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Dr Geoff Andrews

Profile summary

Professional biography

Geoff Andrews was educated at Ruskin College, Oxford and University College, Cardiff, with a PhD from Kingston University. He joined The Open University as Staff Tutor in 2000, having previously been Senior Lecturer in Politics at The University of Hertfordshire. He has also taught for several years at the University of Oxford's Department for Continuing Education.

He served as the Social Science Faculty’s Media Fellow between 2011-2015, working on OU-BBC co-productions with colleagues from the Open Media Unit.

Research interests

Dr Andrews has researched and published widely on the history of political ideas and movements, with particular interests in the history of British communism, aspects of labour history, Italian political history and political biography. His latest book, Agent Moliere: The Life of John Cairncross: the Fifth Man of the Cambridge Spy Circle (2020) is the first full study of the  elusive 'fifth man' and situates Cairncross's  life in a wider context than earlier secondary accounts. It also challenges misrepresentations (including his depictions in literature) of his life and politics while taking his scholarship seriously. It follows an earlier biography of the Cambridge communist James Klugmann (The Shadow Man, 2015) which explored the political commitments of those attracted to communism in Britain in the 1930s, focusing on the conflicts of loyalties faced by communist intellectuals of the period. Both books draw on a range of different historical sources, personal archives and memoirs, and made critical use of MI5 and other security service files. 

His next book is a biographical study of Cyril Lakin, the Welsh  journalist, broadcaster and politician. Lakin's different worlds cut across the spheres of literature, the press and politics and his life was partly shaped by his experience of two world wars. The book will provide new insight on the history of the Welsh political and business elite (notably through his connection to the Berry brothers, the Welsh press barons) as well as the literary scene of the 1930s. It will be published in 2021 as part of Parthian's Modern Wales series. 

In addition to his ongoing research on the 1930s, Dr Andrews is preparing a grant bid to investigate the work of the 19thCentury social commentator and skilled artisan Thomas Wright. Now a largely forgotten figure, Wright published groundbreaking works from first-hand experience on the conditions of the working classes at important moments of social and political change. His writings go beyond simple categories and include profound social commentary on the key questions of the day. Initially well-regarded among contemporaries, his work has since been forgotten or interpreted within restrictive parameters, notably in the ‘labour aristocracy’ thesis originally developed by Eric Hobsbawm. This research is intended to rediscover the life and work of Wright, offer fresh insight into his writings and assess his significance in light of current debates in the Labour Party opened up by 'Blue Labour' among others.

Dr Andrews's work on Italian history and politics has included two books, The Slow Food Story: Politics and Pleasure (2008), (also published in Italian and North American editions) and Not a Normal Country: Italy After Berlusconi (2005), (published in Italian as Un paese anormale (2006)). His research in this area had wide public recognition as an expert and regular commentator on Italian politics for a range of newspapers and TV news channels, and as an occasional contributor to the Food Programme on BBC Radio 4.

PhD supervision

Geoff Andrews welcomes applications from PhD students working on contemporary political ideas and movements and aspects of labour history.

Teaching interests

Dr Andrews has been closely involved with the production of several Open University politics modules. These include Modern Political Ideas (DD316) which he currently chairs. He has also made substantial contributions to Understanding Politics: Ideas and Institutions in the Modern World (DD211), Power, Dissent, Equality: Understanding Contemporary Politics (DD203) and Living Political Ideas (DD306). He has contributed to other interdisciplinary modules, including Introducing the Social Sciences (DD102) and Investigating the Information Society: Social Science in Action (DXR220), a residential school module.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Citizenship, Identifies and Governance (CCIG)CentreFaculty of Social Sciences


Abe Lazarus and the Lost World of British Communism (2017-04-01)
Andrews, Geoff
History Workshop Journal, 83(1) (pp. 272-288)

Agent Molière: The Life of John Cairncross, the Fifth Man of the Cambridge Spy Circle (2020-02-06)
Andrews, Geoff
ISBN : 978-1-78831-130-4 | Publisher : I. B. Tauris | Published : London

The Shadow Man: At the Heart of the Cambridge Spy Circle (2015-09-29)
Andrews, Geoff
ISBN : 978-1-78453-166-9 | Publisher : I.B.Tauris | Published : London

Slow Food: Una storia tra politica e piacere (2010-04-09)
Andrews, Geoff
ISBN : 978-88-15-13707-4 | Publisher : Il Mulino | Published : Bologna, Italy

The Slow Food Story: Politics and Pleasure (2008)
Andrews, Geoff
ISBN : 978074532744 | Publisher : Pluto Press | Published : London

Not a Normal Country: Italy After Berlusconi (2005-07-20)
Andrews, Geoff
ISBN : 0-7453-2367-7 | Publisher : Pluto Press | Published : London

The Communist Party of Great Britain and Eurocommunism: A Brief Encounter (2016-12-01)
Andrews, Geoff
In: Di Palma, Francesco and Mueller, Wolfgang eds. Kommunismus und Europa: Europapolitik und -vorstellungen europäischer kommunistischer Parteien im Kalten Krieg (pp. 221-240)
ISBN : 978-3-506-77710-2 | Publisher : Ferdinand Schöningh | Published : Paderborn

Ramelson (former name Rachmilevitch), Baruch [Bert], (1910–1994) (2018-10-11)
Andrews, Geoff
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography