Professor Benjamin Reilly

Started at UWA: 2019

Political scientist changing the world one policy at a time  

My research findings have translated into direct policy changes in the real world, including democratisation and electoral reform in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Myanmar and Mongolia. Professor Benjamin Reilly

Professor Benjamin Reilly is a political scientist and academic at the UWA School of Social Sciences whose work focuses on democratisation and electoral reform in ethnically divided societies. 

Professor Reilly’s interest in the subject developed throughout his PhD research at the Australian National University (ANU), conducting periods of fieldwork in PNG, Fiji and Sir Lanka, and serving with the United Nations in Cambodia for the transitional 1993 election. This led him to undertake other positions working on international democracy assistance with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) in Stockholm and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New York. 

When Professor Reilly returned to academia, he ran the Australian Centre for Democratic Institutions at ANU before commencing his role as Dean of the Graduate Policy and International Affairs School at Murdoch University. Benjamin has also worked with the Australian Government, United Nations, international organisations, and held visiting appointments at Harvard University, Oxford University and Johns Hopkins University. He has authored and edited seven published books and over 100 scholarly papers. 

As well as researching issues of democracy and development, Professor Reilly regularly consults with governments around the Indo-Pacific region on these issues. He is currently working with electoral reform groups in Malaysia to produce a series of policy papers on political options for the new government in the wake of the historic first ever change of government in 2018. This kind of work bridges academic and real-world policy challenges and will involve the Public Policy Institute, the Perth USAsia Centre and the School of Social Sciences at UWA.

Professor Reilly sees it as a great thrill to put his scholarship directly into action when the opportunity arises and enjoys mentoring younger scholars to build cross-disciplinary linkages. 


  • PhD, Australian National University
  • Bachelor of Arts (Hons), (University of New South Wales) 

External policy projects:

  • ‘Strengthening the Rules-Based Order in Southeast Asia’ funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 
  • ‘Eroding Democracy and Authoritarian Resurgence’ lead by the Pan-University Network 

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Awarded a Visiting Fellowship at the German Institute of Global Area Studies (GIGA) (2014)

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Awarded a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship at the National Endowment for Democracy, USA (2010)

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Awarded a Nuffield Visiting Fellowship at Nuffield College, Oxford University (2007)

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Awarded a Fellowship at the East-West Centre, USA (2004)

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Awarded a Nuffield Visiting Fellowship at Nuffield College, Oxford University (2004)

Supervisor opportunities

Professor Benjamin Reilly has been supervising students for 15 years. He has supervised a range of theses on politics and governance in the Indo-Pacific, including on the growth of Islam in Papua New Guinea, peacemaking in the Solomon Islands, party-system development in India and Indonesia, and democratisation in East Asia. Professor Reilly is open to supervising new PhD candidates on issues of political institutions, democracy and development in the Indo-Pacific region. 

Contact Professor Benjamin Reilly

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Research repository

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Research repository