Experts inform EU vote debate

Leading academics from the University are shedding light on Britain’s EU referendum debate.

Experts are tracking social media, posting analysis online and publishing guides that offer an impartial interpretation of events. They have also created an online course.

United Kingdom and European Union flags

What does social media say?

The Imagine Europe project is using cutting-edge research techniques – developed by the University’s School of Informatics – to gauge public opinion.

The project is exploring how people are using social media to debate the UK's relationship with the EU in the run-up to the vote on 23 June.

Researchers from the University’s Neuropolitics Research Lab have been tracking Twitter to gain a different perspective from the opinion polls.

By monitoring the use of hashtags and the location of tweets, the daily data updates provide a real-time insight into how Twitter is being used to voice opinion about the upcoming referendum.

Our aim is to find out how well Twitter reflects wider public debate. It has been interesting to see the relative disconnect between what is happening on Twitter and what the polls are saying. No doubt, it will get even more interesting as we approach the vote.

Clare LlewellynResearch Fellow, NRLabs Neuropolitics Research

Impartial information

European Futures is a blog designed to provoke thought and debate on the issues facing Europe and provide impartial information for the public ahead of the referendum.

Written by academics from the University’s Europa Institute and beyond the University, it features commentary, analysis and insight on European affairs.

The blog has recently covered such topics as the UK’s alternatives to EU membership, how dependent is the UK’s economy on the EU, and what an exit from the EU mean for immigration into the UK.

The European Futures platform offers balanced and informed analysis of important EU-related developments in an accessible format. It has quickly become an important go-to site for journalists, policy-makers and the public aiming to keep abreast of the EU referendum debate.

Professor Laura CramDirector NRLabs Neuropolitics Research

Analysis and free e-book

The University-based Centre on Constitutional Change (CCC) is also creating a series of articles on the referendum. It has recently worked with The Hunter Foundation and the David Hume Institute to publish Britain Decides, a free e-book for voters.

Britain Decides is co-edited by the University’s Senior Vice Principal and CCC fellow Charlie Jeffery. It provides facts and impartial analysis on a range of issues.

The Centre is collaborating with the Scottish Youth Parliament to produce a series of infographics to help inform young people in the lead-up to the vote.

Study the referendum

The EU referendum is also the focus of a free online course.

Towards Brexit? The UK’s EU Referendum is a three-week course the explores the issues surrounding the vote.

Areas covered includes how the vote came about, the key policies at stake, public opinion towards the EU and the possible alternatives to EU membership.

The final week of the course will examine the result of the vote and analyse what the decision might mean for Britain and the rest of Europe.

The course, which began on June 13, is the latest in a series of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by the University in conjunction with FutureLearn.

The UK in a Changing Europe

The University is taking part in the wider academic debate through the UK-wide research initiative, The UK in a Changing Europe.

The programme is funding rigorous, high-quality and independent research at the University into the complex and ever-changing relationship between the UK and the European Union.

It is tailored to be easily accessible to policy makers, businesses, journalists, civic organisations, educational institutions and the general public who are interested in the UK’s relationship with the EU.