Professor Mark Phythian

Prof Mark Phythian

Professor of Politics

  • Feedback and Support Times (Semester 2, 2020-21): By appointment only
  • Dissertation Hour (Semester 2, 2020-21): By appointment only

Personal details

  • BA (CNAA), MA, PhD (Liverpool), FAcSS

Professor Mark Phythian is the author or editor of some fifteen books on intelligence and security topics, as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters. In 2018 the Financial Times described him as “among the sharpest of security scholars”. Recent books include: Principled Spying: The Ethics of Secret Intelligence, co-authored with Sir David Omand (Oxford University Press/Georgetown University Press, 2018) - a finalist for the Association of Former Intelligence Officers "Best Intelligence History of 2018” book award; a 3rd edition of Intelligence in an Insecure World, co-authored with Peter Gill (Polity Press, 2018); Ideologies of American Foreign Policy, co-authored with John Callaghan & Brendon O’Connor (Routledge 2019); and The Iraq War and Democratic Governance: Britain and Australia Go to War, co-authored with Judith Betts (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), which was included in a 2020 listing of the ‘100 Best Australian History and Politics Books’.

He is the lead editor of the journal Intelligence and National Security, one of the editors of the Georgetown University Press book series, Georgetown Studies in the History of Intelligence, and an editorial board member of several academic journals. In 2012 he was made a Fellow (at the time ‘Academician’) of the UK Academy of Social Sciences in recognition of his work in developing social science approaches to the study of intelligence.
In 2020 he received the ISA Intelligence Studies Section Distinguished Scholar Award, making him only the 10th recipient of the award since it was first made in 2000.

Current Research

Mark is currently working on two projects; one involves a study of British state surveillance of Communists and suspected Communists in the period from approximately 1918-1954, and the other is focused on developing a political theory of national security intelligence.

Selected Earlier Publications


Mark Phythian - Understanding the Intelligence Cycle book cover

Understanding the Intelligence Cycle (Abingdon, Routledge, 2013, editor)

Intelligence in an Insecure World

Intelligence in an  Insecure World (2nd ed; Cambridge, Polity, 2012, with with Peter Gill)

War, Ethics and Justice

War, Ethics and Justice: New Perspectives on a Post-9/11 World, London, Routledge, 2011, Annika Bergman-Rosamond & Mark Phythian (eds.), (ISBN: 978-0-415-55234-9 [hbk]/978-0-203-86852-2 [ebk]), pp.190.

Commissions of Inquiry and National Security

Commissions of Inquiry and National Security: Comparative Approaches, Stuart Farson & Mark Phythian (eds.), Westport, CT, Praeger Security International, 2011.

PSI Handbook 1

PSI Handbook of Global Security and Intelligence: National Approaches: Volume 1 - The Americas and Asia (edited with S. Farson, P. Gill & S. Shpiro), Westport, CT, Praeger Security International, 2008 (Hardback: ISBN: 978-0-275-99207-1)

PSI Handbook 2

PSI Handbook of Global Security and Intelligence: National Approaches: Volume 2 - Europe, the Middle East and South Africa (edited with S. Farson, P. Gill & S. Shpiro), Westport, CT, Praeger Security International, 2008 (Hardback: ISBN: 978-0-275-99208-8). pp. x + 677.

Intelligence Theory

Intelligence Theory: Key Questions and Debates (edited with P. Gill & S. Marrin), London, Routledge, 2008 (Hardback & Softback: ISBN: 978-0-415-42947-1/978-0415553377). pp. xiii + 235.

Intelligence and National Security

Intelligence and National Security Policymaking on Iraq: British and American Perspectives (edited with J. P. Pfiffner), Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2008 (Hardback & Softback: ISBN: 978-0-7190-7746-3/978-0-7190-7747-0); College Station, Texas A & M University Press, 2008 (Hardback & Softback: ISBN: 978-1-60344-067-7/978-1-60344-093-6). pp. xiii + 296.

Intelligence, Security and Policing Post 9/11

Intelligence, Security and Policing Post-9/11: The UK's Response to the War on Terror (edited with J. Moran), Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008 (Hardback: ISBN: 978-0-230-55191-6). pp. xii + 260.

