Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Melbourne

About me

I am a Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Melbourne. 

I examine the changing nature of political executives. My research explores the institutional development of ministers’ offices and the rise of political advisers wedged between the nexus of politics and administration. Other research interests include elections,  party manifestoes, policy fulfilment, and voter behaviour. Much of my work is comparative, commonly among the four traditional Westminster family members: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. My interests span issues such as the revolving door of politics, politicisation, institutional change, policy promises, and government transparency and accountability. 

I completed my PhD at the KU Leuven Public Governance Institute in Belgium. Prior to moving to Brussels, I worked at the University of Melbourne for six years in several roles, including in Strategy and Government Relations in the Chancellery, Media and Communications at the Melbourne School of Government, and Teaching Assistant at the School of Social and Political Sciences. In other professional work, I also supported the PoliticsHQ show on Sky News Australia (2016-2018) and spent a year supporting a foreign aid project in Solomon Islands (2015).


Email me at heath.pickering@unimelb.edu.au 

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Heath Pickering


Peer-reviewed articles

Pickering, H., Craft, J., & Brans, M. 2024. Ministerial Advisers as Power Resources: Exploring Expansion, Stability, and Contraction in Westminster Ministers’ Offices, Parliamentary Affairs, 77(2), 305-327. (including supplementary material: ministerial adviser datasets and also features of ministers' offices in the four classic Westminster countries)

Orchard, D., Gouglas, A., & Pickering, H. 2024. Life after Whitehall: The Career Moves of British Special Advisers, The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 26(1), 149-161.

Pickering, H., Bellens, T., & Brans, M. 2023. The Prime Minister's Chief-of-Staff: A Profile and Changing Trends in Westminster Democracies, 1990-2021. Governance, 1-19.

Brenton, S., & Pickering, H. 2022. Trustworthiness, Stability and Productivity of Minority Governments in Australia, Parliamentary Affairs, 75(2), 308-339.

Krajňák, S., Staronova, K., & Pickering, H. 2020. Ministerial Advisers in Slovakia: Profiles and Career Paths, 2010–2020, NISPAcee Journal of Public Administration and Policy, 13(2), 115-140. 

Book chapters

Pickering, H., Brans., & Peters, B. G. 2023. The comparative method in ministerial adviser research. In R. Shaw (eds), Handbook on Ministerial and Political Advisers. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 137-154.

Meert, A., Pickering, H., Brans., & Gouglas, A. 2023. Systematic Literature Reviews: Opportunities and limits in ministerial adviser research. In R. Shaw (eds), Handbook on Ministerial and Political Advisers. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 173-195.

Pickering, H. 2023. Glossary: common terms and concepts found in the literature on ministerial and political advisers. In R. Shaw (eds), Handbook on Ministerial and Political Advisers. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 419-426.

Book reviews

Pickering, H. 2022. Advising Governments in the Westminster Tradition: Policy Advisory Systems in Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand, by Jonathan Craft and John Halligan, Public Administration Review, 82(4), 778-780 (book review).

Pickering, H. & Brans, M. 2020. Government ministers and their "Special Advisers", Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 30(3), 521–523 (double book review).

Articles in progress (with other co-authors)

Executive Advisory and Support Offices: Exploring the Institutional Architecture of Ministers’ Offices

Sample of op-ed articles

Pickering, H & Gouglas, T 2023. Most Special Advisers become lobbyists after leaving government – new research, 28 February, The Conversation, London

Pickering, H 2020. Covid-19 to entrench 'big government' policies for good, 28 April, The Mandarin, Canberra

Pickering, H 2019. Why Canada has so many political advisers, 17 October, The Conversation, Toronto

Pickering, H 2018. Surviving Australian politics: 4 reforms to stop ousting leaders, 30 August, Pursuit, Melbourne

Pickering, H 2017. Australia’s Referendum Drought, 16 August, Pursuit, Melbourne

Brenton, S & Pickering, H 2016. The rise of LGBTIQ Politicians, 30 June, Election Watch, Melbourne 

Pickering, H 2016. Brexit proves Baby Boomers should get less of a vote, 27 June, VICE

Teaching experience

Subject coordinator / co-coordinator at the University of Melbourne, Australia

2024 Politics and the Media (undergraduate level)

2024 Governance (graduate level)

2024 Business and Government (graduate level)

Teaching Assistant in the Public Governance Institute, KU Leuven, Belgium

202122 Policy Analysis (undergraduate level)

201920 Comparative Public Policy in Europe  (graduate level)

Methods and techniques

I have published academic research using and/or explaining the following methods and techniques:

Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)

Demographic analysis (sometimes called Prosopography)

Systematic Literature Review (including  the systematic scoping review)

Comparative Methods

Regression analysis

Formulating typologies and indices

Case studies

I am also a member of the 'Executive Triangle' research network. Follow the link here to learn more about our research and activities.