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Politics and International Relations (PIR): People


Ailsa Henderson

Ailsa Henderson
Professor Ailsa Henderson FRSE
Professor of Political Science
3.09 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 651 1618
Research Interests
Political behaviour, political culture, Regionalism, voting and elections, comparative territorial politics, UK, Scotland, Quebec-Scotland comparisons, European values, Public opinion and Political attitudes

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Meetings by appointment.


  • Baccalauréat ès sciences sociales, science politique (Université  d'Ottawa)
  • MSc Social Research (Edinburgh)
  • PhD  Politics (Edinburgh)

Current Teaching and Research Interests

Professor Ailsa Henderson conducts research on political culture(s) and political behaviour in federal and multi-national states, and focuses in particular on variations in political culture at the sub-state level. Her publications explore how national identity, federalism, devolution or institutional design can affect regional variations in political attitudes and behaviours.  

Professor Henderson is Principal Investigator for the ESRC-funded Scottish Election Study and co-directs the Future of England Survey, both of which conduct large surveys of attitudes and behaviour.  Since 2018 the FoES has conducted an annual State of the Union survey to conduct a 360 degree review of attitudes to the union in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Recent international grants cover political parties and voting behaviour in Scotland and Quebec (SSHRCC) and the Provincial Diversity Project, a study of attitudinal variation across the ten Canadian provinces (SSHRCC).

Professor Henderson teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in quantitative methods, research methods and research design, British/Scottish and comparative politics.

A member of the UK REF panel (Politics and International Studies), Henderson is currently deputy chair of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland (local elections, Holyrood elections) and a commissioner on the Boundary Commission for Scotland (Westminster elections). In 2007 she served as working groups chair for the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform.

Professor Henderson is a member of the Elections, Public Opinion and Parties research group, the Territorial Politics research group, the SPS-wide Quantitative Methods research group and Q-Step group.  She is a consultant editor for the British Journal of Politics & International Relations, and serves on the Advisory Editorial Boards of Regional and Federal Studies, and Parliamentary Affairs, on the advisory boards of the Welsh Election Study and the Qualitative Election Study of Britain as a Board Member of the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy and a member of Official Statistics Section of the Royal Statistical Society.

Edinburgh Research Explorer profile can be accessed here:

PhD Supervision

Professor Henderson is able to offer PhD supervision on comparative as well as UK and Canadian topics covering 4 themes:

  • electoral and referendum behaviour (voters and parties), electoral systems and electoral reform
  • territorial politics and federalism, nationalism and devolution
  • political culture, political attitudes and public opinion
  • civic engagement, especially among young people, and mandated participation (eg compulsory voting and compulsory community service)

Current and recent PhD/ MSc by Research supervision includes:


  • Alia Middleton, Constituency campaigning in UK elections
  • Ibrahim Sani, Electoral governance in Nigeria
  • Charlotte Snelling, Youth turnout in UK Elections
  • Mor Kandlik Eltanani, Social movement organisations
  • Alexandra Remond, Secession referendums in comparative perspective


  • Shirley Pat Chamberlain, Citizenship in Aboriginal communities in Canada
  • Isabella Gabrovsky, The experiences of Syrian refugees in Scotland and England
  • Yazmin Morlet Corti, Political culture and attitudes to privacy



Ailsa Henderson and Richard Wyn Jones (2021) Englishness: The Political Force Transforming Britain (Oxford University Press)

Ailsa Henderson and Mike Medeiros, Eds (2021) Identities and attitudes to decentralization in multi-level states: Understanding the territorial scales of political life (special issue of Comparative European Politics) 

Éric Bélanger, Richard Nadeau, Ailsa Henderson and Eve Hepburn (2018) The National Question and Electoral Politics in Quebec and Scotland (McGill-Queen's University Press) UK nominee, International Council of Canadian Studies Pierre Savard Award 2020

Ailsa Henderson, Charlie Jeffery and Daniel Wincott, Eds (2013) Citizenship After the Nation State (Palgrave)

