Tag Archives: University of Stirling

We are recruiting a Senior Lecturer/ Associate Professor in International Politics at the University of Stirling

The details are here, and they include this discussion of further particulars:

We seek to appoint a Senior Lecturer or Associate Professor (grade 9) in international politics with an emphasis on the politics and policy of the European Union. International Politics constitutes a core element of both our successful Masters Programme in International Conflict and Cooperation (ICC), our BA programmes in Politics and International Politics, and our professional doctorate in diplomacy. The appointee will contribute to both doctoral, Masters and undergraduate provisions and to our Centre for Policy, Conflict and Co-Operation Research. An ability to deliver the introductory module Introduction to International Politics (POLU9X3) at undergraduate level is essential. The appointee will also play a key role in delivering our ICC Masters and Doctor of Diplomacy programmes. A taught specialism in fields such as European Union politics and policymaking (preferably in the context of international politics), EU in the context of international organisations, and EU public policy – as well as its intersection with concepts such as gender, sexuality, and race – would be particularly welcome. As well as making a significant contribution to our Masters and undergraduate programmes, the appointee would be expected to pursue a programme of research, including research outputs and funding applications, to undertake postgraduate research supervision relevant to their expertise and to undertake administrative duties as prescribed by the Head of Division.

Why do we make reference to ‘gender, sexuality, and race’ in the FPs?

6 of our 8 permanent lecturers are men and 8 are white. We are not interested in simply reinforcing the imbalances that are already there. So, we worded the ‘further particulars’ to make sure that people know we have realistic hopes of producing a more diverse and gender-balanced short list. Usually, job adverts will have a pro-forma statement about equalities, but we are trying to go one step further to signal – albeit with rather subtle cues – that we have thought about this issue a bit more; that we’d like to expand our networks and the ways in which our staff approach the study of politics. We are trying to make sure that our current set up does not put off women or people of colour from applying, recruiting from a subject pool in which there is (I think) a relatively good gender balance, and signaling support for research topics that might help expand our current offering.

The more general advice

I am your pre-interview contact point and recommend that you get in touch with me before you apply. In the meantime, here are some tips on the application and interview processes.

The application process:

  • At this stage, the main documents are the CV and the cover letter.
  • You should keep the cover letter short to show your skills at concise writing. Focus on what you can offer the Division specifically, given the nature of our call and further particulars.
  • Shortlisted candidates at this level will almost certainly be established lecturers with a strong record on publications, income, and leadership – so what makes you stand out? Note that you will have the chance to play an important part of a group which is small enough (about 9 in Politics, as part of a larger Division) to act collectively – to, for example, influence its research direction (as a group, we hold 6 x 90 minute research workshops per year for that purpose).
  • Focus on what you have already done when discussing what you will promise to do over the next five years. Those plans seem more realistic if there is already some sort of track record.
  • We take teaching very seriously. Within our division, we plan an overall curriculum together, discuss regularly if it is working, and come to agreements about how to teach and assess work. We pride ourselves on being a small and friendly bunch of people, open to regular student contact and, for example, committed to meaningful and regular feedback. You might think about how you would contribute in that context. In particular, you should think about how you would deliver large undergraduate courses (in which you may only be an expert on some of the material) as well as the smaller, more specialist and advanced, courses closer to your expertise.

The interview process

By the interview stage, you should almost certainly have a conversation with me to make sure that you are well prepared. For example, here are the things that you really should know at that stage:

  1. The teaching and research specialisms of the division and their links to cross-divisional research.
  2. The kinds of courses that the division would expect you to teach.
  3. Perhaps most importantly, you need to be able to articulate why you want to come and work at Stirling.‘Why Stirling?’ or ‘Why this division?’ is usually the first question in an interview, so you should think about it in advance. We recommend doing some research on Stirling and the division/ faculty, to show in some detail that you have a considered reply (beyond ‘it is a beautiful campus’). We will see through a generic response in a heartbeat and, since it is the first question, your answer will set the tone for the rest of the interview. You might check, for example, who you might share interests with in the Division, and how you might  develop links beyond the division (for example, the Centre for Gender & Feminist Studies in our school) or faculty (such as the Faculty of Social Sciences) – since this is likely to be a featured question too.
  4. Then you might think about what you would bring to the University in a wider sense, such as through well-established (domestic and international) links with other scholars in academic networks.
  5. Further, since ‘impact’ is of rising importance, you might discuss your links with people and organisations outside of the University, and how you have pursued meaningful engagement with the public or practitioners to maximise the wider contribution of your research.

