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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Helen Packwood

Helen Packwood
Dr Helen Packwood
Lecturer in Social Research Methods
4.13 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 650 3912
Research Interests
Education, Inequality, Migration studies, Social policy, Mixed methodologies, Human Geography, Population change, Child Poverty, Longitudinal Analysis, Scotland and Europe, UK

I joined SPS in March 2019 after studying and working as a Research Fellow for five years at the University of St Andrews. My substantive research focuses on educational inequalities in the UK and has examined trends in Higher Education as well as the outcomes of school leavers.


PhD, University of St Andrews

PGDE Education (Geography), University of Edinburgh

MSc. Urban and Regional Planning, Heriot Watt University

BSc. Geography, University of St Andrews


My work is broadly, and theoretically, framed by my interest in inequalities and social justice. My current research combines these long-standing interests by exploring how young migrants to Scotland make the transition from compulsory education. Youth transition is an established field, but very little work has been undertaken to understand the current experiences and outcomes of school-aged migrants in Scotland.  The research uses innovative longitudinal methods to shed light on how poverty, ethnicity and geography intersect creating distinct pathways for young people with migrant and minority backgrounds.  My research integrates advanced quantitative methods with qualitative approaches and seeks to shed light on the (re)production of educational inequalities.

A range of scholarships, internships and fellowships have given me an insight in to the connections between theory, policy and practice. I am passionate about bringing these closer together. Working as a researcher within Local and National Government as well as academia has helped me appreciate the role of independent, academic enquiry and its value in creating evidence-based policy. In addition, experience of frontline teaching and working within communities brings my research to life and keeps me grounded.

Recent publications

Findlay, A., Packwood, H., McCollum, D., Nightingale, G., & Tindal, S. (2018). Fees, flows and imaginaries: exploring the destination choices arising from intra-national student mobility. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 1-14. Link here

McCollum, D., & Packwood, H. (2017). Rescaling Migration Studies: Migration Policy-Making and Implementation at the Local Government Level. Scottish Geographical Journal, 1-17. Link here

Findlay, A. M., McCollum, D., & Packwood, H. (2017). Marketization, marketing and the production of international student migration. International Migration55(3), 139-155. Link here

Findlay, A., Prazeres, L., McCollum, D., & Packwood, H. (2016). It was always the plan’: international study as ‘learning to migrate.  AreaLink here

Packwood H, Findlay A, McCollum D, McGowan, T (eds.) (2015) International study for an international career: a survey of the motivations and aspirations of international students in the UK. Centre for Population Change Briefing Paper SeriesPDF here

Tindal, S., Packwood, H., Findlay, A., Leahy, S., & McCollum, D. (2015). In what sense ‘distinctive’? The search for distinction amongst cross-border student migrants in the UK. Geoforum64, 90-99.  Link here

Packwood, H. (2015). Book Review: The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labour Migration by Martin Ruhs. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2013. No. of pages: 272. Link here

Packwood, H., Findlay, A., & McCollum, D. (2014). Engaging with immigration policy on the ground: a study of Local Authorities in Scotland.  PDF here

Packwood, H., & Findlay, A. (2014). Immigration to Scotland and the constitutional change debate: Geography, difference and the question of scale.  PDF here

Topics interested in supervising

Migration studies, demographic change, mixed methods research

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

PhD in Social Policy; MSc (R) Social Policy