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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Saskia Smellie

Saskia Smellie
Saskia Smellie
Tring, Hertfordshire, UK
MSc International and European Politics
Doing Now
PhD in Politics / Policy & Communications Officer at Scottish NGO

Where are you from and what did you do before embarking on the IEP degree?

I am originally from a small village in southern England but moved to Edinburgh after completing my undergraduate degree in German Studies in 2008. Having spent a year studying at the Humboldt University in Berlin, I was employed as the Public Relations and Policy Officer at the German Consulate General in Edinburgh. My role at the Consulate involved working with national and local government to promote political, economic and cultural ties, organizing political delegations and writing policy briefs.


Why did you decide to do the IEP degree?

My work at the Consulate General gave me insight into German politics, the role of foreign missions abroad and Scottish politics, at both a local and national level. It awakened my fascination for European politics and policy and an aspiration to learn more about the systems, institutions and principles that underpinned my daily work and that of the people around me. So, in 2012, I decided to do the MSc in International and European Politics part-time while continuing to work at the Consulate General.


What do you think of Edinburgh as a city?

Edinburgh is a fantastic place to live and remains my favourite city in the UK. It is affordable, a manageable size (even on foot), steeped in history, culture and beautiful architecture, and easily accessible, with it’s own airport and rail links to most big cities in the UK. It is also only a stones throw from the stunning landscapes of the Scottish Highlands and isles. In sum, the quality of life in Edinburgh is very high, whether you are a student or a young professional.


What were your best memories of the programme?

Other than the amazing friends that I made from all over the world, the breadth of course options on the IEP programme was particularly impressive. In addition to core courses on EU policies and institutions and more general theoretical courses on International Relations, I was able to specialize in EU policy areas I was particular interested in, such as the Politics of Migration in European, Globalisation and the European Union in International Affairs. One of these courses has since inspired my own research and paved the way for my PhD project. The annual trip to Brussels to meet representatives of the EU institutions was also particularly memorable, with a visit to the Scottish Representative Office, NATO-Shape and Deloitte also included in the programme.


What have you been up to since graduation and what influence did IEP have on your choices?

Since graduating from the IEP programme with Distinction in 2014, I have begun a PhD in Politics at the University of Edinburgh. The decision to do the PhD was a direct result of the skills and confidence I acquired during the IEP programme. As I had been out of academia for a number of years and was working fulltime, I was unsure whether I was cut out for postgraduate study. However, the great academic staff in the department, their passion and support, enabled me to overcome any initial uncertainties. I am now carrying out my own research on EU refugee policy and hopefully have a bright career in academia ahead of me.


Saskia Smellie