He is one of Britain's foremost constitutional experts and has written extensively on political and constitutional issues. He supports both the British monarchy and the adoption of proportional representation.
He is the son of Harry Bogdanor by his marriage to Rosa (née Weinger) Bogdanor.
Educated at Bishopshalt School, Vernon Bogdanor gained his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (Hons 1) from The Queen's College, Oxford. Since 1966, he has been Senior Tutor (1979–85 and 1996–97), Vice-Principal, and (in 2002-03) Acting Principal at Brasenose College, Oxford. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Fellow of the Society for Advanced Legal Studies.
Bogdanor married Judith Evelyn Beckett in 1972.
In 1998, he was awarded the CBE for contributions to constitutional history, and, in 2009, he was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur.
He has been a Member of Council of The Hansard Society for Parliamentary Government, Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities, Member of the Court of Essex University, adviser (as a member of the Council of Europe and American Bar Association delegations) to the governments of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel and Slovakia on constitutional and electoral reform, member of the Academic Panel of Local Authority Associations, member of the Hansard Society Commission on the Legislative Process, member of the UK Government delegation on Democratic Institutions in Central and Eastern Europe and Conference on the Protection of Minorities, Consultant to Independent Television News (ITN) on the General Election, member of the Economic and Social Research Council's committee administering the 'Whitehall' programme, special adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on the Public Services, member of the Swedish Constitutional Reform Project, member of the Advisory Group to the High Commissioner on National Minorities, adviser to the President of Trinidad on the Constitution of Trinidad, and member of the Economic and Social Research Council's committee administering the devolution programme.
Bogdanor is a frequent contributor to television, radio and newspapers. Between 2004 and 2008 he gave public lectures as Professor of Law at Gresham College, London. He continues to give public lectures at the College, now as Visiting Professor of Political History. He has published numerous books and articles. Recently, he edited The British Constitution in the 20th Century (published by Oxford University Press to mark the centenary of the British Academy) and authored The New British Constitution (2009) which analyses constitutional changes under the Labour government since 1997.
Bogdanor is a member of the Henry Jackson Society.
Professor Bogdanor's most famous former student is David Cameron, who became Conservative Party leader and served as Prime Minister from 2010 to 2016. Bogdanor described Cameron as "one of the ablest" students he has taught, whose political views were "moderate and sensible Conservative". He has, however, expressed reservations about some of Cameron's policies, notably his proposal for a British "Bill of Rights", about which Bogdanor said, "I believe it's ill thought-out and confused.... He [Cameron] may have forgotten some of the things I've taught him. I'd be happy to give him a few more tutorials on civil liberties."
Bogdanor referred to the arrest, search and questioning of the Conservative MP Damian Green, for aiding and abetting misconduct in public office by police from Special Branch, as "a storm in a teacup…". "The important principle is that MPs – apart from when they're speaking in the chamber and dealing with constituents' correspondence – are subject to the same laws as the rest of us."
Among books written or edited by Vernon Bogdanor are the following:The Age of Affluence, 1951-1964 (1970, edited, with Robert Skidelsky)
Democracy and Elections: Electoral Systems and Their Political Consequences (1983; edited, with David Butler)
Multi-Party Politics and the Constitution (1983)
What is Proportional Representation? (1984)
The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions (1987)
Constitutions in Democratic Politics (1988; edited)
The Monarchy and the Constitution (1997)
Power and the People: Guide to Constitutional Reform (1997)
Devolution in the United Kingdom (2001)
Joined-Up Government (2005; edited)
The New British Constitution (2009)
The Coalition and the Constitution (2011)
"Power and participation." Oxford Review of Education 5, No. 2 (1979): 157-168.
"Direct elections, representative democracy and European integration." Electoral Studies 8, No. 3 (1989): 205-216.
"Founding elections and regime change." Electoral Studies 9, No. 4 (1990): 288-294.
"The European Community and Sovereignty." Parliamentary affairs 44, No. 4 (1991): 481-492. (with Geoffrey Woodcock)
"Overcoming the twentieth century: democracy and nationalism in Central and Eastern Europe." The Political Quarterly 66, No. 1 (1995): 84-97.
"Ministerial accountability." Parliamentary Affairs 50, No. 1 (1997): 71-83.
"Devolution: decentralisation or disintegration?." The Political Quarterly 70, No. 2 (1999): 185-194.
"Reform of the House of Lords: A sceptical view." The Political Quarterly 70, No. 4 (1999): 375-381.
"Civil service reform: a critique." The Political Quarterly 72, No. 3 (2001): 291-299.
"The Tories need a genuine liberal". The Spectator. 15 October 2005.
"The West Lothian Question." Parliamentary Affairs (2009)
"Mayors: Good for Britain -- in the end." Prospect. 19 March 2012.
"Why English votes for English laws is a kneejerk absurdity". The Guardian. 24 September 2014.
"Time to ditch 'first-past-the-post'". Prospect. 22 January 2015.
"Who pays for our politics?". Prospect. 26 March 2015.
"Britain needs a new constitution". Prospect. 21 May 2015.
"A second Brexit referendum? It’s looking more likely by the day". The Guardian. 03 August 2017.
Bogdanor's most notable former student is David Cameron. Others include Kate Allen, Camilla Cavendish, Diane Coyle, Guy Spier, Toby Young, and Dido Harding.