The Contemporary Political Theory Research Group was founded in October 2009, as the development of political theory at postgraduate level and growth in academic staff numbers created the critical mass it required. The group organizes its activities collectively, and its work focuses on issues concerning contemporary pluralism, liberalism, democratic theory and radical politics. It brings together staff working in contemporary Continental philosophy, normative political theory, and American pragmatism, and its current and former postgraduate members include students working on normative concepts of responsibility in the context of globalization, post-existentialist political theory, the event in Marxist philosophy, and the concept of meaningful work. The group also has ties to the College’s interdepartmental Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC). The main PIR academics involved in the group are political theorists Prof. Nathan Widder, Dr. Jonathan Seglow, and Dr. Michael Bacon, as well as members of the College's Philosophy team (now incorporated into the department), Prof. Anne Sheppard, Dr. Neil Gascoigne, and Dr. Henry Somers-Hall.
The group runs a regular reading group from the College’s Bedford Square Building in central London, and has hosted visits by a number of renowned political theorists and philosophers including William E. Connolly (Johns Hopkins), Jane Bennett (Johns Hopkins), Charlotte Epstein (Sydney), Emma Ingala (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) and Gavin Rae (American University of Cairo). Recent conferences organized by the group include ‘The Margins of Citizenship’ (in collaboration with the Department of Politics, University of Leicester), ‘Time, Politics and Becoming: A One-Day Conference on William E. Connolly’s A World of Becoming’ (in collaboration with the Department of Politics, Exeter University) and 'Religious Accommodation: From Theory to Practice'. In June 2013 it hosted the second annual London Conference in Critical Thought.