The Labour Party, War and International Relations 1945-2006

The Labour Party, War and International Relations 1945-2006 (London, Routledge, 2007)

MP - Intelligence in an Insecure World 1st edition book cover

Intelligence in an Insecure World (Cambridge, Polity, 2006, with Peter Gill)

The Politics of British Arms Sale since 1964

The Politics of British Arms Sales Since 1964 (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2000)

Under the Counter and Over the Border

Under the Counter and Over the Border: Aspects of the Contemporary Trade in Illicit Arms (Netherlands, Kluwer Academic, 2000, editor).

Arming Iraq

Arming Iraq (Boston, Northeastern University Press, 1996)

Recent journal articles and book chapters

'Intelligence Analysis Today and Tomorrow’, Security Challenges, Vol.5 No.1, Summer 2009, pp.69-85.

‘The British Intelligence Services’, in A. Daun & T. Jaeger (eds.), Geheimdienste in Europa: Transformation, Kooperation und Kontrolle [Intelligence in Europe: Transformation, Cooperation and Control], (VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden, 2009), pp.13-34.

‘The Politics of the Contemporary Trade in Major Conventional Weapons’, in, John Buckley & George Kassimeris (eds.), Ashgate Research Companion to Modern Warfare (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2010), pp.165-182.

'A Very British Institution’: The Intelligence and Security Committee and Intelligence Accountability in the United Kingdom’, in Loch K. Johnson (ed.), Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence (New York, Oxford University Press, 2010), pp.699-718.

‘From Asset to Liability: Blair, Brown and the ‘Special Relationship’’, in Oliver Daddow & Jamie Gaskarth (eds.), British Foreign Policy: The New Labour Years (London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp.188-204.
‘Political Interference in the Intelligence Process: The Case of Iraqi WMD’, in Robert

Dover & Michael S. Goodman (eds.), Learning from the Secret Past: Cases in British Intelligence History (Washington, DC, Georgetown University Press, 2011), pp.101-32.

‘Lost Over Libya: The Strategic Defence and Security Review – An Obituary’, Defence Studies, Vol.11 No. 3, 2011, pp.420-44 (with Robert Dover).

The Politics of the Strategic Defence and Security Review: Centralisation and Cuts’, The Political Quarterly, Vol.83 No.1, 2012, pp.163-71 (with Robert Dover).

‘Policing Uncertainty: Intelligence, Security and Risk’, Intelligence and National Security, Vol.27 No.2, 2012, pp.187-205.

‘Ethics and Intelligence: A Debate’, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, Vol.26 No.1, 2013, pp.38-63 (with Sir David Omand).
‘The Ethics-Intelligence Tension: Sources and Bypassing Strategies’, International Journal of Intelligence Ethics, Vol.3 No.2 Fall/Winter 2012, pp.12-36.

‘State Surveillance and Communist Lives: Rose Cohen and the Early British Communist Milieu’, (with J. Callaghan), Journal of Intelligence History, Vol.12 No.2 2013, pp.134-55.

‘Between Covert and Overt Action: The Obama Administration’s Use of Armed Drones as a Tool of Counterterrorism Policy ’, Contemporary Issues in Law, Vol.12 No.4, 2013, pp.283-310.

‘Cultures of National Intelligence’, in Robert Dover, Michael Goodman & Claudia Hillebrand (eds.), Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies (Abingdon, Routledge, 2013), pp.33-41

INS Special Forum: ‘Implications of the Snowden Leaks’ (contributor), Intelligence and National Security, Vol.29 No.6 2014, pp.1-18.

‘The British Experience with Intelligence Accountability: The First Twenty Years’, in Loch K. Johnson (ed.) Essentials of Strategic Intelligence (Santa Barbara, CA, Praeger Security International, 2015), pp.447-69.

‘Intellectuals of the Left and the Atomic Dilemma in the Age of the US Atomic Monopoly, 1945-1949’ (with J. Callaghan), Contemporary British History, online publication January 2015: DOI:10.1080/13619462.2014.987530


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