A native of Edinburgh, Professor Wylie graduated with a first class honours degree in Medieval and Modern History from Kings College London, where he won the Derby-Brize prize. He then moved to the University of Cambridge where he took an MPhil in International Relations (1990) and a PhD in International History (1994), followed by a Junior Research Fellowship at New Hall, and a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Centre of International Studies. He held positions at the Glasgow University, where he temporarily directed the Scottish Centre for War Studies, University College Dublin and held a visiting adjunct position at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies at Geneva.
The majority of Wylie's career was spent at the University of Nottingham. Between 2010 and 2014, he was seconded to the University's campus in Malaysia as head of the School of Politics, History and International Relations, and founding Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. During his last four years at Nottingham, he was Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for Global Engagement with responsibility for overseeing Nottingham’s activities in the Americas region.