions exploring aspects of local government.

On-going work through out 2011 with Graham Allen MP Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, on the codification of the relationship between central and local government.

January 2011, Commissioned by the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee to draft a document to be used as an amendment to the Localism Bill, or as a report for discussion between the committee and government.

Private meeting, on 11th November, 2010, with the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee of the House of Commons to assist the committee in scoping a review into the prospects for codifying the relationship between central and local government.

Drafted a statement of principles (June 2010) for the Local Government Association, Independent group which was adopted by the group and is a statement to which all Independent councillors and candidates will be asked to adhere.

Gave evidence to theLambeth Co-operative Council Commission, 25th October 2010.

Invited key note speaker at the Neil Stewart Associates Conference: Local and Regional Enterprise Partnerships, 21st October 2010.  

Invited key note speaker at the Neil Stewart Associates Less Funding More Power: The Future of Local Government, Annual Leadership Conference, 22nd June 2010.

Invited key note speaker at the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA), Local Leadership Conference 2009, Nottingham, 5th November 2009.


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