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Politics and International Relations (PIR): People


Harshan Kumarasingham

Harshan Kumarasingham
Dr Harshan Kumarasingham BA (Hons), MA, PhD, FRHistS
Lecturer in British Politics
3.04 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0) 131 651 4750
Research Interests
British Politics, Decolonisation, Comparative Politics, Political History, South Asia, Commonwealth Politics and History, Monarchy, Australasia, British Empire, Constitutional Politics, Constitutional History, Parliamentary Studies, Westminster Model, State-Building, South-East Asia, Executive Power

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Wednesday 2-4pm (during semester)

Brief Biography and Research Interests

Dr Harshan Kumarasingham is from New Zealand where he read History and Politics completing his doctorate in Comparative Politics at Victoria University of Wellington.  His work, ecompassing the disciplines of Politics, History and Law, is wide-ranging covering British Politics and History; Comparative Politics and History, particulary of the former British Empire and Commonwealth; South Asian studies; Constitutional history and politics; Executive Power;  State-Building and Decolonization; Parliamentary issues; the Crown; and the Westminster model and its export across the world.

Before coming to Edinburgh Harshan held many international appointments including Smuts Fellow in Commonwealth Studies at the University of Cambridge, Alexander von Humboldt Fellow and Lecturer in Comparative Politics at Ludwig Maximilan University in Munich, Rydon Fellow at King's College London and Endeavour Research Fellow at the University of Sydney.

Harshan remains a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London and also sits on their Advisory Board.  He is also an Affiliated Scholar at the Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge.

Outside of PIR in Edinburgh he is a member of the Edinburgh Centre of Constitutional Law and the Global and Transnational Research Group.


Also see my Academia page


A Political Legacy of the British Empire - Power and the Parliamentary System in Post-Colonial India and Sri Lanka, London: I.B. Tauris, 2013

Onward with Executive Power - Lessons from New Zealand, Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington/Institute of Policy Studies, 2010 

Edited Books

Constitution-Making in Asia - Decolonisation and State-Building in the Aftermath of the British Empire, London: Routledge, 2016

The Road to Temple Trees - Sir Ivor Jennings and the Constitutional Development of Ceylon, Colombo: Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2015

Constitution-Maker - Selected Writings of Sir Ivor JenningsCambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015


Sir Ivor Jennings' 'The Conversion of History into Law', American Journal of Legal History, vol. 56, no. 1, 2016

Losing an Empire and Building a Role: The Queen, Geopolitics and the Construction of the Commonwealth Headship at the Lusaka Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, 1979, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, vol. 43, no. 1, 2015 (co-authored with Ruth Craggs)

Semi-Presidential Regimes - Some Lessons for Australian Republicans?, The Round Table - The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairsvol. 103, no. 4, 2014 (co-authored with John Power)

Elite Patronage over Party Democracy - High Politics in Sri Lanka following Independence, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, vol. 52, no. 1, 2014

Exporting Executive Accountability? Westminster Legacies of Executive Power, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 66, no. 3, 2013

The 'Tropical Dominions' - The Appeal of Dominion Status in the Decolonisation of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, vol. 23, 2013

Constrained Parliamentarism in the New Zealand Regime, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, vol. 51, no. 2, 2013 (co-authored with John Power)

'The Jewel of the East Yet Has its Flaws' - The Deceptive Tranquility of Sri Lankan Independence, Heidelberg Papers in South Asian and Comparative Politics,  2013

The Indian Version of First Among Equals  Executive Power during the First Decade of Independence, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 44, no. 4, 2010

Independence and Identity Ignored? New Zealand's Reactions to the Statute of Westminster, National Identities, vol. 12, no. 2, 2010

Executive Power - 60 Years on has anything changed?, Policy Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 4, 2010 

Unicameralism: The Strange Eventful Death of the Legislative Council of New Zealand, Australasian Parliamentary Review, vol. 25, no. 2, 2010

Peter Fraser, Political Science, vol. 60, no. 2, 2008

'For the Good of the Party': An Analysis of the Fall of British Conservative Prime Ministers from Chamberlain to Thatcher, Political Science, vol. 58, no. 2, 2006

A Democratic Paradox: The Communalisation of Politics in Ceylon, 1911-1948, Asian Affairs, vol. XXXVII, no. III, 2006

The 'New Commonwealth' 1947-49: A New Zealand Perspective on Indian joining the Commonwealth, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, vol. 95, no. 385, 2006


"Eastminster - Decolonisation and State-Building in British Asia" in H.Kumarasingham (ed.), Constitution-Making in Asia - Decolonisation and State-Building in the Aftermath of the British Empire, London: Routledge, 2016

"A New Monarchy for a New Commonwealth? Monarchy and the Consequences of Republican India" in Robert Aldrich and Cindy McCreery (eds.), Crowns and Colonies - European Monarchies and Overseas Empires, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016

"Constrained Parliamentarism - Australia and New Zealand Compared" (co-authored with John Power) in John Wanna et al (eds.), New Accountabilities, New Challenges, Canberra: ANU Press, 2015

"What if New Zealand had re-intriduced an Upper House?" in Stephen Levine (ed.), New Zealand as it Might Have Been 2, Wellington: VUP, 2010

Topics interested in supervising

Dr Kumarasingham is happy to discuss supervising PhD applicants interested in the following areas: - British Politics and Institutions - Westminster Model - Parliamentary Systems - Regime Types - Decolonisation - Modern British Political History - Imperial and Commonwealth History and Politics - South Asian History and Politics - Constitutional History and Politics - Commonwealth Comparative Politics - especially Australasia and Asia

If you are interested in being supervised by Harshan Kumarasingham, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Politics; PhD in South Asian Studies; MPhil in Canadian Studies; MSc (R) Politics; MSc (R) in South Asian Studies