David Runciman is heir to his family's Viscountcy. He is the great nephew of celebrated historian Steven Runciman and his father, Garry Runciman, is also a noted political scientist and academic. He was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge.
At Cambridge, Runciman specialises in the development of the theory of the modern state, analysing the work of key thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, Emmanuel Sieyes, Benjamin Constant and Max Weber, who all in turn influence his work The Politics of Good Intentions in which he employs these thinkers' theories to explain modern politics.
He is married to the food writer and historian Bee Wilson