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War Studies celebrates 50 years

Posted on 31/01/2012

Head of Department Professor Mervyn Frost with former heads of the Department of War Studies

The Department of War Studies is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Established in 1962, the Department has since become a world leader in its field with around 100 staff and associated researchers studying all aspects of war, peace and security in the past, present and future.

War Studies now offers 13 MA programmes with over 400 students, alongside over 200 doctoral candidates and a highly popular War Studies undergraduate course.

To celebrate its landmark anniversary the Department held a special event on Friday 27th January - ‘War Studies: a Department and a Discipline, Past, Present and Future’, featuring talks and discussions by current staff and former heads of the Department including Professor Sir Laurence Martin, Professor Brian Bond, Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman and founder of the Department, Professor Sir Michael Howard and followed by an evening reception.

Head of Department Professor Mervyn Frost said: ‘The Department is unique in the UK and one of the very few university departments in the world devoted exclusively to the multi-disciplinary study of war as a phenomenon.

‘Wars challenge all aspects of the societies in which they occur and its study, therefore, deserves academic analysis like any other subject to deepen our understanding of war’s complex issues.’

Professor Sir Michael Howard said: ‘This is a Golden Jubilee well worth celebrating. The Department began in 1962 and that it should have grown so much speaks volumes for the dedication of its staff, the quality of its students, the political skills of its leadership and the urgency of the need it was created to fill.

‘I find it astonishing that it is 50 years since we started it all up and equally astonishing that it has grown so enormously.

‘When I was here it consisted of a staff of three and 10 graduate students, and that was it.’

Friday’s celebration offered current students, alumni and staff, past and present, the opportunity to swap memories and experiences of studying and working in the Department and reflect on how much had changed over the past half century.

Fraser Bomford, who graduated in 2003 after studying an MA in International Relations, said: ‘I quite enjoyed that I could dip into different subjects – war in the media, intelligence, international relations – which allowed me to read a broad range of literature.

‘I still go to quite a few talks and have been surprised by the quality of the lectures which are open to alumni.’

Alastair Rosenschein, who studied MA War and graduated in 2005, said: ‘It was the most exciting degree I’ve done. Every subject was really interesting and the passion of all the lecturers was infectious.’

David Bradley, a former MA student who graduated in 1967, said: ‘Today’s 50th anniversary was a most enjoyable day with fascinating presentations and lectures, the opportunity to meet old friends, rounded off by a great reception in the evening.

‘I for one thoroughly enjoyed myself and it was especially gratifying to see how the Department had developed over the years and very encouraging to learn how it was dealing with new subjects and opportunities.’

Chris Woods, a part-time student in intelligence and international security, said: ‘War Studies steps back from the actual mechanics of warfare and is about the concepts, values and systems which underpin it and I think that is a constant which will still be there in 50 years time.’

Kloe Tricot O’Farrell, who is also studying in the Department, said: ‘I feel very privileged to be studying here at King’s this year during the 50th anniversary of War Studies.

‘The course is very relevant and really different from what I’ve previously studied. Schools and universities normally focus on international relations, so studying war itself is a great opportunity’.

For more details contact Anna Mitchell on 0207 848 3092 or

For further information about King’s see our ‘King’s in Brief’ page.

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