The Constitution Unit

The Constitution Unit conducts timely, rigorous, independent research into constitutional change and the reform of political institutions. Our research has significant real-world impact, informing policy-makers engaged in such changes – both in the United Kingdom and around the world.

Recent projects have included research into public attitudes to the post-Brexit constitution (which included holding a citizens’ assembly on UK democracy), examining how a referendum on Northern Ireland’s constitutional future would best be conducted, options for House of Lords reform, and a summary report with the Institute for Government outlining a ‘menu’ of constitutional reforms.

The Constitution Unit was founded in 1995 to conduct detailed research and planning on constitutional reform in the UK. We continue to fulfil that remit, but also assess the effects of reforms that have taken place, and research constitutional and political arrangements beyond the UK.

The Constitution Unit is led by Director Professor Meg Russell FBA, with Professor Alan Renwick as Deputy Director.


Latest reports

Delivering House of Commons reform

This report from UK think tank The Constitution Unit explores different institutional vehicles for developing and delivering proposals for House of Commons reform. Recent years have seen many proposals for reforming the internal procedures of the House of Commons, against a backdrop of clear public dissatisfaction with parliament. Less attention has been given to the...

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Trust in public life

This report from UK think tank The Constitution Unit argues that there is an urgent need to rebuild the system for upholding standards in public life. Constitutional watchdogs are the guardians of the system for upholding standards. This project concerns seven constitutional watchdogs which monitor the conduct of the executive: the Advisory Committee on Business...

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The future of democracy in the UK

This report from UK think tank the Constitution Unit looks at public attitudes and policy responses to democracy in the UK. Over the last three years, the Constitution Unit has conducted detailed research into public attitudes to democracy in the UK. This has comprised two large-scale surveys of the UK population, conducted in summer 2021...

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MPs’ staff, the unsung heroes

This report from UK think tank the Constitution Unit provides new insights into who works for MPs. A good deal is known about the 650 MPs who sit in the House of Commons, and they are frequently the focus of research. Far less is known about the over 3,500 people who work for them across...

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Perspectives on the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement

This report from UK think tank the Constitution Unit looks at diverse views from 1998–2023. The current impasse at Stormont and the political disruption caused by Brexit and the Protocol in recent years point to a continued need to understand the diverse viewpoints that exist on this key document from the Northern Ireland peace process....

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Public preferences for integrity and accountability in politics

This report from UK think tank the Constitution Unit provides the results of a second survey of the UK population on integrity in politics. Trust in politicians is at a low ebb and the health of the UK democracy matters as much to voters as issues such as crime and immigration, according to a new...

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House of Lords reform

This report from UK think tank the Constitution Unit looks at House of Lords reform. The House of Lords is still an entirely unelected body, leading many to see it as an outdated throwback to earlier times. But the institution is in fact far more complex than that. It has evolved gradually over centuries and,...

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Future challenges for the monarchy

This report from UK think tank the Constitution Unit looks at the role of the monarchy in our political system. The Queen’s death has naturally prompted reflection on the role of the monarchy in our political system. The monarchy is tightly regulated by law and by convention. Laws passed by parliament regulate the rules of...

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The coronation of Charles III

This report from UK think tank the Constitution Unit looks at every coronation since that of George IV in 1821 and how much the ceremony has changed. The UK is the only monarchy in Europe to retain a religious coronation. Kings and Queens have been anointed with holy oil and crowned in Westminster Abbey in...

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Reforming the prerogative

This report from UK think tank the Constitution Unit looks at the operation of prerogative powers - past, present and future - and proposals for reform. This work provides a comprehensive guide to the operation of prerogative powers - past, present and future - and proposals for reform. The prerogative derives from the original executive...

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Parliament’s watchdogs

This report from UK think tank the Constitution Unit looks at the independence and accountability of five constitutional regulators. Constitutional watchdogs have emerged in the UK as important overseers of political propriety and the democratic process. But they have developed haphazardly, and vary in the ways they are independent and accountable. There is an obvious...

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Northern Ireland’s political future

This report from UK think tank the Constitution Unit looks at whether the NI power-sharing arrangements that the Agreement established can survive. This project looks at the state of Northern Ireland politics as the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement approaches its quarter-century. It asks whether and how the power-sharing arrangements that the Agreement established can survive...

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Report of the Citizens’ Assembly on democracy in the UK

This report from UK think tank the Constitution Unit is the final report of the Citizens Assembly on Democracy and hopes to inform debates about democracy. The Citizens’ Assembly on Democracy in the UK brought together 67 members of the public from across the United Kingdom over six online weekends between 18 September and 12...

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What kind of democracy do people want?

This report from UK think tank the Constitution Unit provides the results of a survey of the UK population on democracy in the UK after Brexit. The past decade in UK politics has raised fundamental questions about the kind of democracy we want to live in. What role should be played by referendums? Where should...

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Upcoming events

24 June 2024

Location: Online

Think tank: The Constitution Unit

Constitutional priorities for the next government

This conference hosted by UK think tank The Constitution Unit will discuss the constitutional priorities for the next government. Whatever the result of the forthcoming general election, the next government will face a number of important constitutional questions. Labour has committed to reforming the regulation of standards in public life, the House of Lords, and...

25 June 2024

Location: Online

Think tank: The Constitution Unit

Constitutional priorities for the next government

This conference hosted by UK think tank The Constitution Unit will discuss the constitutional priorities for the next government. 10:45am – 12:00pm The rule of law  The role of courts and judges has been controversial in recent years, with criticism of both domestic judges and the European Court of Human Rights. Several government bills have raised...