DOWNES James Floyd

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Dr. James F. Downes is an Assistant Professor (I) and Programme Leader (Head) of the Politics and Public Administration Programme who specializes in Comparative Politics & International Relations at the Hong Kong Metropolitan University (HKMU). He is also a Research Fellow in the Public and Social Policy Research Centre at HKMU.

Dr. Downes is a Senior Research Fellow (Honorary) at The Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). Dr. Downes was previously Head of The Populism Research Unit at CARR (2020-2022). Dr. Downes holds Honorary Research Fellowships in the Global Europe Centre at the Brussels School of International Studies/ University of Kent (UK/Belgium) alongside the Think Tank, The Centre for Research & Social Progress (Italy). He is a Council Member & Director of the Hong Kong Political Science Association (HKPSA).

His research interests are diverse and examine Populism, right-wing party competition on immigration in Europe and the future of international organizations, such as the European Union (EU) via EU-China BRI Relations. These research areas are currently being developed into applications to the Research Grants Council (RGC) alongside large scale collaborative international research grants, such as the successful 2022-2025 Jean Monnet Centres of Excellence Project (€100,000 Approved) funded via the European Commission. Dr. Downes has also received funding for his research from the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR). He has also obtained Certificates in Advanced Statistics and Quantitative Text Analysis from the Department of Politics & International Relations at The University of Oxford, alongside the Hertie School Data Science Lab (Germany).

Dr. Downes has published research in world leading political science journals and outlets, such as in JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, Electoral Studies, Routledge (Contemporary China Series), LSE EUROPP, E-International Relations, Routledge (Handbook of Non-Violent Extremism) and The Routledge Handbook of Far-Right Extremism in Europe. Dr. Downes has a forthcoming co-authored book with Columbia University Press/ibidem Press titled: “The Rise of the Radical Right in Italy” which will be published in 2023. 

Dr. Downes is an award-winning teacher and places a high importance on teaching Comparative Politics, International Relations and Quantitative Research Methods based courses in the Social Sciences, at both the Undergraduate and Postgraduate Levels. His outstanding teaching excellence has been recognised most recently with awards from the prestigious CUHK Vice-Chancellor’s Exemplary Teaching Award (2022) and the CUHK Faculty of Social Science Exemplary Teaching Award (2022).

Previously, Dr. Downes was a Lecturer in Comparative Politics & Global Studies, alongside an Adjunct Professor on the MSSc in Greater China Programme (Government & Politics) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was also the Head (Chair) of the Undergraduate Admissions & PR Panel (2018-2022) and served on the ExCo of the MPUP Programme in Public Policy, in the Department of Government and Public Administration at CUHK. Dr. Downes has extensive University Management expertise, having served on the Panel of Judges for Student Discipline for the CUHK Senate and having served as the Head (Chair) of the Faculty of Social Sciences Student Discipline Committee. 

Dr. Downes completed his PhD in Comparative Politics (2017) at the University of Kent, where he was a PhD 50th Anniversary Research Scholar and a Visiting PhD Researcher at The Brussels School of International Studies. He was also a Visiting Scholar at The European Union Academic Programme Hong Kong and previously worked in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at The University of Hong Kong. Dr. Downes has also obtained a Professional Certificate in Teaching Excellence from The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Dr. Downes has completed a Postgraduate Degree in Higher Education Teaching from The University of Kent and is an Associate Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy. Furthermore, Dr. Downes is also currently in the process of developing a new and original undergraduate level textbook for SAGE Publishers which is titled: “Understanding Politics (2024).”

Dr. Downes frequently provides political analysis and media commentary for CNBC on issues relating to EU politics (Brexit & Populism) alongside British Politics. He has also conducted interviews on issues relating to International Politics for prestigious media outlets such as CNN, BBC, Politico, El País, South China Morning Post, France 24, MingPao, Hong Kong Economic Journal and for The Chinese General Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Downes conducts regular consultancy relating to topics such as Populism, Brexit, EU Politics & Survey Research in both the Public and Private sectors. Before becoming an academic, he had a brief stint in market research as a political pollster for YouGov, alongside the UK in a Changing Europe Project as a Researcher for Professor Matthew Goodwin. He has provided polling advice to political parties such as The Liberal Democrats, alongside Think Tanks in British Politics. He has previously provided consultancy for the Local Democracy Dashboard, a ‘big data’ British Politics project that is based at LSE.

Research interests

  • Populism
  • European Politics
  • European Union Governance
  • EU-China Relations (BRI)
  • Public Policy (Immigration)
  • Brexit
  • Global Governance


BA Hons (First Class Honours) Department of Government, University of Essex, MA Department of Government, University of Essex, PhD Kent, Teaching Certificate of Excellence CUHK, AFHEA


Selected Research Grants & Awards:

2023: RGC- Faculty Development Scheme (FDS/RGC). Project Title: "The Future of the EU in an Era of COVID-19, Populism & War." Role: Principal Investigator (Grant Application in Progress: Proposal in Preparation).

2023: $450,000 HKD. General Research Fund (GRF). Project Title: “The Impact of China’s Belt & Road Initiative.” Role: Co-Investigator. Principal Investigator: Dr. Mathew Wong (EdUHK). Co-Investigators: Prof. Peter Cheung (EduHK) & Dr. Yin Weiwen (University of Macau). (Grant Application in Progress: Proposal in Preparation).

2022-2025: €100,000 ($800,000 HKD). Jean Monnet Centres of Excellence Project. (Erasmus +: EU Commission Grant). Role: Co-Investigator. (Department of Government & International Studies, HKBU). Project Title: “The COVID-19 Pandemic: Political & Institutional Trust in Europe & Asia.” Principal Investigators: Prof. Alistair Cole & Dr. Dionysios Stivas (HKBU) (Approved).

2022: Top Cited Article (2020–2021) JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies. “The Looming Refugee Crisis in the EU: Right-Wing Party Competition and Strategic Positioning.” JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies.

2022: Awarded the CUHK Vice-Chancellor’s Exemplary Teaching Award (2021). The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

2022: Awarded the Faculty of Social Science Exemplary Teaching Award (2021). (Ranked Number 1 For Outstanding Teaching). Faculty of Social Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

2022: $5,200 HKD. The Chinese University of Hong Kong Research Grant. University of Oxford, Spring School in Advanced Research Methods. Course: Quantitative Text Analysis.

2021: £200. European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) General Conference Grant. ECPR: Extremism & Democracy Steering Group.

2020: $33,000 HKD. Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies Small Research Grant. International Affairs Research Centre. CUHK. 

2017: $30,000 HKD. European Commission Grant (EUAP) European Union Academic Programme Hong Kong.

2013-2016: $600,000 HKD (£60,000). PhD 50th Anniversary Research Scholarship, School of Politics & International Relations, University of Kent.


Available for PhD Supervision:

•I would be able to supervise the following PhD Research Projects relating to my areas of expertise in Comparative Politics & International Relations:

• Populism in European/Global Politics

• European Union (EU) Governance

• Global Politics (International Relations, International Organizations & Global Political Economy)

• EU- China Relations (BRI Related Themes)

• Public Policy: Immigration



  • Journal Reviewer: Journal of Politics; European Journal of Political Research (EJPR); Electoral Studies; JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies; Journal of Contemporary European Research (JCER)
  • Member: European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) Extremism and Democracy Standing Group
  • Book Reviewer: Routledge; SAGE

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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