Ailsa Henderson, Ed, (2011) Why Regions Matter: Small Worlds in Comparative Perspective (Routledge) 

Ailsa Henderson, Ed, (2009) Nunavut at Ten (special issue of the Journal of Canadian Studies 43(2) 

Ailsa Henderson (2007) Hierarchies of Belonging: national identity and political culture in Scotland and Quebec (McGill-Queen's University Press)

Ailsa Henderson (2007) Nunavut: Rethinking Political Culture (UBC Press). Shortlisted, CPSA Donald Smiley Prize. Best book in Canadian political science 2008 

Colin Coates and Ailsa Henderson, Eds,  (2005) Scotland-Quebec: An Evolving Comparison (special issue of British Journal of Canadian Studies 18 (1/2).

Articles (2014-)

Ailsa Henderson, Ed Gareth Poole, Richard Wyn Jones, Daniel Wincott, Jac Larner and Charlie Jeffery (2020, online first) “Analysing vote choice in a multinational state: national identity and territorial differentiation in the 2016 Brexit vote” Regional Studies Online First

Antoine Bilodeau, Audrey Gagnon, Steve White, Luc Turgeon and Ailsa Henderson (2020) “Attitudes towards ethnocultural diversity in multi-level political communities: comparing the effect of national and subnational attachments in Canada” Publius Online First

Ailsa Henderson, Rob Johns, Jac Larner and Chris Carman (2020) “Scottish Labour as a Case Study in Party Failure: Evidence from the 2019 UK General Election in Scotland” Scottish Affairs 29(2): 127-40

Luc Turgeon, Antoine Bilodeau, Steve White, Ailsa Henderson and Alain-G Gagnon (2019) “Symbolic Predispositions, Interests and Official Languages Legislation: Exploring the Principle-Implementation Gap in Canada” Politics, Groups and Identities Early Online 

Luc Turgeon, Antoine Bilodeau, Stephen E. White and Ailsa Henderson (2019) “A Tale of Two Liberalisms? Attitudes toward Minority Religious Symbols in Quebec and Canada” Canadian Journal of Political Science 52(2): 247-65. Winner, John McMenemy Prize, best article appearing in CJPS in 2019

Robert Liñeira and Ailsa Henderson (2019) “Risk Attitudes and Independence Vote Choice” Political Behavior Online First: 

Iain Hardie, Ailsa Henderson and Charlotte Rommerskirchen (2019) “The impact of treasury yields on US presidential approval, 1960-2010” New Political Economy 25(6) 1022-40

Ailsa Henderson, Steven D. Brown and S. Mark Pancer (2019) “Curriculum Requirements and Subsequent Civic Engagement: Is there a difference between ‘forced’ and ‘free’ community service?” British Journal of Sociology 70(4): 1297-1322

Antoine Bilodeau, Luc Turgeon, Stephen White and Ailsa Henderson (2018) “Strange Bedfellows? Attitudes toward Minority Religious Symbols in the Public Sphere” Politics & Religion 11(2): 309-33 

Ailsa Henderson and James Mitchell (2018) “Referendums as Critical Junctures? Scottish Voting in British Elections” Parliamentary Affairs 71 (1): 109-24

Ailsa Henderson, Charlie Jeffery, Dan Wincott and Richard Wyn Jones (2017) "How Brexit was Made in England" British Journal of Politics and International Relations 19(4): 631-46 Shortlisted, BJPIR best article appearing in 2017

Charlie Jeffery, Ailsa Henderson, Richard Wyn Jones and Roger Scully (2016) "England’s Dissatisfactions and the Conservative Dilemma" Political Studies Review (14)3: 335-48

Ailsa Henderson, Charlie Jeffery, Robert Liñeira, Roger Scully, Daniel Wincott and Richard Wyn Jones (2016) “England, Englishness and Brexit” Political Quarterly 87(2): 187-99

