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Politics and International Relations (PIR): People


Sissela Matzner

Sissela Matzner
Sissela Matzner
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
Foreign Policy, Political parties, Responsibility, Narratives, Humanitarianism, Political violence, Conflict, Military intervention

PhD working title

The Politics of Intervention: An Exploration of Political Parties’ Foreign Policy on Military Intervention in Ongoing Conflicts


  • preparing for viva in May 2018
  • interning in the Scottish Government, Strategic Analysis Unit
  • assisting Political Settlements Research Programme (6 hours/week)
  • co-organising EISA early career scholar workshop
  • working on publications and research proposals

Research interests other than thesis include: Austrian foreign policy and political parties, left-wing parties and foreign policy, environmental foreign policy, and many many animals.


Professor Juliet Kaarbo

Dr Andrea Birdsall

Completed courses

Research Skills for the Social Sciences: Data Collection; Research Design; Theory and Practice of Social and Political Research; Explaining and Understanding in Social and Political Research; Analysing Qualitative Data (auditor).

Audited honours courses Human Rights in International Relations and Democracy and its Discontents.


M.Sc. by Research in History, University of Edinburgh.

M.Sc. Social Policy and Planning, LSE, Graduate Merit Award.

B.A. Politics, University of Essex.

Research experience

Research assistant for Professor Christine Bell (School of Law): assisted with translations and coded for the Political Settlements Research Programme, 2015-2016.

Research assistant (full-time 6 weeks) for Professor Christine Bell (School of Law): coded peace agreements in French-, Portuguese- and Spanish-language for a UN Women funded research project, February-March 2015.

Research assistant for Dr Eve Hepburn (School of Social and Political Science): transcribed interviews with Bavarian and Quebecois party officials, and collected party manifestos from Bavaria, Catalunia and Quebec, February-May 2015.

Teaching experience

Course convener and co-convenor

Fundamentals 2: PIR (PLIT08010), course convenor, autumn 2015, 2016, 2017.

PIR Final Year Careers Events, convenor and host, 2015-2016, 2016-2017, 2017-2018.

Parties and Party Systems in Contemporary Democracies (PLIT10083), co-convenor and senior tutor, autumn 2015 (4 tutorial groups).

EUSA Teaching Award nominee 2016 for Parties and Party Systems and 2017 for PIR Final Year Careers Events.

Tutor/teaching assistant

International Cooperation in Europe and Beyond (PLIT 08006), autumn 2015 (3 tutorial groups) and autumn 2014 (5 tutorial groups).

Tutor training

Training, School of Social and Political Sciences, 2014-2015.

Institute for Academic Development (IAD) courses 2014-2015: Introduction to Online Tutoring, Effective Tutoring, and Troubleshooting Tutorials.

Other work experience during PhD (by skills)

Communication and Public Relations

Communications Officer (current), Political Settlements Research Programme. I assist with internal and external communication. I update the PSRP website and help to disseminate research outputs among other tasks.

Course preparation and handbook writing

Assistant (May-July 2016), Dr Carmen Gebhard (School of Social and Political Science). I worked on the 'postgraduate induction experience' project to bring all useful information for new SPS Taught Masters students into one place on the website. I drafted the Learning and Academic Skills Handbook on critical thinking and writing at postgraduate level,  including practical examples and exercises.

Event organisation, hosting and admin

Assistant (Jan 2016-Dec 2017),  Centre for Security Research (School of Social and Political Science). I organised a series of network seminars on global health, international conflict and climate security in Spring 2016 and CeSeR's June '17 conference on International Security After Brexit and Trump. I was in charge of the centre's security related researcher database, the update webpage, advertisement of events and overall communication.

Assistant (2014-2015), Dr Eve Hepburn (School of Social and Political Science). I assisted with the organisation of a series of careers events for final year Politics and International Relations MA honours students. I invited guest speakers from higher education, private, public and third sector.

From autumn 2015, I convened and hosted the series of events (see above course convening and co-convening).

Report and summary writing

As Rapporteur, I attended and wrote summaries of the presentations and discussions at the Summer School on Inclusive Political Settlements: Theory and Practice of Transforming Conflict of the Political Settlements Research Programme, June 20-22, 2016, and the Summer School on Political Violence organised by Dr Mathias Thaler (School of Social and Political Science) and Dr Niall Whelehan (School of History, Classics and Archaeology), June 24-26, 2015.

