Head and shoulders photo of Des McNulty

Des McNulty was instrumental to the establishment of Policy Scotland. He joined the University of Glasgow in 2012 to support knowledge exchange within the School of Social and Political Sciences, and was Deputy Director of Policy Scotland until October 2021. 

He was also Assistant Vice-Principal for Economic Development and Civic Engagement until October 2021 and Deputy Chair of the Glasgow Commission for Economic Growth.

The Policy Scotland policy domains he worked on included:


  • economic development, regeneration and inclusive growth
  • public policy and governance, including city deals, the Brexit process, resilience, policy development, monitoring and evaluation
  • collaboration with civic partners; the civic university.



Des McNulty was a sociologist who interrupted his teaching and research career to become a Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Clydebank and Milngavie constituency from 1999 to 2011. Some of his political roles included:


  • Convenor of the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee, 2001-2002
  • Deputy Minister for Social Justice, 2002-2003
  • Deputy Communities Minister, 2006 -2007.

He also held posts in the Labour shadow cabinet from 2008, including Shadow Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

Returning to academic life on joining the University of Glasgow, he became Dean for Public Policy and Knowledge Exchange in the College of Social Sciences before becoming Assistant Vice Principal. Along with Ken Gibb, he founded Policy Scotland in 2013 and was central to its evolution ever since. He also played key roles in the creation of the partnership between the College and Glasgow Centre for Population Health in the Social Justice Hub in Bridgeton and in the development of the Glasgow Riverside Innovation District. As Deputy Chair, he played an important support role to the Principal of the University who chairs the Glasgow Commission for Economic Growth which provides strategic advice to the eight Councils involved in the Glasgow City Deal and the Regional Economic Partnership.


Policy Scotland projects

The Scottish Economy – A ‘living book’ which brings together evidence and high quality research by experts on the Scottish economy in a politically neutral, accessible and non-technical way that can be updated online.






Blogs and publications