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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Ailsa Henderson

Ailsa Henderson
Professor Ailsa Henderson
Professor of Political Science
3.09 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 651 1618
Research Interests
Political behaviour, political culture, Regionalism, voting and elections, comparative territorial politics, UK, Scotland, Quebec-Scotland comparisons, European values, Public opinion and Political attitudes

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • On sabbatical AY 17-18. Meetings by appointment.


  • Baccalauréat ès sciences sociales, science politique (Université  d'Ottawa)
  • MSc Social Research (Edinburgh)
  • PhD  Politics (Edinburgh)

Current Teaching and Research Interests

Professor Ailsa Henderson joined PIR in 2007 from the University of Toronto. She conducts research on political culture(s) and political behaviour in federal and multi-national states, and focuses in particular on variations in political culture at the sub-state level. Her publications explore how national identity, federalism, devolution or institutional design can affect regional variations in political attitudes and behaviours. 

Professor Henderson teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in quantitative methods, research methods and research design, British/Scottish and comparative politics.

Professor Henderson is Principal Investigator for the ESRC-funded Scottish Election Study and was PI for the ESRC-funded 2014 Scottish Referendum Study.  She currently holds research grants on attitudes to risk and constitutional change (including independence and Brexit), and on Englishness and English nationalism (all as part of the ESRC Future of the UK and Scotland programme), as well as on political parties and voting behaviour in Scotland and Quebec (SSHRCC) and the Provincial Diversity Project (SSHRCC).

Previous grants have explored political attitudes in Europe (Citizenship After the Nation State - ESRC), predictors of turnout in sub-state elections (SSHRCC) and compulsory volunteering and civic engagement among young people (Imagine Canada/SSHRCC).  From 2008 to 2012 she held a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship to conduct research on the constituent political cultures of Europe and was PI on an ESRC grant "A blended learning course in quantitative methods for UK sociology, social policy and political science undergraduates". 

 Currently a member of the  Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland (local elections, Holyrood elections) and the Boundary Commission for Scotland (Westminster elections), she has worked as a researcher for the Committee on Standards in Public Life, as a consultant for various departments in the Government of Nunavut and in 2007 served as working groups chair for the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform.

Professor Henderson is a member of the Elections, Public Opinion and Parties research group, the Territorial Politics research group, the SPS-wide Quantitative Methods research group and Q-Step group.  She serves on the Advisory Editorial Board of Regional and Federal Studies, as a  consultant editor for the British Journal of Politics & International Relationsis an advisory board member for the Welsh Election Study and the Qualitative Election Study of Britain and as a Board Member of the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy.

Edinburgh Research Explorer profile can be accessed here:

PhD Supervision

Professor Henderson is able to offer PhD supervision on comparative as well as UK and Canadian topics covering 4 themes:

  • electoral and referendum behaviour (voters and parties), electoral systems and electoral reform
  • territorial politics and federalism, nationalism and devolution
  • political culture, political attitudes and public opinion
  • civic engagement, especially among young people, and mandated participation (eg compulsory voting and compulsory community service)

Current and recent PhD/ MSc by Research supervision includes:

  • Alia Middleton, Constituency campaigning in UK elections
  • Ibrahim Sani, Electoral governance in Nigeria
  • Charlotte Snelling, Youth turnout in UK Elections
  • Mor Kandlik Eltanani, Social movement organisations
  • Alexandra Remond, Secession referendums in comparative perspective
  • Shirley Pat Chamberlain, Citizenship in Aboriginal communities in Canada
  • Francesco Bertoldi, Party competition in Northern Ireland
  • Yazmin Morlet Corti, Political culture and attitudes to privay
  • Helen Searle, Political culture in Scotland and England


Dr Henderson is the author of five books including two monographs: Hierarchies of Belonging: national identity and political culture in Scotland and Quebec (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2007) and Nunavut: Rethinking Political Culture (UBC Press  2007).  She is the co-editor (with Charlie Jeffery and Daniel Wincott) of Citizenship After the Nation State (Palgrave 2013), editor of Why Regions Matter: Small Worlds in Comparative Perspective (Routledge 2011) and Nunavut at Ten (special issue of the Journal of Canadian Studies 43(2) 2009).  In 2005 she co-edited (with Colin Coates) Scotland-Quebec: An Evolving Comparison (special issue of British Journal of Canadian Studies 18 (1/2).

