Dr Nicola Smith

Dr Nicola Smith

Department of Political Science and International Studies
Senior Lecturer in Political Science

Contact details

Department of Political Science and International Studies
School of Government
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Nicola Smith is a political economist working on a variety of areas including the intersections between feminist political economy and queer theory; neoliberal discourses of globalization; and the global sex trade.

Feedback and office hours

You can book an appointment with Nicki during her office hours via the Doodle poll.


  • PhD Political Science (Birmingham)
  • MA Research Methods (Political Science) (Birmingham)


Nicola's research interests are diverse but the central thread that runs throughout her work is a preoccupation with global capitalism, neoliberal discourse, and social justice. Her current projects focus on queer and trans* sex work; the heteronormative politics of austerity; quantifying sex (with Sarah Kingston); the discursive construction of 'household waste' (with Angus Cameron and Dani Tepe); and the body in/and political economy (with Tiina Vaittinen).

Nicola is Director of the BA Programme in Political Science, Director of the BA Programme in Political Economy, and Director of the MA Programme in International Political Economy. She also serves on the Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) Ethics Committee, co-leads the University's Special Interest Group on assessment and feedback, and sits on the Steering Committee for the Birmingham Assessment Change Initiative. In 2013 Nicola received the Award for Excellence in Teaching and Supporting Student Learning for the College of Social Sciences and, along with 17 other colleagues from across the University, she was selected for the University’s pilot Emerging Leaders' Programme in 2013-14.

Nicola edits with Adrienne Roberts and Juanita Elias the book series on Global Political Economies of Gender and Sexuality for Rowman & Littlefield International, and is Associate Editor of Political Studies Review. She is on the steering group of the Sex Work Research Hub (SWRH) and (with Mary Laing) runs the SWRH blog. Nicola also runs the Feminist Academic Collective.



  • Theories of Global Politics (first year)
  • Problems in World Politics (final year)


Postgraduate supervision

I have co/supervised a number of PhD projects through to successful completion and am currently co/supervising the following research projects:

PhD projects

  • Shardia Briscoe-Palmer, Masculinity in the Caribbean
  • Thais Bessa, Forced Marriage & Conflict
  • Em Harvey, Queer, Trans* & Crip Theory
  • Christian Hernandez, Globalisation & Latin America 
  • Milly Morris, Self-Surveillance & Dieting
  • Hena Singh, Neo-Liberalism & Women's Rights in India

MRes projects

  • Rebecca Ferguson, LGBTQ+ Students' Experience in Higher Education

I welcome applications from potential PhD students in the following areas:

  • Gender & Sexuality
  • Queer & Trans* Politics
  • Crip Theory
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Biopolitics
  • Neoliberal Discourse & Governmentality
  • Commercial Sex


Research groups: Gender and Feminist Theory Research Group, International Political Economy

Research and academic interests

  • Global political economy
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Global ethics & social justice
  • Feminist, queer and trans* theory
  • Sexual labour

Current and recent projects

  • Closing the Loop: Bridging the Gap Between the Provision and Implementation of Feedback - Higher Education Academy-funded project (18 month grant, June 2013 to December 2014) with Helen Williams, Hardeep Basra and Bettina Renz (PI).
  • Queer Sexual Economies (book project)
  • Waste: Crisis, Austerity & Social Reproduction (book project, with Dani Tepe & Angus Cameron)

Other activities

Other professional appointments

  • 2016-present: External Examiner (Politics, UG programmes), University of Sheffield
  • 2015-present: Co-Convenor of the Sex Work Research Hub
  • 2013-present: External Examiner (International Relations, PG programmes), University of Bristol
  • 2011-15: External Examiner (Politics, UG programmes), Oxford Brookes University
  • 2009-12: Co-Convenor of the Centre for Sex Work Research and Policy (CSWRP) UK
  • 2006-present: Editorial Associate of the journal 'British Politics'
  • 2007-10: Co-Director (with Donna Lee) of the BISA Working Group on Small States
  • 2005-08: Membership Secretary of the Global Studies Association

Member of the British International Studies Association and the Political Studies Association; associate member of the Higher Education Academy.


Selected publications [see also https://bham.academia.edu/NicolaSmith for freely downloadable versions]:


M. Laing, K. Pilcher & N. Smith (eds) Queer Sex Work (Routledge), 2015.

Cameron, A., J. Dickinson & N. Smith (eds) Body/State (Routledge), 2013.

Widdows, H. & N. Smith (eds) Global Social Justice (Routledge), 2011.

Smith, N. Showcasing Globalisation? The Political Economy of the Irish Republic (Manchester University Press), 2005.