The presentation plus interview format

  1. In our system there tend to be presentations to divisional (and other interested) staff in the morning, with interviews in the afternoon. The usual expectation is that if you can’t make the date, you can’t get the job (although we can make accommodations to help you apply).
  2. We recommend keeping the presentation compact, to show that you can present complex information in a concise and clear way. Presentations are usually a mix of what you do in research and what you will contribute in a wider sense to the University.
  3. The interview panel varies according to the seniority of the role. For senior lecturers, the panel will have five members: one subject specialist from the Division, one other member of the Faculty (not necessarily from our division), the Head of Faculty of Arts and Humanities, a senior manager of the University (in the chair), and a senior academic in another Faculty (by the time of interview you should know what these terms mean at Stirling).
  • So, note that 1 member will be a subject specialist (in Politics). This means that (at the very least) you need to describe your success in a way that a wider audience will appreciate (for example, you would have to explain the significance of a single-author article in the APSR!). It sounds daunting, but we are a friendly bunch and want you to do well. You might struggle to retain all of our names (nerves), so focus on the types of question we ask – for example, the general question to get you started will be from the senior manager, and the research question from the divisional representative. There will be 4 men and 1 woman on the panel.




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Gift Giving

I suppose that gift giving looks simple enough, but I’ve received enough gifts from Japanese colleagues (and seen them exchange gifts with each other in a particular way) to know that there is a system to it. For example, you might give the best gift to the most senior person in an organisation, then other gifts to key members of staff. I’m a poor gift giver at the best of times, so I played it safe on my recent trip to the National Diet Library by asking who, how and when? Even then, I didn’t get it quite right. Still, we look quite happy, don’t we?

Mr Otaki, the National Diet Library ‘Librarian’ (the head of this organisation, which is like the House of Commons Library combined with the British Library, or modelled on the Library of Congress) got a University of Stirling tie:


Mr Ikemoto, the Deputy Librarian got a fancy pen (not pictured, because I messed up the presentation). Mr Amino, the Director General of the Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, also got a fancy pen


Then, the leader of the project and ‘Senior Specialist’ Mr Yoshimoto, sub-leader and ‘Specialist’ Mr Kato, and Senior Researcher Mr Yamaguchi all got fancy pens:


Everyone else did a great job of looking appreciative when I brought some Scottish shortbread – including Mr Tanaka (Director, Public Administration and Judicial Affairs Division) and Ms Matsuda (Researcher, Public Administration and Judicial Affairs Division), who took me on a tour round the National Diet (plus Mr Ashida, Ms Hagiwara and Ms Nishikawa, in the penultimate and very bottom pictures, who coordinated some of the events, showed me round the library and helped interpret some discussions) :

2013-11-25 14.53.50

Of course, as it turns out, they gave me much better gifts – and senior staff themselves paid for me to go sightseeing, at the end of the seminars, with Ms Matsuda and Ms Uehara (Researcher, Parliamentary Documents and Official Publications Division) – apologies for the picture, taken (at the base of the Tokyo Skytree) by me at arms length:

2013-11-28 15.45.33

My fancy tie/ pens ended up looking a bit second-best.  Still, we look quite happy, don’t we?  More importantly, the welcome that I got was inspirational. This trip has inspired me to begin to learn Japanese and to try to study Japan in much more detail. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point of being able to present complex ideas without an interpreter (speaking into my ear, at three different sessions, below), but I’d like to think that, the next time I visit Tokyo, I can maintain a basic conversation with the great people I met in Tokyo.


At the very least, I’d like to be able to say, ‘my flash isn’t working, but I think it still looks good’:

2013-11-26 21.22.05

See also: What Can Japan Learn from Devolution in the UK?

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Master in Public Policy (MPP) at the University of Stirling

Here is the extra marketing information to go with this survey. We’ll have a glossy leaflet out there in no time:

A new degree which applies the rigour of academic research to real world policy problems

Why Should You Study for an MPP?

The MPP is an advanced qualification in research and policy analysis. Studying for an MPP allows you to develop the conceptual, analytical and practical skills required to flourish in the policymaking world. It prepares you for a career in the public sector or in sectors that make a contribution to the development or delivery of public policy (such as non-profit or professional bodies).  You can also use it as a springboard for further postgraduate research. The MPP combines core modules in policy and policymaking with a suite of modules in social research and policy-relevant disciplines. If you want to use the degree to focus on research (for example, to pursue a PhD) you can take five modules in applied social research. If you want to pursue an interest in other policy-relevant disciplines, you can combine a focus on policy and research with module options in areas such as law, economics, behavioural science, gender studies, social marketing, energy, environmental and international politics. The programme is designed to meet your specific requirements. The norm in the core modules is small group teaching in weekly seminars – to help produce a group identity and a collegiate approach to your studies.  You complete the course by completing eight taught modules, then producing a dissertation which applies intellectual rigour to a real world policy problem and speaks to a policymaker audience.

