School of Social and Political Science

Dr Saskia Smellie

Job Title

Research Fellow

Saskia Smellie

Room number


Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

15a George Square

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

Politics of Migration and Asylum Policy, Responsibility-Sharing, European Union, Foreign Policy Analysis, Role Theory


I am a Research Fellow on the EU collaborative project BRIDGES (2021-24), which explores the construction and impact of narratives on migration and integration in Europe. The project is led by the Barcelona Institute for International Affairs, and Professor Christina Boswell and I are leading a work package on how migration narratives are deployed in political debate, and how they influence policy-making.

My own research examines variations in refugee policy among EU Member States. Adopting a Role Theory approach, it explores the impact of political elites’ national role conceptions on decision-making. Domestic political constraints, including political fragmentation, party competition and public opinion are also examined, offering a holistic explanation for variations in responsibility-sharing and provision for refugees and asylum seekers.


PhD in Politics, University of Edinburgh

MSc International & European Politics (distinction), University of Edinburgh

BA Honours German Studies (2:1), University of Birmingham


2018; Sue Grant Service Award

2016-2018; Politics and International Relations Career Development PhD Stipend & Scholarship

2007; Eleanora Allen Travel Scholarship

Research Experience

2021-2024, Research Fellow, BRIDGES H2020 project, University of Edinburgh

2021; Research Assistant, BRIDGES H2020 project, University of Edinburgh

2016-2017; Research Assistant, Professor Juliet Kaarbo, University of Edinburgh

2016-2017; Research Assistant, Professor Christina Boswell, University of Edinburgh

2005-2007; Research Assistant, Roger Moorhouse, College of Europe, Warsaw

Public Engagement and Knowledge Exchange

Participant: knowledge exchange and consultation events with Scottish Government on future of Scottish and UK immigration policy; March - June 2017.

Co-Convenor/Founder; Role Research Group, Unversity of Edinburgh. Organiser of annual Role Research & FPA Conference.

Panellist; 'Tomorrow's Europe - what does it mean to you?'; Europa Institute and University of Edinburgh Festivals Office; public debate.

Discussant; 'UK after Brexit'; PhD knowledge exchange seminar in collaboration with Business School, University of Edinburgh.

Blog; 'After Brexit: Reflections from a migration perspective'; It Ain't Necessary So; blog.



2016-2019; 'Asylum and Refugees; History and State-level Responses', Honours Undergraduate Course 'Europe and International Migration'


2016-2019; Honours Undergraduate Course 'Europe and International Migration'

Relevant Work Experience

10/2015 – 06/2021; Communications Manager, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Edinburgh

2009 – 2015; Public Relations and Policy Officer, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Edinburgh


  • Facilitation training at Kinharvie Institute (6-day course)
  • Policy consultation, advocacy, and mediation between the Scottish Government and stakeholders, event organisation and political delegations
  • Media engagement strategies, social media and website management


English – native speaker

German – fluent


Member of the International Studies Association (ISA)

Member of the Council of European Studies (CES)

Member of Citizens, Nations and Migration Network, University of Edinburgh

Role Research Group (Founding member), University of Edinburgh

International Relations Research Group, University of Edinburgh

Europa Research Group, University of Edinburgh

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Smellie S. From Willkommenskultur to ‘shut that door’: The contested selection of Germany’s national role conceptions during the European ‘Migrant Crisis’. 2022. Paper presented at ISA 2022 Annual Convention, Nashville, United States.
Smellie S, Guiraudon V. Narrating the UK-French Border: Media representation of responsibility for the displaced in Calais. 2022. Paper presented at 28th International Conference of Europeanists, Lisbon, Portugal.
Boswell C, Smellie S, Maneri M, Pogliano A, Garcés-Mascareñas B, Benet-Martínez V et al. The emergence, uses and impacts of narratives on migration: State of the art. Zenodo. 2021 Nov 22, p. 1-26.
Smellie S. National role conceptions and the EU ‘refugee crisis’: Explaining variation in refugee protection policy. 2019. Paper presented at ISA Annual Convention 2019, Toronto, Canada.
Smellie S. Merkel, coalition politics and negotiating the common European asylum system: Constrained by domestic actors? 2018.
Smellie S. Explaining variation in refugee policy decision-making in the EU: International and domestic expectations. 2018. Paper presented at UACES Graduate Forum Conference 2018, Leuven, Belgium.
Boswell C, Kyambi S, Smellie S. Scottish immigration policy after Brexit: Evaluating options for a differentiated approach. 2017 Jun 20.
Smellie S. Explaining variation in refugee protection policy and responsibility sharing in the EU: A role theory approach. 2017. Paper presented at ISA Annual Convention 2017, Baltimore, United States.
Smellie S. After Brexit: Reflections from a migration perspective. 2016.