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Politics and International Relations (PIR): People


James Mitchell

James Mitchell
Professor James Mitchell FAcSS, FRSE
Professor of Public Policy
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).  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.

Currently working on publications drawn from studies of Scottish independence referendum, Scottish elections, surge in SNP and Green Party membership and public service reform with focus on prevention in public policy and reform of local governance.

Co-editor of The Scottish Parliament at 20 (Edinburgh, Luath  2019).

Hamilton 1967, (Edinburgh, Luath).

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


Co-editor (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 Press 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.

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

In 2017, he was appointed to the joint Scottish Parliament/Scottish Government Budget Review Group with the following 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.

In 2018, he was a member of the 'Enabling group' advising Scottish Government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on the review of local governance,

Late 2018/early 2019: advising the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on the future of local governance, as part of the Joint COSLA/Scottish Government Review of Local Governance.

October 2018: Delivered public lecture as part of Montana State University’s College of Letters and Sciences Distinguished Speakers Series on UK Constitutional Politics.

2020: Member of the Expert Legacy Group advising Holyrood Finance and Constitutional Change Committee.

Current funded research projects include:

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) 

Co-Investigator on ESRC study of 2019 election in Scotland (with Chris Carman, Ailsa Henderson and Rob Johns) 

Co-Evaluator of Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service reforms - producing annual reports on the reforms:

Year One: Report

Year Two: Partnership, Innovation and Prevention,

Year Three: Evaluation of Police and Fire & Rescue Evaluation,

Member of COSLA BREXIT working group .

With Professor Ailsa Henderson, assisted with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service consultation on reform – including analysis of consultation data and presentation to SFRS Board. 

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


I teach on Parliamentary Programme preparing students for placements with Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs).

Honours course (from Jan 2019) on Constitutional Politics in the UK.

In addition, contribute to teaching on  courses on leadership, and British Politics.

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 recent years include:

Bosnian officials; Chinese officials; Dutch officials; 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; COSLA annual conference.

PhD Supervision

Over the last thirty years, supervised Masters and PhDs on public policy, devolution, 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



Jim Johnston and James Mitchell (editors) (2019), The Scottish Parliament at 20, Edinburgh, Luath.

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.


N. Bland, A. Calder, N. Fyfe, S. Anderson, J. Micthell and S. Reid (2021), 'Public Policy Reform and Polive Prevention Practice: A Journey Upstream?' Policing: Journal of Policy and Practice, (Online version available).

David Parker, Pavielle Haines, Alan Convery, James Mitchell (2020), 'Questioning Scrutiny: The Effect of Prime Minister’s Questions on Citizen Efficacy and Trust in Parliament',  Journal of Legislative Studies.

James Mitchell (2020), 'The Scottish Question Revisited: constitutional options for Scotland', Jimmy Reid Foundation,

L. Bennie, J. Mitchell and R. Johns (2020), 'Parties, movements and the 2014 Scottish independence referendum: Explaining the post-referendum party membership surges', Party Politics online version.

James Mitchell (2019), 'Local Government and Devolution: mutual respect and parity of esteem?', Edinburgh Law Review, vol.23, pp.428-434.

James Mitchell (2019), A tale of two elections', Consulta Online,

James Mitchell (2018), 'From interdependency to co-dependency: changing relations in UK and devolved governments post-Brexit', Political Quarterly, vol.89, no.4, pp.576-583.

Nicholas Fyfe, Simon Anderson, Nick Bland, Amy Goulding, James Mitchell, Susan Reid (2018), 'Experiencing Organizational Change During an Era of Reform: Police Scotland, Narratives of Localism, and Perceptions from the ‘Frontline’' Policing: a journal of policy and practice.

 Ailsa Henderson and James Mitchell (2018), ‘Referendums as critical junctures? Scottish Voting in British elections’, Parliamentary affairs (and chapter in Oxford University book Jon Tonge, Cristina Leston-Bandeira and Stuart Wilks-Heeg (eds.s), Britain Votes).