Applied Research Opportunities

The MPP gives you the opportunity to apply your research to real world problems. We have excellent links with a range of organisations in the public, third and private sectors. When you begin your course, we will discuss how you want to make use of them. If you seek as many practitioner links as possible, we will explore how to apply your studies and coursework to a range of problems identified by those organisations – and arrange, in negotiations with organisations, how best to use your developing skills. You may also be taking the MPP to pursue a more ‘traditional’ academic path, with the knowledge that academic ‘impact’ is a key part of a postgraduate degree. We will discuss how best to balance the theoretical, empirical and practical aspects of your study.

Programme Overview

The programme (of 180 credits) combines core modules on policy theory and practice with a suite of modules in social research and policy-relevant disciplines. The norm is to maintain a meaningful level of contact between students engaged in the MPP and a small cohort of staff (teaching core and common ASR modules), but with the flexibility to take your own path. Core modules are delivered on the same day and there is a high degree of flexibility over optional modules to allow both full-time and part-time students to work around other commitments.

Core modules (45 credits) focus on multi-level policymaking, identifying the responsibilities and policies of local, devolved, national and international decision-makers. We identify the concepts, models and theories used to study policy and policymaking. We compare theories in political science with a range of policy-relevant disciplines (including economics, communication, psychology, management and social marketing). We combine theory and practice by inviting a range of policy actors to give guest seminars as an integral part of the core modules.

Research modules. You can choose up to five 15-credit modules in applied social research (ASR), including qualitative and quantitative analysis, research design and the philosophy of science. If appropriate, you can also choose to replace some ASR modules with research methods modules in your chosen subject – such as the MSc Gender Studies module ‘Feminist Research’ which is a prerequisite for its Research Placement module.

Policy relevant modules. You can choose two 15-credit modules in law, economics, behavioural science, social marketing, gender studies, energy, environmental or international politics.

Dissertation. You complete the course by producing a 60-credit dissertation (around 10000 words) which applies intellectual rigour to a real world policy problem. You will have the option to pursue a placement with a relevant organisation to allow you to tailor your research to a policymaker or policy influencer audience.

Staff: The Director for the MPP is Paul Cairney, Professor of Politics and Public Policy in the Division of History and Politics, School of Arts and Humanities. Paul will deliver the majority of the core module content and oversee the completion of your dissertation (and, if appropriate, as the first supervisor). He will work closely with Richard Simmons, the director of the School of Arts and Social Science’s applied social research programme.

Five reasons why you should choose the MPP at Stirling

1.You will be taught by experienced and committed staff, teaching in a field they are passionate about. All contributing staff are engaged in research at the forefront of their disciplines, including Professor Cairney, who is currently funded by the ESRC to research the Scottish Government’s policymaking capacity.

2. You will develop a range of research skills that enhance further study and employability.

3. You will engage with debates from a wide variety of different disciplines.

4. You will have the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills in real world settings.

5. You will enjoy studying on one of the most beautiful campuses in Europe.

Fees and Funding

Details of tuition fees can be found at: http://www.stir.ac.uk/postgraduate/financial-information/tuition-fees/. A variety of scholarships and bursaries may be available in any given year, including scholarships in the School of Arts and Humanities. You can find out more about possible sources of funding here: http://www.stir.ac.uk/postgraduate/financial-information/scholarships/

Entrance Requirements

Normally an upper second class Honours degree, or equivalent qualification from a university recognised by the University of Stirling. Degrees can be in any relevant discipline. If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in any individual test.

To find out more about this programme please contact:

Professor Paul Cairney (Director) p.a.cairney@stir.ac.uk

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Scottish Independence: How and Should You Vote?

Modern Studies Day, University of Stirling, 2013

If you are a Modern Studies student in Scotland, the independence referendum presents an unusual opportunity to take part in the very thing you are studying. You can look into the background of the referendum and the main issues in the debate and then use that information to make a choice. This is rare. The added bonus is that you can vote if you are under 18 (and at least 16). This is also a rare opportunity. In that context, three main questions arise: should you vote; should you be allowed to vote; and, what should you consider when you vote?