Journal Special Issues

Smith, N. & H. Williams (eds), Special Issue on Assessment & Feedback, European Political Science, forthcoming.

Smith, N. & D. Lee (eds), Special Section on The Body in International Political Economy, Global Society, 2015, 29.

Smith, N. & M. Laing (eds) Special Issue on LGBTQ Sex Work, Sexualities, 2012, 15:5.

Smith, N. & H. Hoffler (eds) Special Issue on Global Social Justice, Journal of Global Ethics, 2009, 5:2.

Lee, D. & N. Smith (eds) (2008) Special Issue on Small States in the International Political Economy, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 2008, 97:395.

Journal Articles

Cameron, A., N. Smith & D. Tepe, ‘Household Wastes: Disciplining the Family in the Name of Austerity,’ British Politics, forthcoming.

Williams, H., & N. Smith, 'Feedback: Critiquing Practice, Moving Forward,' European Political Science, forthcoming.

Smith, N. & H. Williams, 'Rethinking Assessment and Feedback,' European Political Science, forthcoming.

Smith, N. & D. Lee, ‘Corporeal Capitalism: The Body in International Political Economy’ Global Society, 2015, 29: 1, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13600826.2014.976608

Smith, N. & D. Lee, ‘What’s Queer About Political Science?’, British Journal of Politics & International Relations, 2015, 17:1 http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-856X.12037 [Runners-up for 2015 Best Article Prize]

Hay, C. & N. Smith, ‘The Story of a North-Sea Bubble: The Strange Demise of the Anglo-Liberal Growth Model in the UK and Ireland’, European Political Science Review, 2013, 5:3, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1755773912000185

Smith, N. ‘Body Issues: The Political Economy of Male Sex Work’, Sexualities, 2012, 15:5, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1363460712445983

Smith, N. & M. Laing, ‘Working Outside the (Hetero)Norm?  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Sex Work’, Sexualities, 2012, 15:5, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1363460712446270

Smith, N. ‘The International Political Economy of Commercial Sex’, Review of International Political Economy, 2011, 18:4, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09692291003762498

Lee, D. & N. Smith, ‘Small State Discourses in the International Political Economy’, Third World Quarterly, 2010, 31:7, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2010.518750   

Hay, C. & N. Smith, ‘How Do Policy-Makers Really Understand Globalisation?  The Internal Architecture of Anglophone Globalisation Discourse in Europe’, Public Administration, 2010, 88:4, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1755773912000185

Smith, N. & H. Hoffler, ‘Global Social Justice in Theory & Practice’, Journal of Global Ethics, 2009, 5:2, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17449620903110201

Smith, N. ‘Global Social Justice – A “Matter of Human Survival”: An Interview with Clare Short’, Journal of Global Ethics, 2009, 5:2, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17449620903110201  

Lee, D. & N. Smith, ‘The Political Economy of Small African States in the WTO’, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 2008, 97:395, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00358530801962071 [Selected as one of five ‘classic articles’ to celebrate the journal’s Centenary in 2010].

Bates, S. & N. Smith, ‘Understanding Change in Political Analysis: On the Need to Bring Space into Theoretical Positions and Empirical Analyses’, Political Studies Review, 2008, 6:2, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1478-9302.2008.00154.x   

Smith, N. & C. Hay, ‘Mapping the Political Discourse of Globalisation and European Integration in the UK and Ireland’, European Journal of Political Research, 2008, 47:3, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6765.2007.00728.x

Lee, D. & N. Smith, ‘Small States in the International Political Economy’, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 2008, 97:395, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2010.518750

Smith, N. ‘Mapping Processes of Policy Change in Contemporary European Political Economies: The Irish Case’, British Journal of Politics & International Relations, 2006, 8:4, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-856X.2006.00236.x

Hay, C., N. Smith & N. Watson, ‘Beyond Prospective Accountancy: Reassessing the Case for British Membership of the Single European Currency Comparatively’, British Journal of Politics & International Relations, 2006, 8:1, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-856X.2006.00225.x

Hay, C. and N. Smith, ‘Horses for Courses?  The Political Discourse of Globalisation and European Integration in the UK and Ireland’, West European Politics, 2005, 28:1, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0140238042000297116  

Smith, N., M. Pace & D. Lee, ‘Size Matters: Small States in International Relations’, International Studies Perspectives, 2005, 6:3, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1528-3577.2005.215_1.x

Smith, N. ‘Deconstructing “Globalisation” in Ireland’, Policy & Politics, 2004, 32:4, http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/0305573042009453

Smith, N. ‘The Irish Republic – “A Showpiece of Globalisation”?’, Politics, 2002, 22:3, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9256.00167

Book Chapters

Smith, N. ‘Queer Theory and Feminist Political Economy’ in J. Elias & A. Roberts, Handbook of Gender in International Political Economy (Edward Elgar), forthcoming.

