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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Research Expertise, Groups and Centres

Our scholarship explores the theory, practice and ethics of politics and governance. We cover a broad area of expertise, from local policy to global governance, political theory to empirical studies, constructivism to rational choice approaches. Much of our work focuses on the exciting challenges posed by new institutional settings: devolution, European integration, and multilateral cooperation. Empirical research is complemented by a strong political theory strand, analysing issues of justice, rights and legitimacy in European and international relations. We also address challenges of governance in environmental, security, migration, health and finance policy. We have a particular specialisation in the comparative politics of countries in Europe, Russia, Africa, the Middle East, and North America.

PhD students in Politics & International Relations benefit from expertise and activities organized in and around our research groups and institutes. Every research student belongs to at least one of the research groups in the department and are expected to take part in their activities, ranging from doctoral workshops to seminar series and conferences. Examples of such groups and centres include:

Research Groups

African Politics

The African Politics research group  examines power, discourse and culture in African politics and society, and the many ways in which Africa interacts with the world.


Research on Elections, Public Opinion, and Political Parties at Edinburgh has three main focal points:

  • Multi-level electoral politics, dealing with the relationship of voting behaviour and party systems at statewide and sub-state levels of government;
  • Public attitudes and national identity in Scotland, where we work with colleagues in Sociology and the Institute of Governance to explore devolution's impact on attitudes and identity;
  • Parties of the radical left in post-communist and western Europe.

European Integration

The European Union research group explores contemporary directions in European integration. Part of the Europa Institute and the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence.

Gender and Politics

The Gender and Politics Research Group brings together researchers from across Politics and International Relations, all of whom use gender and feminist analyses in their research.  Common themes include power, gender relations and institutional change. Research falls into three broad areas:

  • Gender and Politics, including gender and constitutional change in the UK, gender and political recruitment, and gender main-streaming;
  • Gender and International Relations, including military masculinities and international norm diffusion;
  • Gender and Political Theory, including feminist institutionalism and feminist ethics.

International Relations

The International Politics research group explores the changing relations between states, the challenges of the new security agenda, transatlantic relations, political economy and global governance.

Migration & Citizenship

The Migration and Citizenship Research Group explores issues of immigration, integration, cultural diversity and citizenship.

Political Theory

The Political Theory research group is engaged with international political theory, constitutionalism and states, the global environment, and the relationship between rights and justice.

Public Policy

The Public Policy research group examines politics in its applied settings, explores the dimensions of public policy today, and is a leader in knowledge transfer with policy makers.

Territorial Politics

The Territorial Politics research group explores the changing nature of governance, devolution, and territorial identities.


Research Institutes

Europa Institute

Academy of Government

Just World Institute

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