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Dr Frank Foley is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the Department of War Studies. His main interests are counterterrorism, human rights, intelligence and police agencies, and he conducts field research on these topics in the UK, US, France and Spain.

Prior to this post, he held post-doctoral fellowships at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Co-operation (CISAC); at the Department of War Studies; and at the Centre for Political and Constitutional Studies in Madrid. In 2010 he received a “Terrorism Research Award” from the US National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).

He holds a PhD in Political Science (2008) from the European University Institute in Florence and an MPhil in the History of Political Thought from the University of Cambridge. He conducted research on the Northern Ireland conflict at the University of Ulster during 2004 and worked as a journalist in Brussels between 2001 and 2003.

Students can arrange meetings with Frank, here.

Research interests

Counterterrorism: He is interested in why states respond to terrorism as they do, and the consequences of counterterrorist policy for the state, for individual citizens and for militant networks. His first book – Countering Terrorism in Britain and France: Institutions, Norms and the Shadow of the Past (Cambridge University Press, 2013) – is a comparative analysis of British and French counterterrorist policies, legislation and operations. Drawing on institutional and constructivist theories, it argues that western states’ different institutions and norms in the field of security are shaping their responses to Islamist terrorism, leading to divergent approaches to a common problem.  The book has been reviewed in European Political Science as part of a review exchange with Professor Stuart Croft; it has also been reviewed in the SpectatorPerspectives on Politics,  Political Studies Review and Terrorism and Political Violence

Human Rights: His research in this area seeks to identify the conditions under which the security agencies of liberal democracies violate human rights, particularly in the context of counterterrorist campaigns. This includes a comparative project on how the global anti-torture norm is interpreted and implemented in different national and organisational contexts.

Intelligence and Law Enforcement: This research focuses on the respective roles of intelligence and law enforcement agencies in counterterrorism and the relationship between them on national security investigations. It includes a project that analyses the co-ordination of counterterrorist police and intelligence agencies within the United States, Britain and France, drawing on organisation theory to explain why some countries achieve higher levels of inter-agency co-operation than others. Key findings of this project can be found in this Washington Post piece and this journal article.


Please see for downloadable articles, and my entry in the Research Portal for a full list of publications.


He convenes two modules: 
  • 4SSW1008 Conflict and Diplomacy (BA in IR)
  • 7SSWM082 Political Violence, Counterterrorism and Human Rights (MA)
He also teaches on other modules, especially the core course of the MA in Terrorism, Security and Society.

Expertise and public engagement

He writes opinion pieces and comment on terrorism, counterterrorism and torture for a variety of media, including the Washington Post, the Economist, the Guardian, the IndependentBBC News, BBC Radio 4, NewsweekFrance 24, Voice of America, Radio France Internationale and the Sun. My book has also been covered in the Telegraph and the Spectator online.

He has briefed governments and security practitioners on my research findings, including the UK Home Office, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, British and French counterterrorist officials, and Department of Defense staff at the Pentagon in Washington DC.