Ailsa Henderson and Valentyna Romanova (2016) “Multi-level voting and party competition in vertically simultaneous elections: the case of Ukraine” Post-Soviet Affairs 32(3): 201-236

Ailsa Henderson, Charlie Jeffery and Robert Liñeira (2015) “National identity or national interest?: Scottish, English and Welsh Attitudes to the Constitutional Debate” Political Quarterly 86(2): 265-74

Ailsa Henderson and Nicola McEwen (2015) “Regions as Primary Political Communities: A multi-level comparative analysis of turnout in regional elections” Publius 45(2): 189-215

Ailsa Henderson, S. Mark Pancer and Steven D. Brown (2014) "Creating Effective Civic Engagement Policy for Adolescents: Quantitative and Qualitative Evaluations of Compulsory Community Service", Journal of Adolescent Research 29(1): 120-54

Chapters (2014-)

Ailsa Henderson, Christopher Carman, Rob Johns and James Mitchell (2018) “Migration, Engagement and Constitutional Preferences: Evidence from the 2014 Scottish independence referendum” in Tom M Devine and Angela McCarthy, Eds, New Scots: Scotland's Immigrant Communities since 1945. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 

Ailsa Henderson and James Mitchell (2018) “Referendums as Critical Junctures? Scottish Voting in British Elections” in Jonathan Tonge, Cristina Leston-Bandeira and Stuart Wilks-Heeg, Eds, Britain Votes 2017. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Robert Liñeira, Ailsa Henderson and Liam Delaney (2017) “Voters’ Responses to the Referendum Campaign” in Michael Keating, Ed, Debating Scotland. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 165-90

Ailsa Henderson (2016) “Scotland” in Marc Sanjaume and Daniel Turp, Eds, The Emergence of a Democratic Right to Self Determination in Europe. Brussels: Maurits Coppieters Center: 182-91

Ailsa Henderson “The Freedom to Make Identical Decisions: The Devolution Paradox” in Philip Cowley and Robert Ford, Eds, More Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box London: Biteback Press, 181-4

Ailsa Henderson (2016) “Différenciation institutionnelle: la perception de la différence et les multiples communautés politiques à l’intérieur de l’État” in Jean François Caron, Ed, Les Conditions de L’Unité Politique et de la Sécession dans les Sociétés Multinationales. Québec : Presses de l’Université Laval : 41-60

Ailsa Henderson and Graham White (2015) “Managing the political moraine: Political Economy and Political culture Approaches to Assessing the Success of Nunavut” in Bryan Evans and Charles Smith, Eds, Transforming Provincial Politics: The Political Economy of Canada’s Provinces and Territories in the Neoliberal Era.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Ailsa Henderson (2014) “The myth of meritocratic Scotland: Political culture(s) in the UK in Philip Cowley and Rob Ford, Eds, Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box London: Biteback Press: 103-107


Ailsa Henderson, Charlie Jeffery and Daniel Wincott, Eds, Citizenship After the Nation State. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Which includes 

Ailsa Henderson, Charlie Jeffery, Daniel Wincott and Richard Wyn Jones "Citizenship after devolution in the United Kingdom: public attitudes in Scotland and Wales" pp31-51

Ailsa Henderson "Citizenship in Europe: A comparative examination of the rescaling of political life" pp155-80

Richard Wyn Jones, Guy Lodge, Charlie Jeffery, Glenn Gottfired, Roger Scully, Ailsa Henderson and Daniel Wincott (2013) England and its two unions: The anatomy of a nation and its discontents (London: Institute for Public Policy Research)

Ailsa Henderson, Charlie Jeffery, Daniel Wincott and Richard Wyn Jones (2013), "Reflections on the Devolution Paradox: a comparative examination of multi-level citizenship", Regional Studies 47(3): 303-22

Ailsa Henderson, Steven D. Brown, S. Mark Pancer (2012), "Social and Political Dimensions of Civic Engagement: The Impact of Compulsory Community Service', Politics and Policy 40(1): 93-130.