Student-facing responsibilities

Exam invigilator for students with special arrangements,  April/May 2015, August 2015 , December 2015, and April/May 2016.

Please contact me for information about current and past non-University of Edinburgh work experience.

Funding and awards

The PhD was self-funded, mostly through the work listed above and savings from previous employment. However, I also received a number competitive and non-competitive grants to support me during various stages of the PhD:

  • College Arts Humanities and Social Sciences PhD Submission Scholarship (2017)
  • Moray Endowment Fund Award for fieldwork (2016-2017)
  • Graduate School Research Support Fund for fieldwork (2016-2017)
  • Graduate School Research Support Fund for conferences (2x in 2016)
  • ISA travel grant (2016)

Conferences and publications

Academic, upcoming:

September 2018: 'Ideas, Institutions, Practices: How to Study Political Parties and Foreign Policy?' Co-organiser of and presenter at EISA Early Career Researchers Workshop in Prague, workshop conception and organisation with Louis-Simon Boileau and Valerio Vignoli.

June 2018: 'Populist Parties and Foreign Policy: Radically Different National Role Conceptions?' Paper prepared for the EWIS Workshop in Groningen (WS F - Populism and Foreign Policy: Conceptual and empirical advances)


'Roles and Responsibilies: A Role Theorecal Discussion of the  Concept of Responsibility in Foreign Policy.' (panel: The Attribution of Responsibility: Accountability and Diffusion of Responsibility in Global Politics), April 5, 2018, ISA Annual Convention in San Francisco.

'Roundtable on Modern Conflict' panelist, January 31, 2017, Centre for the Study of Modern Conflict, School of History, Edinburgh.

‘The Politics of Intervention - Parties and the Foreign Policy of the Use of Force: a Question of Responsibility?’, June 24, 2016, CEEISA Conference, Ljubljana.

‘Political Parties’ Narratives of Responsibility Roles in the Foreign Policy of Intervention’, June 15, 2016 BISA Conference, Edinburgh.

‘Political Parties: National Role Conceptions and Narratives of Intervention in Foreign Policy’, March 18, 2016, ISA Annual Convention, Atlanta.

‘Political Parties and Humanitarian Intervention: a Question of Responsibility?’, May 28-29, 2015, Graduate Conference in International Political Theory, University of St Andrews.

Policy and review papers, briefs and reports

Bell, C., Matzner, S. and O’Rourke, C., A Chronology of Colombian Peace Processes and Peace Agreements (2015) briefing paper.

Jarman, N. and Matzner S., Political Parties and Hate Crime, a Review Paper, (2012) Institute for Conflict Research, Belfast.

Book chapters

Matzner S. ‚Kultur und Kunst, Bildung und Jugend’ in Österreich im Europarat 1956-2006 Bilanz einer 50-jährigen Mitgliedschaft, Ed. Waldemar Hummer, Böhlau Verlag Wien, 2007, pp. 771.


Matzner G. and Matzner S. ‘Kein Ende von Geschichte’ (on Scotland) in Zeitschrift International, Vol. IV/2014.

Matzner G. and Matzner S. ‚Unterhauswahlen - und was nun?‘ (on the UK)  in Zeitschrift International Vol. II/2015.

Blog articles

Political Settlement Research Programme, Inclusive Political Settlements: Theory and Practice of Transforming Conflict, September 2016 (Day 1 contributor).

Whelehan N. and Thaler, M., Report on the 2015 Edinburgh Summer School on Political Violence, December 2015 (Day 2 contributor).

Matzner, S. ‚Linke Politik: veraltet, unglaubwürdig und unwählbar? Der Fall der britischen Labour Party.‘ on, August 2015.

Matzner S. ‚Das Referendum zur Schottischen Unabhängigkeit – Eindrücke.‘ on, November 2014.

Matzner S. ‚Die Öffnung der Schleusen.‘ on, January 2013, also on the website of the Bund Sozialistischer AkademikerInnen, Intellektueller & KünstlerInnen.


  • German: native speaker
  • French: fluent
  • English: fluent
  • Spanish: intermediate
  • Arabic: advanced beginner

Voluntary activities 2014-2017

Research groups and network memberships