David Threlfall

David Threlfall

PhD Researcher

Department of Media and Communications

Connect with me

English, French, German
Key Expertise
Rhetoric, Political communication, Ideology

About me

Project Title

Tracing the evolution of “rhetorical political economy” in major political party rhetoric in the UK and USA, 1945-2024: a multi-method comparative conceptual and ideological analysis

Research Topic

David is interested in how politicians talk about the economy, and whether the way they talk about it—rhetorical political economy—has changed over time. His doctoral thesis focuses (comparatively) on the political economic rhetoric of the two major parties in the UK and USA since 1945. In his PhD project he employs rhetorical political analysis in combination with theoretical and empirical insight from conceptual history (a subdiscipline within intellectual history), and also draws on techniques from computer-assisted/quantitative text analysis, predominantly the quanteda package in R. David’s research sits at the intersection of political communication, political theory and political history. His work likewise touches on questions of political ideology, political economy, comparative politics and the history of science and technology. He is interested in a range of methodologies for textual analysis, both qualitative and quantitative. Finally, David moonlights in public administration and public policy, particularly policy process theory and the (Australian) policy cycle.


David is in the second year of his PhD at LSE. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in politics and public policy, and is collaborating on research work with colleagues at UNSW and the University of Melbourne in Australia. Before joining the LSE, David completed an MPhil in International Relations and Politics from the University of Cambridge (Distinction), where he received a prize from the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) for the highest dissertation score in the cohort, and the St Edmund’s College Prize in recognition of academic excellence. He completed his undergraduate study at the University of Melbourne. He holds a fourth-year Honours Degree in Politics and International Studies, a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and French, and a Diploma of Languages in German (all First Class Honours). David returned to study in 2019 after working for six years at the intersection of the higher education sector and government. From 2017 to 2019 he was chief of staff at the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG). As chief of staff, David worked on organisational strategy, wrote speeches and lectures, contributed to submissions to government, was involved in the daily management of the School, and worked closely with civil service leaders in New Zealand and across the Australian federal and state & territory administrations. From 2013 to 2017, David worked in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office at the University of Melbourne, supporting Professor Glyn Davis AC. David provided research assistance for a number of public policy projects, and before this worked in communications. Previously, David held roles in the Victorian Department of Education, and as a parliamentary intern with the Victorian State Parliament. The LSE supports David’s doctoral studies through an LSE PhD Studentship. David is also an inaugural Ramsay Postgraduate Scholar, and in this capacity receives support from the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation.


Dr Nick Anstead and Dr Damian Tambini

Expertise Details

Rhetoric; Political communication; Ideology; Political economy; R quanteda



  • Althaus, C, Ball, S, Bridgman, P, Davis, G and D Threlfall 2023. The Australian Policy Handbook: A Practical Guide to the Policymaking Process (7th edn), Routledge.

Book chapters

  • Althaus, C and D Threlfall 2021. ‘The policy cycle and policy theory: from theory building to policy making’, in B Hildreth, G Miller, and E Lindquist (eds), Routledge Handbook of Public Administration (4th edn), Routledge, chapter 21.
  • Threlfall, D and C Althaus 2021. ‘A quixotic quest: making theory speak to practice’ in T Mercer, R Ayres, B Head, and J Wanna. (eds), Learning policy, doing policy: the interaction between policy theory, policy practice and policy teaching, Australian National University (ANU) Press ANZSOG Series, chapter 2, pp. 29-48.

 Selected op-eds and long-form writing

 Public lectures and conference presentations

  • Threlfall, D and C Althaus 2018. ‘Winter is coming: lessons for public servants from Westeros’, address at IPAA National Conference, Melbourne, 17 October.
  • Threlfall, D and C Althaus 2018. ‘A quixotic quest: making theory speak to practice’, ANZSOG/APS workshop lecture, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra, 9 July.



Executive Leadership and Management (PPMN90006), The University of Melbourne

Teaching assistant offering constructive feedback and analytical guidance to master’s students in an intensive six-day capstone subject for the Master of Public Policy and Management. This course was delivered online, and I also managed the Zoom connection and any IT issues for the cohort (70 students).