Personal profile

Educational background

  • Baccalaureate in Journalism and Communication, Fontys Hogeschool (Tilburg, The Netherlands)
  • MA in Politics and Communication in Europe, VU University (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • MRes in Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute (Florence, Italy)
  • PhD in Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute (Florence, Italy)


Teaching development

  • Teaching Skills Certificate (EUI)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)

Personal profile

Kaat Smets is Reader in Politics (Quantitative Methods) and co-investigator of the Marie Curie Doctoral Network "Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Politics of Adolescence & Democracy" (IP-PAD). Her research focuses on why people participate in politics and she is particularly interested in how patterns of political participation change over time. Since the political behaviour of young people seems to be most affected by new patterns of political participation that have emerged over the last decades, a lot of Kaat's research focuses on young people's politics. Kaat served as co-editor-in-chief of Electoral Studies from 2018 to 2023.

Kaat defended her doctoral dissertation in 2010 at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. She also hold a baccalaureate in Journalism and Communication from Fontys Hogeschool in Tilburg (The Netherlands), an MA in Communication and Politics in Europe from the VU University in Amsterdam and an MRes in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute. At Royal Holloway she teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses in political behaviour, public opinion and (quantitative) research methods. Kaat has held visiting positions at the University of Montréal, the University of Oxford and the University of Vienna. Before joining Royal Holloway in 2013 Kaat was affiliated to the Centre for the Study of Political Change (CIRCaP) at the University of Siena in Italy. 

Kaat's general research interests include political behaviour, political attitudes, elections, political sociology, comparative politics and research methods. More specifically her published work researches the age gap in voter turnout, generational differences in political behaviour, the development of political attitudes and political behaviour over the life span and, more recently, the micro-mechanisms of individual level attitude change in deliberative settings. In her work she often applies quantitative methods for longitudinal, hierarchical, and (quasi) experimental data to address substantial research
 questions. Kaat's research appears in international peer-reviewed journals such as Political BehaviorEuropean Journal of Political Research, European Union Politics, West European Politics, European Political Science Review, Electoral Studies, Parliamentary Affairs, Acta Politica and the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties.


Modules that I have taught or currently teach:



  • PR1000 – Researching Politics and International Relations: Methods, Techniques and Analysis
  • PR1600 – Introduction to Research Methods in Politics and International Relations
  • PR2000 – Researching Politics and International Relations: Analysis, Design and Practice
  • PR2540 – Political Behaviour
  • PR3967 – Social Diversity and Political Representation



  • PR5921 – Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Politics and International Relations
  • PR5923 – Introduction to Qualitative Methods in Politics and International Relations
  • PR5949 – Researching Politics and International Relations


Office hours



Supervision of PhD students

I am interested in the supervision of research projects that are related to political behaviour, elections, and public opinion. I particularly welcome proposals related to changing patterns of political behaviour, generational differences in political attitudes and behaviour, the development of patterns of political participation, and the empirical study of deliberative democracy.

If you interested in pursuing a PhD in any of these fields, contact me with a proposal that presents your research question and further aspects of your planned work. Please also send a complete CV.

Our PhD programme usually starts in September, with deadlines for application in January. Please allow for sufficient time to review and discuss your research proposal. You should contact me roughly 10-12 months before your intended start date. The admission process at the department also involves an interview. Details on the programme and formal entry requirements can be found on the departmental website.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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