School of Social and Political Science

Helen Packwood

Job Title

Lecturer in Social Research Methods


Room number


Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

15a George Square

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)



Helen’s research focuses on two key areas of social policy analysis - education and migration. She has considerable expertise in mixed methods research and in linking administrative and census data to explore ethnic inequalities in educational outcomes. Her research is longitudinal and combines quantitative and qualitative data from various sources to shed light on the (re)production of educational inequalities.

As well as these substantive research interests, Helen is passionate about pedagogical innovation and is a staff member of the Research Training Centre at the School of Social and Political Science. She has contributed to a significant expansion of the outreach ambitions of the Edinburgh Q Step Centre and worked with colleagues to establish the Q Step Academy. This ambitious project aims to raise the profile of social statistics in schools across the UK through innovative teaching and research.


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

Recent publications

Packwood, H. & Finney, N (forthcoming) Thinking Aloud about Mixed Methods Research.

Packwood, H. (2019) What is success anyway? Examining the experiences and outcomes of school leavers in Scotland. Briefing Report. Link here

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

Research interests

Research interests

Education, Inequality, Migration studies, Social policy, Mixed methodologies, Human Geography, Population change, Child Poverty, Longitudinal Analysis, Scotland and Europe, UK

My work is broadly, and theoretically, framed by my interest in inequalities and social justice. My 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.

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 (open in new windows) for more information:

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