Should You Vote?


Should you be allowed to vote?

The debate about voting from 16, rather than 18, does not cause fights to break out in pubs or supermarkets, or even come up very often in polite conversation – but it can often seem like a polarised discussion. The issue became party political in Scotland (briefly) because the vote-at-16 proposal came primarily from the SNP Government, prompting some to wonder aloud if the measure was being used to boost the Yes-to-independence vote. However, the evidence seems to suggest that 16-18 year olds are no more likely to vote for independence than (many) older people; the under 18 population looks likely to produce a No vote (you can track these polls on the website run by John Curtice – What Scotland Thinks). Further, this move has since been proposed by other major figures, such as UK Labour’s leader Ed Miliband (calling for 16 year olds to have the vote in UK General Elections).

The handy thing about this kind of polarised discussion is that it is based on (albeit well-reasoned) simple assertion on both sides. Some of the arguments are set out in a Democratic Audit post – and I summarise them below*:

On the one side is the argument that people are not knowledgeable or mature enough to make important decisions at that age.

On the other side is the argument that voting is a fundamental human right.

On this basis, the debate revolves around making these claims consistent with this sort of evidence:

  • The age of maturity. People can make other major decisions (such as join the army) and do important things (such as pay tax) when they are 16, so giving them the right and responsibility to vote is consistent with their other rights and responsibilities. However, in many cases, under-18s need parental permission to make major life choices (although in Scotland you can marry at 16) and tend not to pay meaningful amounts of tax at that age. Further, 18 seems like the major symbol of maturity in this regard – voting at 18 may be the ‘international norm’, and recent decisions by the UK and Scottish Governments (such as raising the smoking age to 18, the same as the buying-alcohol and buying-fireworks age) suggest that they see 18 as the dawn of maturity. The choice of 18 may be both an arbitrary and consistent position supported by the majority of the public.
  • Many people are disengaged from politics. So, lowering the voting age may encourage a sense of citizenship at an earlier age. It may also encourage younger people to seek a political career, which might help reduce the average age of elected representatives. Or, in the absence of a fundamental shift in culture/ attitudes, in which voting and other political participation feels like a civic duty, it will just exacerbate low voting rates and low participation in politics. Much of the argument may relate to the symbolism of extending the franchise. Social groups given the vote for the first time (such as women, social classes and ethnic minorities) may have given it great symbolic value and felt compelled to use it wisely as a result – but would this feeling apply to young people in the same way? Can we identify the same demand for representation based on a widespread perception of injustice?

If I were you, I’d use this discussion to be quite chippy. When I voted, I’d feel like I was sticking it to someone making half-baked claims about my maturity. Ironically, it’s not a mature approach to life, but you can’t have everything. The half-handy thing for you is that you only have to worry about this issue when you study it, not when you engage in politics. Like anyone else, you can now vote even if you have no knowledge of Scottish politics and/ or no maturity whatsoever. The only major difference with over-18s is that, legally, they may vote after getting quite drunk in the pub and/or buying sparklers for the walk home.

What should you consider when you vote?

Let’s say you want to make a mature, well informed, decision. How would you decide? What should you consider? We can identify a range of issues, from the philosophical to the self-interested to the psychological.

The philosophical questions

What does independence mean? In the olden days, independence used to refer to the autonomy to direct all domestic affairs within a well-defined territory**, ***. Now, we are much less certain about where domestic affairs end and international affairs begin. For example, an independent Scotland would be subject to a wide range of binding international commitments, particularly if it was part of the European Union (examples include migration, agriculture, fishing, environmental policy, and rates of many taxes – all determined largely at the EU level). If it kept the pound, or joined the Euro, it would rely on a central bank (almost certainly outside of Scotland) to direct monetary policies (such as setting interest rates).  In an age of ‘globalisation’, it would also be unable to simply ‘direct all domestic affairs’ since national governments rely upon other governments to produce collective, international, policy solutions. They might even make domestic policy with one eye on their neighbours, since it is difficult to contain policy effects within one’s borders (think, for example, about the effect of independence on HE tuition fees – what would happen?). They are also influenced by major transnational corporations which tend to prioritise minimal government regulations and corporation taxes when they seek to invest in countries. These complications are currently a big feature of the independence debate (and we tend not to focus on the, often messier, complications to further devolution, largely because we don’t have to worry about that just now). People sometimes argue that we shouldn’t bother with independence (or ‘indy lite’), since we’ll just be keeping the Queen, the pound, the BBC and inheriting international commitments. Other people argue that it’s OK to vote for independence because we’ll be keeping the Queen, the pound, the BBC and inheriting international commitments.