Richard Wyn Jones, Guy Lodge, Ailsa Henderson and Daniel Wincott (2012) The Dog that Finally Barked: England as an emerging political community (London: Institute for Public Policy Research)

Ailsa Henderson, Ed (2011) , Why Regions Matter: Small Worlds in Comparative Perspective.  London: Routledge. Reprint of Ailsa Henderson (2010) Why Regions Matter: Sub-state Polities as Small Worlds, Guest editor, Regional and Federal Studies 20(4/5) 

Which includes

Ailsa Henderson (2011) "Why Regions Matter: Sub-state Polities in Comparative Perspective" : 1-8

Ailsa Henderson (2011) "'Small Worlds' as Predictors of General Political Attitudes": 31-48

Ailsa Henderson and Nicola McEwen (2010) "A Comparative Analysis of Voter Turnout in Regional Elections" Electoral Studies  29(3): 405-16 

Ailsa Henderson (2010) "Greater than the Sum of its Parts: Political Cultures and Regions in Canada" in Heather MacIvor (ed) Election. Toronto: Emond Montgomery

Ailsa Henderson (2009) Nunavut at 10, Guest editor, Journal of Canadian Studies, 43(2)

Which includes

Ailsa Henderson (2009) "Lessons for Social Science in the Study of New Polities: Nunavut at 10" Journal of Canadian Studies 43(2): 5-22

Ailsa Henderson (2009) "Institutional Boundaries and Regionalism: Social, Economic and Political Regions in the Canadian Arctic" Journal of Canadian Studies 43(2): 109-36

Ailsa Henderson (2008) "Satisfaction with democracy: evidence from Westminster systems" Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 18(1): 3-26

Ailsa Henderson (2008) "Self-government in Nunavut" in Yale Belanger (ed) Aboriginal Self-government in Canada (Saskatoon: Purich) 222-239

2006-2007 (selection only)

Ailsa Henderson, Steven D. Brown, Kimberly Ellis-Hale and S. Mark Pancer, "The effect of mandatory volunteering in high school on civic engagement: the case of the double cohort, in Ontario, Canada", Journal of Youth and Adolescence 2007 36 (7): 849-60 

Ailsa Henderson "Identity measurement in Scotland and Quebec: the meaning and salience of identity markers", British Journal of Canadian Studies 2007 18(1/2): 269-91

Ailsa Henderson "Cultural renaissance or economic emancipation: predictors of support for devolution in Nunavut" Journal of Canadian Studies 2007 41(2): 1-23

Ailsa Henderson "A Porous and Pragmatic Settlement: Asymmetrical Devolution and Democratic Constraint in Scotland and Wales", in Andrew McDonald (ed) Reinventing Britain (London: Methuen, 2007) 151-69

Ailsa Henderson "Politics without parties: citizen engagement and interest articulation in consensus systems", in Alain G. Gagnon and Brian Tanguay (eds) Canadian  Parties in Transition, 3rd ed. (Peterborough: Broadview, 2007): 215-240.

Ailsa Henderson, Steven D. Brown, David Docherty, Barry Kay and Kimberly Ellis-Hale "Voter Dealignment or Campaign Effects: Accounting for Political Preferences in Ontario", American Review of Canadian Studies 2006 36 (4): 612-26.

Steven D. Brown, David Docherty, Ailsa Henderson, Barry Kay and Kimberly Ellis-Hale "Exit polling in Canada: An Experiment", Canadian Journal of Political Science 2006 39(4): 919-33

Ailsa Henderson "Consequences of Electoral Reform: lessons for Canada", Canadian Public Policy 2006 32(1): 41-58

Topics interested in supervising

political behaviour, political culture, referendums and elections, civic engagement, nationalism (esp Scotland-Quebec comparisons)

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

PhD in Canadian Studies; PhD in Politics; MPhil in Canadian Studies; MSc (R) Politics