Alumni Services

A political education

What do you have to do to succeed in Scottish politics? Judging by current key figures, studying at the University of Edinburgh is a good place to start.

Scottish Parliament

From Deputy First Minister John Swinney, to Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, an Edinburgh University education has provided the academic and intellectual foundations for a number of today’s most influential figures in Scottish politics.

Destined for politics

There is no pre-defined route, no single subject that guarantees a career at Holyrood but it is nevertheless interesting to note that both the SNP’s John Swinney and Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for Orkney, Liam McArthur, both studied politics, graduating in 1986 and 1990 respectively.

The new deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Kezia Dugdale also studied at the University’s School of Social and Political Science, graduating with an MSc in policy studies in 2006.

Different strokes

Studying politics is not, however, the only way that Edinburgh can prepare you for a life in the public policy spotlight.

Ruth Davison graduated with an MA in english before working as a presenter, news journalist and documentary maker before moving into politics.

Maggie Chapman, Co-Convener of the Scottish Green Party, combines her work as Councillor for Leith Walk ward with that of geography lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University. Both roles draw on skills and knowledge gained whilst studying for a BSc in zoology and, more recently, a PhD in environmental ethics.

Public policy

There are lots of routes into politics but there is also recognition that the University has a role to play in training the next generation of leaders in public and international affairs. With this in mind, 2011 saw the launch of the Academy of Government.

The Academy brings together faculty from a number of schools within the University - including the School of Social and Political Science, the Business School, the School of Economics, the Moray House School of Education, and the School of Law - to deliver professional education and to collaborate on innovative research in the area of public policy.

The Academy fuses the best of Edinburgh's traditional strengths and Enlightenment values with interdisciplinary and practical ways of solving the challenges confronting public policy at local, national, and global levels.

Professor Charlie JeffreySenior Vice Principal and Founding Director of the Academy