Smith, N.  ‘(Dis)embodied Methodology in International Political Economy’ in J. Montgomerie (ed) Critical Methods in Political and Cultural Economy (Routledge), forthcoming.

Smith, N. ‘The Global Political Economy of Sex Work’ in J. Steans & D. Tepe (eds) Gender and International Relations Handbook (Edward Elgar), 2016.

Smith, N. 'Toward a Queer Political Economy of Crisis' in J. True & Aida Hozic (eds) Scandalous Economics: Gender and the Politics of Financial Crisis (Oxford University Press), 2016.

Smith, N. ‘Queer In/And Sexual Economies’ in M. Laing, K. Pilcher & N. Smith (eds), Queer Sex Work (Routledge), 2015.

Smith, N., M. Laing & K. Pilcher, ‘Being, Doing and Thinking “Queer” in Debates About Commercial Sex’ in M. Laing, K. Pilcher & N. Smith (eds), Queer Sex Work (Routledge), 2015.

Smith, N. ‘Corporeal Capitalism: Invisible Male Bodies in the Global Sexual Economy’ in A. Cameron, J. Dickinson and N. Smith (eds) Body/State (Routledge), 2013.

Cameron, A., J. Dickinson & N. Smith, ‘Bodies, States and Body-States’ in A. Cameron, J. Dickinson and N. Smith (eds) Body/State (Routledge), 2013.

Hay, C. & N. Smith, ‘The Resilience of Anglo-Liberalism in the Absence of Growth: The British and Irish Cases’ in V. Schmidt & M. Thatcher (eds), Resilient Liberalism in Europe’s Political Economy (Cambridge University Press), 2013.

Widdows, H. & N. Smith, ‘Global Social Justice: An Introduction’ in H. Widdows & N. Smith (eds) Global Social Justice (Routledge), 2011.

Widdows, H. & N. Smith ‘Global Social Justice: A Conclusion’ in H. Widdows & N. Smith (eds) Global Social Justice (Routledge), 2011.

Smith, N. ‘Examining Ideas Empirically: The Political Discourse of Globalization in Ireland’ in C. Hay & A. Gofas (eds) The Role of Ideas in Political Analysis: A Portrait of Contemporary Debates (Routledge), 2010.

Hay, H., J. Riihelainen, N. Smith & M. Watson, ‘Ireland: the Outlier Inside’ in K. Dyson (ed), The Euro at Ten: Europeanisation, Power and Convergence (Oxford University Press), 2008.

Marsh, D., N. Smith and N. Hothi, ‘Globalisation and the State’ in: Colin Hay, Michael Lister and David Marsh (eds) The State: Theories and Issues (Palgrave), 2005.


Smith, N. and S. Kingston (2015) ‘Policy-Relevant Report: Statistics on Sex Work in the UK,’ 7 October 2015, University of Birmingham and Lancaster University, http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-social-sciences/government-society/polsis/research/statistics-on-sex-work-in-the-uk.pdf

Other (selected)

Smith, N. ‘Sex Without Sexuality,’ ISQ Online, 11 June 2016, http://www.isanet.org/Publications/ISQ/Posts/ID/5240/Sex-Without-Sexuality

Pilcher, K., N. Smith and M. Laing, ‘Towards a Queer Political Economy of Sex Work’, E-IR, 18 August 2015, http://www.e-ir.info/2015/08/18/towards-a-queer-political-economy-of-sex-work/

Smith, N. ‘On Cis/Trans* Dichotomies’, QFemZine, 2015, 2:15 [in English and Finnish], also available at https://feministacademiccollective.com/2015/06/08/on-dichotomies-between-cis-and-trans/

Smith, N. ‘The Queerness of Political Science’, The Impact Blog, 11 July 2015, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2015/07/04/the-queerness-of-political-science-challenging-and-destabilizing-the-disciplines-boundaries/

Smith, N. ‘The Queer Politics of Equal Marriage’, Political Insight, 1 July 2015, https://www.psa.ac.uk/insight-plus/blog/queer-politics-equal-marriage

Smith, N. ‘(Dis)embodied Methodology in International Political Economy’, The Disorder of Things, 27 September 2013, http://thedisorderofthings.com/2013/09/27/disembodied-methodology-in-international-political-economy/

View all publications in research portal


  • Sex work
  • Queer & trans* politics
  • Anti-globalisation

Media experience

  • BBC Five Live (on male escorting in the UK)
  • The Voice of Russia (on students who sell sex)