Faculty & Research
The School
Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship

Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship

Dr Nic Cheeseman

Position: Director, Oxford African Studies Centre

Primary Institution: Oxford African Studies Centre

Secondary Institution: Department of Politics and International Relations

Expertise for Impact

Nic Cheeseman is the Director of the African Studies Centre and an Associate Professor in the Politics Department. His own research is focused around democracy in Africa, with a particular focus on Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, and Ghana. His doctoral work looked at how leaders sought to build and maintain power in the one-party states of Kenya and Zambia. Subsequently, his research has addressed questions such as what happens when ruling parties lose power, whether paying taxes makes citizens less tolerant of corruption, whether populism is an effective electoral strategy in Africa, and how political systems can be designed to prevent political competition from leading to ethnic violence. Through this work, he is engaged with various stakeholders, ranging from the Department for International Development (DFID) to the Government of Lagos.


Nic Cheeseman is an Associate Professor in African Politics and Director of the African Studies Centre. He works in the field of comparative politics with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa and processes of democratisation. Cheeseman is also the joint editor of African Affairs, writes a regular column for the Saturday Nation (East and Central Africa’s best-selling newspaper), and is the founder of, a website dedicated to fostering an online community of people that are interested in, and care about, the state of democracy in Africa. He has conducted work in Ghana, Malawi, and Nigeria but his main country expertise is in Kenya and Zambia. Always keen to work with policymakers, he has advised NGOs such as the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and CLEEN in Nigeria and delivered talks and consultancy services to the Cabinet Office, Foreign Office, and Department for International Development of the UK Government, as well as the Instituto Rio Branco of the Brazilian Government, the Pan African Parliament and the World Bank.

Impact Area: Peace & Human Rights

Impact Sub-Area: Human Rights

Primary Region(s) of Impact: Africa (Specific Countries: Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria)

Relevant Publication

Cheeseman, N. (2010). African Elections as Vehicles for Change. Journal of Democracy 21(4): 139-153.