School of Social and Political Science

Research and Impact Strategy


The PIR research and impact strategy is built on three key strands:

  1. institutionalise existing and emerging areas of excellence;
  2. develop best practice and wider participation in knowledge exchange and impact; and
  3. facilitate interdisciplinary research.

In addition to our interdisciplinary initiatives our research teams have focused on building networks within the wider disciplines of politics and international relations, with greater engagement in national and international professional associations.

Strengthening Areas of Excellence

Our expertise has grown in

  • political theory
  • international political economy
  • British politics
  • security studies
  • the middle east,
  • Latin America,
  • Russia, and
  • South East Asia

This growth complements our existing expertise in British, European, American, and Russian politics.

Supporting Knowledge Exchange and Impact

Knowledge exchange and impact are central to PIR research ambitions. The blended approach to KEI has involved building the capacity of all UoA staff to engage in impact activities, while providing additional support to those seeking to exploit impact opportunities created by wider political developments.

The department works closely across a range of impact audiences with governments, international organisations, NGOs and the private sector, including the Scottish and UK governments and Parliaments, UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Full Fact.

Three of our centres have knowledge exchange at their core:

  • What Works Scotland is the largest collaborative action research initiative on public services in the UK.
  • The Centre on Constitutional Change (CCC) has established itself as the leading hub for policy-oriented research on new constitutional challenges, from independence to Brexit. It is the central point of contact for governments, parliaments, and a wide range of policy stakeholders confronting constitutional change.
  • The Centre for Science, Knowledge and Policy (SKAPE) harnesses academic expertise from political science, and a wide range of disciplines, to promote understanding among civil servants, colleagues and early career researchers about the use and exchange of knowledge and evidence in the policy process and to conduct research on how knowledge and evidence is used in the policy process.

Facilitating interdisciplinary research

Each of PIRs research centres provides a forum for interdisciplinary research and collectively they engage colleagues in Social Policy, Sociology, Economics, Business Studies, Law, History and Informatics as well as colleagues in other disciplines in universities throughout the UK and beyond.

Collaboration and networks

Research colleagues are supported in exploring a wide range of dissemination strategies to ensure research findings reach as wide an audience as possible. Examples include:

  • Leveraging the opportunities delivered by the range of festivals held in Edinburgh. Colleagues have appeared at the Book Festival, Festival Fringe, Festival of Politics and the Edinburgh International Science Festival.
  • Colleagues appear regularly on radio and television in Scotland, the UK, internationally and often in multiple languages.
  • PIR contributes to the legislative process and colleagues regularly act as witnesses to Scottish and UK parliamentary committees.

Contribution to the discipline

PIR colleagues have served (or are serving) as editors of a wide range of journals and many others sit on the advisory board of publications including (but not limited to):

  • Res Publica
  • African Politics
  • Government and Opposition
  • Contemporary Political Theory
  • Asian Journal of Political Science
  • Regional and Federal Studies
  • British Journal of Politics and International Relations
  • Government and Opposition
  • Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
  • International Review of Public Policy
  • Journal of European Public Policy
  • Parliamentary Affairs
  • East European politics
  • Russian politics
  • Policy and Politics
  • Politics and Gender
  • Politics
  • Groups and Identities
  • Foreign Policy Analysis
  • Korea Observer
  • Security Dialogue
  • Europe-Asia Studies
  • Globalizations
  • Third World Quarterly

Panels and committees

PIR colleagues regulary hold senior positions on policy advisory groups including:

Senior advisory positions:

  • ScotGov expert advisory group on migration and population,
  • Senior Research and Policy advisor to Glasgow city council,
  • Deputy Chair of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland,
  • Commissioner on the Boundary Commission for Scotland
  • member of the Scottish Government Arctic Steering Group.
  • member of the Scottish Government Online Identity Assurance Expert Group
  • member of the Scottish Parliament external experts panel

PIR staff have served on commissioning and review panels for the ESRC as well as

  • The European Research Council,
  • British Academy,
  • Leverhulme and
  • Commissioning panel for the Academy of Finland

External plaudits

The quality of research conducted by UoA staff is reflected in the number and range of awards and prizes. This includes

  • election to fellowships in the Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • Academy of Social Sciences
  • British Academy
  • lifetime achievement awards from the ISA and from ECPR.