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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Nicola McEwen

Nicola McEwen
Professor Nicola McEwen
Professor of Territorial Politics; Co-Director, Centre on Constitutional Change. Senior Research Fellow, UK in a Changing Europe
3.05 St John's Land St John's Street Edinburgh UK
+44 (0)131 651 1831
Research Interests
Territorial Politics, Scottish Politics, Devolution, Multi-level governance, multi-level energy policy, welfare devolution, voting and elections, federal states, identity politics, nationalism

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Please email for an appointment

Research Areas interested in Supervising

Comparative territorial politics; devolution and multi-level governance; Brexit; nationalism and the politics of national identity; elections and electoral participation; Scottish politics.

If you are interested in being supervised by Nicola McEwen, please contact her directly, and explore the options below for more information:

Guidance and Feedback Hours: Please email for an appointment.


  • PhD Politics (Sheffield)
  • MA Political Science (Western Ontario, Canada)
  • BA (Hons) Politics and Philosophy (Strathclyde)

Biographical Statement

Nicola has been at Edinburgh University since 2001, first as Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer in 2006, and as Professor of Territorial Politics from 2014. She is Co-Director of the Centre on Constitutional Change, which was originally set up as a key investment under the ESRC Future of the UK and Scotland programme. Nicola is also a Senior Research Fellow with the ESRC UK in a Changing Europe, having previously been Principal Investigator of one of its prestigious Brexit Priority Grants. Her previous research examined the Repatriation of Competences and the Implications for Devolution. The new project, entitled A Family of Nations? Brexit, Devolution and the Union, explores intergovernmental relations in UK-EU negotiations, future trade negotiations and the development of the UK domestic market, as well as the implications of Brexit for the future of the Union.

Nicola is also a Research Fellow in a major ESRC-funded project, Between Two Unions: The Constitutional Future of the Islands after Brexit, where she leads the research strand charting the evolution of intergovernmental relations. She was part of the project on Brexit and the multi-level governance of energy, supported by the UK Energy Research Centre.  

Nicola has published widely in the field of territorial politics, nationalism, multi-level government and policy-making, and multi-level parties and elections. She is actively involved in informing debate within the wider policy and political community, through with extensive experience in providing analysis in broadcast, print and social media, public engagement, advice to governments and parliamentary committees, and consultancy. 

Nicola supervises a wide range of Research Masters and PhD students exploring nationalism, devolution, constitutional change, multi-level government and policy, electoral politics and party politics. 

Recent Journal Articles & Book Chapters

‘Negotiating Brexit: Power Dynamics in British Intergovernmental Relations’, Regional Studies (2020, forthcoming volume),

'Intergovernmental Relations in the UK: Time for a Radical Overhaul?' (with Mike Kenny, Jack Sheldon and Coree Brown Swan), The Political Quarterly, Vol 91/3,

'L’autonomie écossaise et le Brexit: deux projets d’autodétermination en collision?', in Levrat, N, D Sidjanski and F Saint-Ouen (eds), L’Union européenne et les nationalismes régionaux (with Alexandra Remond), Publications du Centre de compétences Dusan Sidjanski en études européennes, 2020

‘How to conceptualise energy law and policy for an interdisciplinary audience: The case of post-Brexit UK’, (with Paul Cairney, Aileen McHarg and Karen Turner), Energy Policy, 129, June, 2019, 459-66 

‘Brexit and Scotland: between two unions’, British Politics, 2018, Vol 13/1: 65-78

Reforming Intergovernmental Relations in the United Kingdom (with Mike Kenny, Jack Sheldon and Coree Brown Swan), Centre on Constitutional Change, 2018

‘Inequality, Redistribution and Decentralization in Canada and the United Kingdom’ (with Keith Banting), in Keating, M and G Laforest, Constitutional Politics and the Territorial Question in Canada and the United Kingdom Federalism and Devolution Compared (Springer, 2018)

