Institute of Political Science

Thomas Altmeppen, M.A., M.A.

Thomas Altmeppen is research associate and junior lecturer at the Institute of Political Science in Tübingen. Prior to joining the research group “Middle East and Comparative Politics” (in April 2015), he studied political science and catholic theology at the University of Tübingen where he was awarded a double degree (Magister Artium & Staatsexamen), majoring in both subjects. In addition to his German degrees, Thomas also holds a MA in comparative religions from the University of London. Throughout his studies, which were funded by a “Cusanuswerk”-scholarship, he held various positions as a student assistant and was a long time member of the students’ union at the Institute of Political Science.

Inspired by an internship at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen (Germany), Thomas has a strong interest in assessing the promises and perils of interdisciplinary research, especially with regard to questions of terminology and concept formation. Against this backdrop, his MA dissertation was dedicated towards criticising contemporary accounts of secularity/-ism and, as a consequence, towards reconceptualising the relationship between religion and politics in a systems-theoretical fashion. Empirically, Thomas is also interested in the puzzling variety of contemporary dictatorships, processes of democratisation, and questions of non-democratic legitimacy that arise in these contexts.

Academic background

Since April 2015

Research associate and junior lecturer at the Institute of Political Science,

University of Tübingen

October 2012 to March 2015

Graduate studies in Political Science and Catholic Theology in Tübingen,

completed with both “Magister Artium” (very good) and “Staatsexamen” (with distinction)

Thesis on “The Art of Catching an Elephant: Tentative Conclusions about a Systems-Theoretical Framework for the Study of Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective”

December 2011 to September 2012

Graduate studies in Comparative Religion at Heythrop College, University of London; completed with an “MA in Abrahamic Religions” (with distinction)

Thesis on “Legitimising Democracy Religiously:

Comparing Christian and Muslim Authors in Defense of Democratic Rule”

October 2008 to September 2011

Undergraduate studies in Political Science, Catholic Theology, and English

Thesis on “Demokratische Regression: (K)eine Frage des Regierungs-systems? Erkenntnisse zur Entdemokratisierung in und aus Venezuela, Russland und Thailand?“

June 2008

Abitur (A-level exams), Kreisgymnasium St. Ursula, Haselünne

Research interests

The Nexus of Religion & Politics

Theories about Authoritarian Rule

Democratisation & Regime Change

Concept Formation in Comparative Politics

Promises & Perils of Interdisciplinary Research


Introduction to Political Science (winter term 2016/17)

Comparative Politics "Riding the Machine" - Regime, Staaten und der Wandel politischer Ordnung (summer term 2016)

Politics and Religion (MA-level seminar, in English, summer term 2015)

Introduction to Political Science (BA-level seminar, in German, winter term 2015/16)

Professional Experience

August 2008 to September 2008 and September 2010 to December 2010

Teaching internships at public schools in Meppen and Reutlingen

(i.e., practical professional training for future high-school teachers)

April 2009 to August 2010

Student assistant to the librarian of the Institute of Political Science

at the University of Tübingen (Dr. Jürgen Plieninger, Dipl.-Bibl.)

September 2010 to June 2011

Student research assistant in the research group “Middle East and Comparative Politics“

(Prof. Dr. Oliver Schlumberger)

October 2012 to February 2013 and October 2013 to February 2014

Student teaching assistant at the Institute of Political Science (tutor for

first-year students & assistance in delivering the introductory seminar)

September 2013 to October 2013

Internship as a visiting graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen (Germany)

Talks, Conferences, Miscellaneous

Altmeppen, Thomas J. (2013): „Herrschaft und Entwicklung“. Einleitende Kommentare zur gleichnamigen Tagung der Fachschaft „Globale Zusammenarbeit“ des Cusanuswerks e.V., Bonn,1.-3. November 2013 (zudem verantwortlich für Organisation & inhaltliche Gestaltung).

Altmeppen, Thomas J. (2013): „Introducing the Legacy of Giovanni Sartori to Comparative Religions, or: How (Not) to Define Religion – Comparing and Miscomparing in Religious Studies.” Vorgestellt auf der 18. Joint Postgraduate Religion and Theology Conference an der University of Bristol, 8.-9. März 2013.

Altmeppen, Thomas J. (2013): „Der Vatikan als autoritäres System?“ Vortrag gehalten im Rahmen der Reihe „Politik ist überall“ des Fördervereins Polis e.V. des Instituts für Politikwissenschaft an der Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, 31. Januar 2013.

Altmeppen, Thomas J. (2012): „Alles im Fluss im Vorderen Orient? Der Arabische Frühling und die Prognose(un)fähigkeit der Politikwissenschaft“, in: Cusaner Correspondence, 1/2012. S. 18-22 <>