School of Politics and International Relations

Image of Ellen Watts

Ellen Watts

Assistant Professor in Politics & International Relations, Faculty of Social Sciences



I joined the School of Politics and International Relations as an Assistant Professor in September 2022. Prior to this I was a Fellow in Qualitative Research Methodology at the LSE, and a Teaching Fellow at Royal Holloway where I completed my PhD in 2019.

In the 2022-23 academic year I will be Deputy Senior Tutor for 1st year Undergraduates.

Expertise Summary

Political Communication

Cultural Politics

Qualitative Research Methods (particularly using documents and media sources)

Teaching Summary

In 2022-23 I will be teaching on:

POLI1014: Introduction to Comparative Politics

POLI1019: British Constitution in Crisis

POLI2009: British Party Politics

POLI2047: How Voters Decide

I am interested in discussions around how and where research methods training can be best delivered within the UG PIR curriculum, particularly in the integration of qualitative methods and interpretive research design. I have designed online exercises and resources for research methods textbooks and consulted with publishers.

Research Summary

I am interested in the many and varied intersections between politics and entertainment.

My research to date has focused on celebrity activism, with an emphasis on how celebrities make claims to represent citizens and causes and when these claims are recognised as legitimate. I am currently working on a project about the footballer Marcus Rashford's child poverty activism, which asks who he speaks for and what forms of authority he draws on to do so. This builds on my PhD thesis, which used case studies of celebrity activists to investigate how celebrity capital can be exchanged for political legitimacy.

I am also interested in questions of who has authority and how it is claimed, sustained, or challenged in political communication more broadly.

Recent Publications

Ph.D. supervision

I am interested in supervising students who want to work in the following areas:

Developing qualitative-interpretive approaches to the study of politics;

Research methods in the PIR curriculum;

Political Communication, particularly questions of representation;

Politics and popular culture/entertainment;

Future Research

I have an interest in political comedy and satire, particularly in how television satire deals with contentious issues of (national) identity and responds in real-time to crises. I am also interested in how satirists (attempt to) negotiate expectations of objectivity and impartiality. I would be interested in collaborations on this or closely related topics.

School of Politics and International Relations

Law and Social Sciences building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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