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Academic Staff (A-Z)

Ken Young

Programme Director for MA Public Policy
& Professor of Public Policy


Contact Details:

Department of Political Economy
Room S2.35
Strand Building
Strand Campus
London WC2R 2LS

Telephone +44 (0)20 7848 2708 

Office Hours:


Professor Ken Young was educated at the London School of Economics and taught there and at the Universities of Kent, Bristol and Cambridge before joining the Policy Studies Institute in 1980. He was appointed Professor and Director of the Institute of Local Government Studies at the University of Birmingham in 1987 and came to London in 1990 as the Head of the Department of Politics at Queen Mary and Westfield College, and served six years as Vice-Principal there. He joined King's in September 2005 as Professor of Public Policy with a remit to develop Faculty-wide postgraduate programme and is the programme director of the MA in Public Policy and Management. Ken has extensive experience of public affairs, having served as advisor to the House of Commons Select Committee on Environment and as advisor and research director to the Committee of Inquiry into the Conduct of Local Authority Business. He was a member of the Local Government Boundary Commission during 1989-91, and from 2000 to 2005 was Director of the ESRC UK Centre for Evidence Based Policy and Practice.  Ken is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences. 

Ken is the Programme Director for the Public Policy MA ( semester 1).

Research Interests

  • The politics of decision-making, especially with regard to defence 
  • Air power and technology 
  • Post-1945 UK politics and policy 
  • The reform of Whitehall, 1979-2010

Doctoral Supervision

Ken Young offers PhD supervision in: 
  • Defence policy 
  • Anglo-American defence relations 
  • Foreign policy 


Ken Young's current work is in the politics of defence in the early Cold War and he is working on two books on aspects of the Anglo-American nuclear relationship: An American Bomb in Britain: The Deployment of US Strategic Nuclear Forces, 1948-1964 (for Manchester University Press) and a political history of the US hydrogen bomb decision of 1950, working with the papers of the late Professor Warner L. Schilling of Columbia University.  His recent articles include:

'The Royal Navy’s Polaris lobby, 1955-62’, Journal of Strategic Studies, 25 (3), 2002, pp. 56-86.

‘The Skybolt crisis of 1962: muddle or mischief?’ Journal of Strategic Studies,28 (4), 2004, pp. 614-635.

‘US “atomic capability” and the British forward bases in the early Cold War’, Journal of Contemporary History, 42 (1), January 2007, pp. 117-136.

‘A most special relationship: the origins of Anglo-American nuclear strike planning’, Journal of Cold War Studies, 9 (2) Spring, 2007, pp. 5-31.

‘No blank cheque: Anglo-American (mis)understandings and the use of the English airbases’, Journal of Military History, 71 (4), October 2007, pp. 1133-1168. 

‘Special Weapon, Special Relationship: The Atomic Bomb Comes to Britain’, Journal Of Military History, April 2013, 77 (2), pp. 523-556.

‘Cold War Insecurities, and the Curious Case of John Strachey’, Intelligence and National Security, forthcoming Autumn 2015, online, December 2013. 

‘Revisiting NSC-68’, Journal of Cold War Studies, 15 (1), Winter 2013, pp.3-33.

‘The Hydrogen Bomb, Lewis L. Strauss and the Writing of Nuclear History’, Journal of Strategic Studies, 36 (6), Spring 2013, pp. 815-840. 

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