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Politics and International Relations (PIR): People


James Mitchell

James Mitchell
Professor James Mitchell FAcSS, FRSE
Professor of Public Policy Academy of Government
B.02 21 George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9JW
+44 (0) 131 651 5767



Completed undergraduate degree at Aberdeen University and doctoral thesis at Nuffield College, Oxford University.  Holds the Chair in Public Policy having previously held Chair in Public Policy in the University of Sheffield (1998-2000) and Chair in Politics in the University of Strathclyde (2000-2013).  He joined the School in April 2013. Interests primarily in territorial politics, public policy and government, political behaviour:

  • multi-level governance and the territorial dimensions of public policy;
  • regionalism and nationalism;
  • and political behaviour with special reference to sub-state levels of government.

His most recent book published in October 2017, Hamilton 1967, (Edinburgh, Luath) is an attempt to explain political turbulence in the 1960s through the lens of the November 1967 Hamilton by-election.

He co-authored (with Rob Johns) Takeover: explaining the extraordinary rise of the Scottish National Party London, Biteback Publishing May 2016.

A study of the 1967 Hamilton by-election seeks to explain the rise of the SNP in the 1960s.  The wider political and social context in Scotland and across a number of liberal democracies as well as the institutional learning that occurred inside the SNP, the nature of the campaign and an outstanding candidate all contributed to what is argued was the most significantly by-election in modern Scottish politics.  The book will be published by Luath, Edinburgh in October 2017.

James Mitchell and Ailsa Henderson explain the outcome of the 2017 general election in Scotland in a forthcoming issue of Parliamentary Affairs.


In 2016, he co-edited (with Gerry Hassan) Scottish National Party Leaders (Biteback Publishing September 2016), part of Biteback's series on Party Leaders:

The Scottish Question, was published by Oxford University Pres in July 2014 and sets debates on Scotland's constitutional status into wider historical and public policy contexts and was completed while holding an ESRC Fellowship.  This book was amongst those listed by the Independent's Andy McSmith in his list of books of the year 2014.

He co-authored (with Chris Carman in Glasgow University and Rob Johns in Essex University) More Scottish than British: the 2011 Scottish Parliament Election, published by Palgrave Macmillan in February 2014.

His  primary interest currently is in public service reform following a period serving as a member of the Christie Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services.  He has been engaged in debates on public services, speaking at many conferences and events.  In addition, he completed a report, entitled 'People and Places', commissioned by the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives in Scotland in 2014 and has recently been working with SOLACE on educational governance.

He has been involved in various public service leadership and other training programmes including working with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and the Justice sector Leadership for Outcomes course which he was involved in teaching, advising and evaluating.

He is currently a member of the joint Scottish Parliament/Scottish Government Budget Process Review Group:

He has given evidence to various Parliamentary Committees in Westminster, Holyrood and Stormont on devolved government, constitutional politics and public policy.

He was recently appointed to the joint Scottish Parliament/Scottish Government Budget Review Group with the folloinwg remit:

To carry out a fundamental review of the Scottish Parliament’s budget process following the devolution of further powers in the Scotland Act 2012 and Scotland Act 2016.  To bring forward proposals for a revised budget process which are consistent as far as possible with the principles of the Financial Issues Advisory Group for consideration by the Finance Committee and the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution.

Co-Investigator on the ESRC's Scottish Referendum Study (with Ailsa Henderson, Chris Carman and Robb Johns of the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Essex):

Co-Investigator on ESRC study of Scottish National Party and Scottish Greens (with Lynn Bennie and Rob Johns)

Co-Investigator on ESRC study of Scottish Elections 2016 (with Chris Carman, Ailsa Henderson and Rob Johns) 

Currently on editorial boards of Parliamentary Affairs, British Journal of Politics and International RelationsTerritory Politics Governance, and Polski PrzeglÄÂÂÂ…d Politologiczny (Polish Political Science Review).


I teach on the Masters in Public Policy degree, offering the core class The Politics of Public Policy and teach UK politics three times a year on the Interns programme.  In addition, I teach on other ad hoc courses over the course of the year including our intense course offered to Taiwanese civil servants.  I have also taught on the Parliamentary Studies module.

External lectures delivered: College of Policing, Scottish Police College, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and range of other public servants on public service reform.  Lectures and seminars delivered in the last year include:

Bosnian officials; Chinese officials; Dutch offiicals; Danish civil servants; Indian Federal Govt officials; Scottish Health officials; Local government officials and elected members in various places; Senior Police officers; senior Fire and Rescue officers; Third sector organisations

PhD Supervision

Over the last thirty years, he has supervised Masters and PhDs on public policy, matters related to constitutional politics (including devolution, intergovernmental relations and local government), and political parties.  Particular interest in applications from research students working on:

- territorial politics including devolution and intergovernmental relations;

- Scottish and UK party politics, especially nationalism;

- prevention, integration and collaboration and public engagement in public policy.

Qualifications and fellowships

MA (Political Studies), Aberdeen University

D.Phil. (Oxon)

Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences

Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh



James Mitchell (2017), Hamilton 1967, Edinburgh, Luath.

