Dr Kaat Smets

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

I joined the Department of Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London as a lecturer in September 2013. My research focuses on why people participate in politics and I am 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 my research focuses on young people's politics.

I defended my doctoral dissertation in 2010 at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. I 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 I teach undergraduate and postgraduate courses in political behaviour and (quantitative) research methods. Before joining Royal Holloway's PIR department I was affiliated to the Centre for the Study of Political Change (CIRCaP) at the University of Siena in Italy.

My general research interests include political behaviour, political attitudes, elections, political sociology, comparative politics and research methods. More specifically my 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 my work I often apply quantitative methods for longitudinal, hierarchical, and (quasi) experimental data to address substantial research
 questions. My work appears in international peer-reviewed journals such as Political BehaviorEuropean Journal of Political Research, European Union Politics, European Political Science Review, Electoral Studies, Parliamentary Affairs, Acta Politica and the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties.




  • PR1600 – Introduction to Research Methods in Politics and International Relations
  • PR2540 – Political Behaviour



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


Office hours

My office hours are on Mondays and Tuesdays from 2-3pm. 


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 around January/February. 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.

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