She has published more than forty refereed articles or book chapters. Recent outlets include PubliusRegional Studies, Electoral Studies, Political Quarterly, Political Studies Review, and Journal of Adolescent Research.


Ailsa Henderson, Charlie Jeffery, Dan Wincott and Richard Wyn Jones (2017) "How Brexit was Made in England" British Journal of Politics and International Relations 19 (4): 631-646

Charlie Jeffery, Ailsa Henderson, Richard Wyn Jones and Roger Scully (2016) "England’s Dissatisfactions and the Conservative Dilemma" Political Studies Review (14)3: 335-48

Ailsa Henderson, Charlie Jeffery, Robert Liñeira, Roger Scully, Daniel Wincott and Richard Wyn Jones (2016) “England, Englishness and Brexit” Political Quarterly 87(2): 187-99

Ailsa Henderson and Valentyna Romanova (2016) “Multi-level voting and party competition in vertically simultaneous elections: the case of Ukraine” Post-Soviet Affairs 32(3): 201-236

Ailsa Henderson, Charlie Jeffery and Robert Liñeira (2015) “National identity or national interest?: Scottish, English and Welsh Attitudes to the Constitutional Debate” Political Quarterly 86(2): 265-74

Ailsa Henderson and Nicola McEwen (2015) “Regions as Primary Political Communities: A multi-level comparative analysis of turnout in regional elections” Publius 45(2): 189-215

Ailsa Henderson, S. Mark Pancer and Steven D. Brown (2014) "Creating Effective Civic Engagement Policy for Adolescents Quantitative and Qualitative Evaluations of Compulsory Community Service", Journal of Adolescent Research 29(1): 120-54


Robert Liñeira, Ailsa Henderson and Liam Delaney (2017) “Voters’ Responses to the Referendum Campaign” in Michael Keating, Ed, Debating Scotland. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 165-90

Ailsa Henderson (2016) “Scotland” in Marc Sanjaume and Daniel Turp, Eds, The Emergence of a Democratic Right to Self Determination in Europe. Brussels: Maurits Coppieters Center: 182-91

Ailsa Henderson “The Freedom to Make Identical Decisions: The Devolution Paradox” in Philip Cowley and Robert Ford, Eds, More Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box London: Biteback Press, 181-4

Ailsa Henderson (2016) “Différenciation institutionnelle: la perception de la différence et les multiples communautés politiques à l’intérieur de l’État” in Jean François Caron, Ed, Les Conditions de L’Unité Politique et de la Sécession dans les Sociétés Multinationales. Québec : Presses de l’Université Laval : 41-60

Ailsa Henderson and Graham White (2015) “Managing the political moraine: Political Economy and Political culture Approaches to Assessing the Success of Nunavut” in Bryan Evans and Charles Smith, Eds, Transforming Provincial Politics: The Political Economy of Canada’s Provinces and Territories in the Neoliberal Era.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Ailsa Henderson (2014) “The myth of meritocratic Scotland: Political culture(s) in the UK in Philip Cowley and Rob Ford, Eds, Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box London: Biteback Press: 103-107


Ailsa Henderson, Charlie Jeffery and Daniel Wincott, Eds, Citizenship After the Nation State. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Which includes 

Ailsa Henderson, Charlie Jeffery, Daniel Wincott and Richard Wyn Jones "Citizenship after devolution in the United Kingdom: public attitudes in Scotland and Wales" pp31-51

Ailsa Henderson "Citizenship in Europe: A comparative examination of the rescaling of political life" pp155-80

Richard Wyn Jones, Guy Lodge, Charlie Jeffery, Glenn Gottfired, Roger Scully, Ailsa Henderson and Daniel Wincott (2013) England and its two unions: The anatomy of a nation and its discontents (London: Institute for Public Policy Research)

Ailsa Henderson, Charlie Jeffery, Daniel Wincott and Richard Wyn Jones (2013), "Reflections on the Devolution Paradox: a comparative examination of multi-level citizenship", Regional Studies 47(3): 303-22

Ailsa Henderson, Steven D. Brown, S. Mark Pancer (2012), "Social and Political Dimensions of Civic Engagement: The Impact of Compulsory Community Service', Politics and Policy 40(1): 93-130.

