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Politics and International Relations (PIR): People


Saskia Smellie

Saskia Smellie
Saskia Smellie
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
07530 882515
Research Interests
Politics of Migration and Asylum Policy, Responsibility-Sharing, European Union, Foreign Policy, Role Theory

PhD Title

Explaining Variation in Refugee Protection Policy in the EU: National Role Conceptions and Domestic Political Constraints


Professor Juliet Kaarbo & Professor Christina Boswell

Research Project

My research project 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. 


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

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

Publications & Conference Papers

Smellie S. (2018) 'Merkel, Coalition Politics and Negotiating the Common European Asylum System: Constrained by Domestic Actors?'. Crossroads Europe Blog, UACES. 

June 2018: 'Explaining Variation in Refugee and Asylum Policy in the EU: A Role Theory Approach', UACES Graduate Forum Conference, Lueven, Belgium.

Boswell, C., Kyambi, S. and Smellie S. (2017) 'Scottish and UK Immigration Policy After Brexit: Evaluating Options for a Differentiated Approach'. Working Paper.

Boswell, C., Kyambi, S. and Smellie S. (2017) 'Scottish and UK Immigration Policy after Brexit: Evaluating Options for a Differentiated Aprroach'. Policy Note, Scottish Centre on European Relations.

Feb 2017: ‘Explaining Variation in Refugee Protection Policy and Responsibility Sharing in the EU: A Role Theory Approach’International Studies Association's 58th Annual Convention, Baltimore, USA.

Public Engagement & Knowledge Exchange

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

Co-Convenor; Role Research Group, Unversity of Edinburgh. Organising Role Research & FPA Conference in May 2017.

Panelist; 'Tomorrow's Europe - what does it mean to you?'; Europa Institute & 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 – present; 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 International Studies Association

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

Role Research Group (Co-Convenor), University of Edinburgh

International Relations Research Group, University of Edinburgh

Europa Research Group, University of Edinburgh