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Politics and International Relations (PIR): Community



Welcome to Politics & International Relations (PIR) in Edinburgh.

We are vibrant subject area, with over 35 permanent members of staff and a dynamic group of post-doctoral research, and visiting fellows.  We are based in a lively capital city, with an internationally esteemed list of faculty.  In the last research assessment exercise 45 per cent of our research in Politics and International Studies was rated internationally excellent, with a further 10 per cent rated as world-leading, placing us in the UK top 10.

Staff in PIR have always sought to reach audiences beyond academia, to facilitate dialogue, inform public debate and effect change.  That engagement is long standing.  In the 1980s Edinburgh professor John Erickson launched the ‘Edinburgh Conversations’ with military generals and journalists, which provided an opportunity for conversations on arms control and reduction of East West tensions.  They continue to provide a model for how academics can conduct policy relevant research.  Our current staff have advised Scottish and UK governments, the European Commission, and international organisations, they have served on government commissions, and offered expert testimony to organisations like the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank as well as the British military.

In PIR we have, quite frankly, excellent students from all over the world.  We have produced more Secretaries of State for Scotland than any other department (and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown tutored for us when he was an Edinburgh University student). We are teaching future generations of politicians, journalists, policy analysts, pollsters, and staff for non-governmental organisations and development agencies.  Graduates of our MSc in International and European Politics, for example, have gone on to do policy work in EU and national institutions, as well as non-governmental organisations. (Click here to see what some of our alumni are up to).

Research at Edinburgh

Our undergraduate and post-graduate degrees offer opportunities for broad and more specialist programmes that feed off and in turn influence our areas of research expertise.  We have a world-leading reputation in four areas:

1. Territorial politics and federalism

We offer the world’s largest collection of scholars working on comparative and UK territorial politics.  Click here to read more …

2. Security studies

Our specialism in security studies reflects the importance and diversification of 'security' in international and political life. Click here to read more …

3. European politics

Edinburgh is an acknowledged international centre of excellence for teaching and research on European politics.  Click here to read more …

4. Political theory and international ethics

Our work in political theory and the ethics of public and international affairs is recognised as world class.  Click here to read more …

This doesn’t cover all that we do. We also have research groups on International Political Economy, and on Gender, for example, and participate in School-wide research groups on Public Policy, Migration and Citizenship, Environment and Society and Quantitative Methods.  Our geographic focus also cuts across each of these larger themes.  We have particular strengths in European, Middle East and African Politics. Staff lead the Europa Institute (along with the School of Law), are involved with the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW) and the Centre of African Studies.  Staff also run or are part of networks of scholars with the Centre of Canadian Studies and the Princess Dashkova Centre.  We also help to run larger Institutes and Academies such as the Just World Institute, the Academy of Government and the Global Justice Academy and the Global Environment and Society Academy.

Studying at Edinburgh

We offer undergraduate (MA honours), and postgraduate (MSc and PHD) degrees.

Our undergraduate degrees

For information on our various undergraduate degrees, click here.

Our post-graduate degrees At the post-graduate level we offer six taught MSc programmes, three of which cover broad sub-disciplines: click here.

Please take a look through the pages of our website. We look forward to hearing from you.

Ailsa Henderson

Professor of Political Science

Head, Politics and International Relations

Edinburgh Students