Do I feel Scottish and/ or British? People often argue that the independence vote is not about national identity, partly because a reference to nationhood is portrayed, by many, as some sort of reflection of bigotry. One might be invited to picture a large, dirty-bearded, ginger man in a kilt telling the English to get out of their country (let’s call this ‘ethnic nationalism’).  A more subtle strategy is to brand people as ‘nationalist’ to mean parochial and extremist. The more acceptable form of nationalism is ‘civic’. It suggests that, if a clear nation exists, it should share a boundary with the state; if we feel that we live in the Scottish nation, we should have a Scottish Government to represent us. This is where national identify comes in – surveys have suggested for some time that Scots’ primary identity is Scottish rather than British (however, you ask the question – click on the table in this post).**** However, surveys also suggest that most people favour devolution (current or further devolution) over independence. They may feel Scottish and British, seeking some kind of governing autonomy and inclusion within a wider Union.

The self-interested question: would independence benefit me?

A lot of the debate surrounds the idea that independence will save or cost people money. I have seen reports that it will either make everyone at least £500 better or worse off (the Scottish Daily Mail, 26.3.12, wins the prize for hyperbole – ‘Breaking up Britain will cost every Scot £20,000’). I have heard one ridiculous suggestion that it will cost everyone £1 each. Each and every calculation seems a bit shifty to me, but they are based on things like: Scotland’s future share of North Sea oil revenue; its share of UK Government debts and assets; and, the effect of independence on economic behaviour (such as foreign investment in Scottish business, Scottish trade with other countries, and the Scottish Government’s credit rating). John Curtice’s research suggests that this economic question is often at the forefront of peoples’ minds when they think of independence. However, given that we don’t know the economic effect of independence, people are basing their preferences on their perception of an uncertain future. It presents one of those classic causality problems: perhaps you are more likely to vote for independence if you think you will benefit; or perhaps you are more likely to think you will benefit if you plan to vote for independence.

The psychological question: how should I deal with the uncertainty?

Much of the debate is driven by various attempts to worry or assure people about the uncertainty of Scottish independence. Questions include:

  • How would Scotland be a part of the European Union and a member of international organisations?
  • What would an independent Scotland look like? For example, might it become a high-tax-high-spending social democratic state (something we associated with some of the Nordic countries)? Or would it simply inherit the culture and institutions of the UK?
  • Could an independent Scotland have survived the economic crisis?
  • What currency would Scotland adopt?
  • How would independence affect Scotland’s security (from its defence, to its supply of energy and other resources)?

To a large extent, this uncertainty is a better resource for people arguing for the maintenance of the Union as a ‘security blanket’ (have a look at that term again – it’s loaded with double meaning, isn’t it?). However, we can also see the potential to exploit the uncertain future of the UK. This is key feature of the debate on the ‘bedroom tax’ and other welfare reforms – people may argue that only an independent Scotland would have the powers to maintain the welfare state as a ‘security blanket’.

So what can we conclude?

I reckon that, if you have read this far, you have already paid more attention, and given the issue more serious thought, than most people. If so, I wouldn’t worry about being mature enough to make the right decision.


*Please note that, if you were using this kind of material to produce coursework, you would give more credit to the individual authors, not just list the website.

** I lifted that phrase from a book I helped write. You shouldn’t do that – we frown upon that sort of thing when marking your essays.

***in fact, just to be safe, don’t use this blog post as a model for any sort of assessable writing. Especially all that ‘some people think’ nonsense – that’s just annoying.

**** ah, you might say, but what is Scottish? Do you have to be born and / or raised in Scotland? What if one or both of your parents or grandparents are Scottish? Is it enough to simply live in Scotland to be Scottish? All I can offer is a hopefully-dull, pragmatic answer: the issue of Scottish independence may not have arisen without these self-identified perceptions of Scottishness (even though there are other reasons to want more local government – for example, it might be more flexible and responsive to local demands, or you might – and maybe 7% of people living in Scotland would describe themselves as English). However, a shift away from ethnic to civic nationalism is reflected in the referendum rules: if you live in Scotland, and are registered to vote, you can vote. You do not need to have been born or raised in Scotland. Instead, by living in Scotland, you have a stake in its governing arrangements. Then I’ll offer you this post from Jo Shaw.

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