‘Still Better Together? Purpose and Power in Intergovernmental Councils in the UK’, Regional and Federal Studies vol.27/5, 2017: 667-69

‘Welfare: Contesting communities of solidarity’, in Keating, M (ed), Debating Scotland: Issues of Independence and Union in the 2014 Referendum (OUP, 2017)

‘Beyond the Referendum’ (with Michael Keating), in Debating Scotland, 2017

‘The Scottish Independence Debate’ (with Michael Keating), in Debating Scotland. 2017

‘Towards a Fairer Scotland? Assessing the Prospects and Implications of Social Security Devolution’, in Keating, M (ed), A Wealthier, Fairer Scotland: The Political Economy of Constitutional Change (EUP, 2017)

‘A Constitution in Flux: The Dynamics of Constitutional Change after the Referendum’, in Walker, et al., The Scottish independence referendum: constitutional and political implications (OUP, 2016).

‘Between Autonomy and Interdependence: The Challenges of Shared Rule after the Scottish Referendum’ (with Bettina Petersohn), in The Political Quarterly. 86, 2, 2015, 192-200

‘Empowered for Action? Capacities and constraints in sub-state government climate action in Scotland and Wales’ (with Elin Royles), in Environmental Politics, vol 24, 6, 2015, p1034-1054

‘Regions as Primary Political Communities: A multi-level comparative analysis of turnout in regional elections’ (with Ailsa Henderson), in Publius. 45, 2, 2015, p.189-215

‘Constitutional dynamics and partisan conflict: A comparative assessment of multi-level systems in Europe’ (with Wilfried Swenden and Nicole Bolleyer), in Comparative European Politics. 12, 4-5, 2014, p.531-555

‘UK Devolution in the Shadow of Hierarchy: Intergovernmental Relations and Party Politics’ (with Wilfried Swenden), in Comparative European Politics, 12, 4-5, 2014, p488–509

‘Sub-State Climate Pioneers: A case study of Scotland’s energy and climate change programme’, (with Elizabeth Bomberg) Regional and Federal Studies vol 24, 1, 2014: p.63-85

‘Energy Policy, Nationalism and Scottish Independence’, in G Hassan and J Mitchell (eds), After Independence: The State of the Scottish National Debate, 2014 (Luath Press)

‘The UK: Multi-level Elections in an Asymmetrical State’, in Dandoy, R. & Schakel, A. (eds.) Regional and National Elections in Western Europe: Territoriality of the Vote in Thirteen Countries, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, p.254-274

'Mobilising community energy' (with Elizabeth Bomberg), Energy Policy, vol.51, 2012, p.435-444

'A comparative analysis of voter turnout in regional elections' (with Ailsa Henderson), Electoral Studies, 29, 3, 2010

Books and Special Issues

Constitutional dynamics and partisan conflict: A comparative assessment of multi-level systems in Europe (with Nicole Bolleyer, Wilfried Swenden), Special Issue of Comparative European Politics. 12, 4-5 

Governments in Opposition? Intergovernmental Relations in the UK in a Context of Party Political Incongruence (with Wilfried Swenden and Nicole Bolleyer). Special issue of British Journal of Politics and International Relations, vol.14, no.2, 2012.

The Territorial Politics of Welfare (Routledge/ECPR Studies in European Political Science, 2009)

Revolution or Evolution? The 2007 Scottish Elections (with John Curtice, David McCrone, Michael Marsh and Rachel Ormiston), Edinburgh University Press, 2009

Nationalism and the State: Welfare and Identity in Scotland and Quebec. Regionalism and Federalism Book Series. Presses interuniversitaires europennes/Peter Lang, 2006.

Devolution and Public Policies (with Michael Keating) (Taylor and Francis, 2006)

Topics interested in supervising

I am interested in supervising research on devolution, nationalism and the politics of Independence, Brexit, public policy, multi-level government, parties and elections, political behaviour

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

PhD in Politics; MSc (R) Politics