James Mitchell and G Hassan (editors) (2016), Scottish National Party Leaders, Biteback Publishing, [part of Biteback's The British Leaders series] 

Rob Johns and James Mitchell (2016), Takeover: explaining the extraordinary rise of the SNP, Biteback Publishing.

James Mitchell (2014), The Scottish Question, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

C. Carman, R. Johns & J. Mitchell (2014), More Scottish than British: The 2011 Scottish Parliament Election, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Gerry Hassan & James Mitchell (eds.) (2013), After Independence Edinburgh, Luath Press.

J. Mitchell, R. Johns & L. Bennie (2011), The Scottish National Party, Oxford University Press, pp.224, ISBN 0199580006.

R. Johns, J. Mitchell, D. Denver, & C. Pattie (2010), Voting for a Scottish Government: The Scottish Parliament Elections of 2007, Manchester, Manchester University Press, pp.256, ISBN 0719081084.

J. Mitchell (2009), Devolution in the United Kingdom, Manchester, Manchester University Press pp.261, ISBN 978 0 7190 5358 0.

J. Mitchell (2003), Governing Scotland: The Invention of Administrative Devolution, Basingstoke, MacMillan, pp.259, ISBN 0-333-74323-7

With C. Jeffrey (eds.) (2009), The Scottish Parliament 1999-2009: The First Decade, Edinburgh, Luath Press/Hansard Society, pp.167.

D. Denver, J. Mitchell, C. Pattie & H. Bochel (2000), Scotland Decides: The Devolution Issue and the 1997 Referendum, London, Frank Cass  pp.240, ISBN 0-7146-5053-6.

L. Bennie, J. Brand, and J. Mitchell (1997), How Scotland Votes: Scottish Parties and Elections Manchester University Press, pp.174, ISBN 0-7190-4510X.

J. Mitchell (1996) Strategies for Self-Government, Edinburgh, Polygon, pp.350, ISBN 0-7486-61131.

A. Midwinter, M Keating & J. Mitchell (1991), Politics and Public Policy in Scotland, Macmillan, pp.240, ISBN 0-333-52265-6.

J. Mitchell (1990), Conservatives and the Union, Edinburgh University Press, (paperback edition 1991) pp.160, ISBN 0-7486-0123-6.


A. McHarg & J. Mitchell, 'Brexit and Scotland' in British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Special Issue, Online version:

DOI: 10.1177/1369148117711674

J. Mitchell (2015), 'Sea Change in Scotland' in A Geddes and J. Tonge (eds.), Britain Votes 2015, Oxford University Press/Hansard Society.

Paolo Dardanelli and James Mitchell (2014), ‘An Independent Scotland?  The Scottish National Party’s bid for Independence and its Prospects’, The International Spectator: Italian Journal of International Affairs, vol. 49, pp.1-18.

Jonathan Wheatley, Christopher Carman, Fernando Mendez, J. Mitchell, ‘The dimensionality of the Scottish political space: Results from an experiment on the 2011 Holyrood elections’, Party Politics (available online)

Johns, R., Carman, C. and Mitchell, J. (2013) ‘Competence over constitution: the SNP's re-election in 2011’, Political Studies vol.61, pp.158-178.

Johns, R., Bennie, L. and Mitchell, J. (2011), “Gendered nationalism? The gender gap in support for the Scottish National Party”, Party Politics, vol18, 4, pp.581-601.

Pattie, C., Denver, D., Johns, R. and Mitchell, J. (2011), “Raising the tone? The impact of 'positive' and 'negative' campaigning on voting in the 2007 Scottish Parliament election”, Electoral Studies, vol.30, 333-43.

J. Mitchell and Arno Van Der Zwet (2010), A Catenaccio Game: the 2010 Election in Scotland’, Parliamentary Affairs, vol.63, pp. 708-725.

J. Mitchell (2010), ‘The Narcissism of Small Differences: Scotland and Westminster’, Parliamentary Affairs, vol.63, pp.98-116.

J. Mitchell (2010), ‘The Westminster Model and the State of the Unions’, Parliamentary Affairs, vol.63, pp.85-88.  Introduction to special edited half issue of journal.

R. Johns, J. Mitchell, D. Denver, C. Pattie (2009), ‘Valence Politics in Scotland: Towards an explanation of the 207 election’, Political Studies, vol.57, 207-33.

James Mitchell (2009), ‘Summoning the Harpies: Legitimacy and the Anglo-Scottish Relationship’, Scottish Affairs, no.68, pp.36-56.

C. Carman, J. Mitchell and R. Johns (2008), 'The Unfortunate Natural Experiment in Ballot Design: The Scottish Parliamentary Elections of 2007' Electoral Studies, vol.27, pp.442-459.** Winner of the American Political Science Association’s Lawrence Longley Award for the best article on representation or electoral systems published in 2008.**

Topics interested in supervising

Public policy, Public service reform, Scottish politics, territorial politics and government, electoral politics and political behaviour

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

PhD in Politics