Audit 2017: How democratic is local government in Scotland?:

J. Mitchell, L. Bennie, R. Johns (2017), 'Referendum as platform: the SNP and Scottish Green membership surge', Political Insight, vol.8, pp.16-19.

A. McHarg & J. Mitchell (2017), '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.

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.

Jonathan Wheatley, Christopher Carman, Fernando Mendez, J. Mitchell (2012), ‘The dimensionality of the Scottish political space: Results from an experiment on the 2011 Holyrood elections’, Party Politics, vol.6, pp.864-878.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.**

Chapters in Edited Books:

James Mitchell (2020), 'Leadership, Learning and Knowledge: Lessons from COVID-19', in Gerry Hassan and Simon Barrow (eds), Scotland After the Vurus, Edinburgh, Luath Press. Ltd.

James Mitchell and Ailsa Henderson (2020), 'Tribes and Turbulence: the 2019 election in Scotland', in J. Tonge, S. Wilks-Heeg and L. Thompspm (eds), Britain Votes: the 2019 General Election, Oxford, Oxford University Press/Hansard Society.

James Mitchell (2020), ‘Sovereigns, Sovereignties and the Scottish Question: Identities and Constitutional Change’ in Harshan Kumarasingham (ed), Vice Regalism Palgrave Macmillan.

James (Mitchell 2020), ‘Participation in a small archipelago: The Shetland negotiations’ chapter in Rachael Lorna Johnstone and Anne Merrild Hansen (eds), Regulation of Extractive Industries: Community Engagement in the Arctic, London, Routledge.

James Mitchell and Ailsa Henderson (2020), ‘Elections and Electoral Systems’ in Michael Keating (ed) Oxford Handbook of Scottish Politics, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Ailsa Henderson, Rob Johns, Christopher Carman and James Mitchell (2020), ‘Political Behaviour in Scotland’ in Michael Keating (ed) Oxford Handbook of Scottish Politics, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Nicole Bolleyer, Nicholas Dickinson, James Mitchell (2019), 'La rémunération du travail politique au Royaume-Uni', in Johanna Rousseau (ed), La rémunération du travail politique, Berger-Levrault.

James Mitchell (2018), 'Scotland: local government and politics', in Patrick Dunleavy, Alice Park and Ros Taylor (eds), The UK's Changing Democracy, London, LSE Press, pp.290-297.

James Mitchell (2018), ‘Devolution’ in David Brown, Robert Crowcroft and Gordon Pentland (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern British Political History, 1800-2000, Oxford University Press.

James Mitchell (2018), 'Social work in a system of multi-level governance', in V. Cree and M. Smith (eds), Social Work in a Changing Scotland, London, Routledge, pp.18-27.

James Mitchell (2017), The Meaning of Independence’, in G Hassan and S. Barrow (eds), A Nation Changed? The SNP and Scotland Ten Years on, Edinburgh, Luath.

James Mitchell (2016), ‘The Referendum Campaign’ in Aileen McHarg, Tom Mullen, Neil Walker, Alan Page (eds.), The Scottish independence referendum: constitutional and political implications, Oxford University Press.

James Mitchell (2016), ‘A tale of two referendums’, in Adam Hug (ed), Europe and the people: Examining Europe’s democratic legitimacy, London, Foreign Policy Centre.

James Mitchell ( 2016), ‘The Campaign’, in Neil Blain, Gerry Hassan and David Hutchison (eds.), Scotland’s Referendum and the Media, Edinburgh University Press.

James Mitchell, (2015), ‘State transformation in pursuit of continuity’ in Robert Wiszniowski (ed.), Challenges to Representative Democracy, Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang, pp.201-222.

James Mitchell (2014), Scotland’s other Constitutional Debate’, in Paddy Bort (ed.), View from Zollernblick: Regional Perspectives in Europe – a Festschrift for Christopher Harvie, Grace Notes.

James Mitchell (2014), ‘The two unions and the Scottish and European Questions’ in Adam Hug (ed) Renegotiation, Reform and Referendum: Does Britain have an EU Future?’  London, Foreign Policy Centre.  ISBN 978-905833-26-9

Topics interested in supervising

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

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

PhD in Politics