Professor Mark Phythian

Prof Mark Phythian


  • Office: Attenborough Tower 1011
  • Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2704
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  • Feedback and Support Times (Semester 1, 2019-20): Tuesdays 9-10am and Thursdays 10-11am

Personal details

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



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


My research has primarily been concerned with issues of international security, with a particular focus on intelligence and the potential for social science insights and approaches to improve understanding of issues relating to intelligence. In particular, I am interested in issues of accountability (including relating to commissions of inquiry), intelligence failure, the ethics of intelligence, and the debate around the relationship between intelligence and decision-making in relation to the US and UK decisions to go to war with Iraq in 2003. I also have a long-standing interest in the study of the international arms trade, both the legal and the illicit trades. At the same time, I have been interested in the British Labour Party's historic approach to the question of war, the subject of The Labour Party, War and International Relations 1945-2006 (see below).

I am co-editor of the Journal Intelligence and National Security, an Associate Editor of the journal Crime, Law and Social Change, and a former editor of the Journal of Intelligence History.

Current research

Currently, I am working on two themes: a book on the politics of British arms sales since 1997 with Robert Dover of Loughborough University, which will be published by Manchester University Press in 2016, and developing my previous work on intelligence ethics, including the implications of the Snowden leaks and their reception.

Recent research activities

A revised and expanded 2nd edition of Intelligence in an Insecure World was published by Polity in autumn 2012, and my edited book, Understanding the Intelligence Cycle, was published by Routledge in June 2013.I took part in a forum on the Edward Snowden leaks in Intelligence and National Security (December 2014) and a co-authored article, ‘Intellectuals of the Left and the Atomic Dilemma in the Age of the US Atomic Monopoly, 1945-1949’, has just been published by Contemporary British History.


I am interested in supervising projects in the broad area of Intelligence Studies.

You can learn more and apply for research degrees in Politics and International Relations online.

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