Richard Wyn Jones, Guy Lodge, Ailsa Henderson and Daniel Wincott (2012) The Dog that Finally Barked: England as an emerging political community (London: Institute for Public Policy Research)

Ailsa Henderson, Ed (2011) , Why Regions Matter: Small Worlds in Comparative Perspective.  London: Routledge. Reprint of Ailsa Henderson (2010) Why Regions Matter: Sub-state Polities as Small Worlds, Guest editor, Regional and Federal Studies 20(4/5) 

Which includes

Ailsa Henderson (2011) "Why Regions Matter: Sub-state Polities in Comparative Perspective" : 1-8

Ailsa Henderson (2011) "'Small Worlds' as Predictors of General Political Attitudes": 31-48

Ailsa Henderson and Nicola McEwen (2010) "A Comparative Analysis of Voter Turnout in Regional Elections" Electoral Studies  29(3): 405-16 

Ailsa Henderson (2010) "Greater than the Sum of its Parts: Political Cultures and Regions in Canada" in Heather MacIvor (ed) Election. Toronto: Emond Montgomery

Ailsa Henderson (2009) Nunavut at 10, Guest editor, Journal of Canadian Studies, 43(2)

Which includes

Ailsa Henderson (2009) "Lessons for Social Science in the Study of New Polities: Nunavut at 10" Journal of Canadian Studies 43(2): 5-22

Ailsa Henderson (2009) "Institutional Boundaries and Regionalism: Social, Economic and Political Regions in the Canadian Arctic" Journal of Canadian Studies 43(2): 109-36

Ailsa Henderson (2008) "Satisfaction with democracy: evidence from Westminster systems" Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 18(1): 3-26

Ailsa Henderson (2008) "Self-government in Nunavut" in Yale Belanger (ed) Aboriginal Self-government in Canada (Saskatoon: Purich) 222-239

2006-2007 (selection only)

Ailsa Henderson, Hierarchies of Belonging and Political Inclusion: national identity and political culture in Scotland and Quebec. (Montreal-Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2007)

Ailsa Henderson, Nunavut: Rethinking Political Culture (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007)

Colin Coates and Ailsa Henderson, Scotland-Quebec: An Evolving Comparison†Guest editors, British Journal of Canadian Studies 18(2) 2007

Ailsa Henderson, Steven D. Brown, Kimberly Ellis-Hale and S. Mark Pancer, "The effect of mandatory volunteering in high school on civic engagement: the case of the double cohort, in Ontario, Canada", Journal of Youth and Adolescence 2007 36 (7): 849-60 

Ailsa Henderson "Identity measurement in Scotland and Quebec: the meaning and salience of identity markers", British Journal of Canadian Studies 2007 18(1/2): 269-91

Ailsa Henderson "Cultural renaissance or economic emancipation: predictors of support for devolution in Nunavut" Journal of Canadian Studies 2007 41(2): 1-23

Ailsa Henderson "A Porous and Pragmatic Settlement: Asymmetrical Devolution and Democratic Constraint in Scotland and Wales", in Andrew McDonald (ed) Reinventing Britain (London: Methuen, 2007) 151-69

Ailsa Henderson "Politics without parties: citizen engagement and interest articulation in consensus systems", in Alain G. Gagnon and Brian Tanguay (eds) Canadian  Parties in Transition, 3rd ed. (Peterborough: Broadview, 2007): 215-240.

Ailsa Henderson, Steven D. Brown, David Docherty, Barry Kay and Kimberly Ellis-Hale "Voter Dealignment or Campaign Effects: Accounting for Political Preferences in Ontario", American Review of Canadian Studies 2006 36 (4): 612-26.

Steven D. Brown, David Docherty, Ailsa Henderson, Barry Kay and Kimberly Ellis-Hale "Exit polling in Canada: An Experiment", Canadian Journal of Political Science 2006 39(4): 919-33

Ailsa Henderson "Consequences of Electoral Reform: lessons for Canada", Canadian Public Policy 2006 32(1): 41-58

Topics interested in supervising

political behaviour, political culture, referendums and elections, civic engagement, nationalism (esp Scotland-Quebec comparisons)

If you are interested in being supervised by Ailsa Henderson, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Canadian Studies; PhD in Politics; MPhil in Canadian Studies; MSc (R) Politics