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Dr Thomas Colley
Dr Colley

Dr Thomas Colley

  • Visiting
  • Research fellows

Visiting Research Fellow in War Studies

Senior Lecturer, Department of Defence and International Affairs, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

Research subject areas

  • Conflict and security

Contact details


Dr Thomas Colley is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of War Studies and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Defence and International Affairs at Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

His research interests include propaganda, strategic communication and their historical and contemporary use in war. His research is driven by a fascination with how to understand better what publics actually think, and thus how they might be persuaded or resist persuasion.

His first book, Always at War, investigates the similarities in how British citizens construct stories about war. He has spoken about his research on BBC television and radio, and his analysis has featured in various outlets including the Times, the Independent and the Daily Telegraph.

His current research examines the use of narratives in military strategy, and the societal impact of disinformation. He has also advised the UK Home Office and Cabinet Office based on his research. 

In 2017 Dr Colley  was awarded King's prestigious ‘Rising Star’ Teaching Excellence Award.

Research Interests

  • Propaganda, strategic communication and their use in war
  • Strategic narratives in politics and international relations
  • Military Strategy and its communication dynamics
  • Insurgency and counterinsurgency
  • British foreign policy and international identity
  • Narrative analysis and methodologies
  • Climate change strategic communication
  • Social media and its utility for defence practitioners
  • Disinformation and its societal impact


Dr Colley has co-convened the MA War Studies’ flagship module, the Theory and Practice of War and the MA Evolution of Insurgency module. He has also delivered lectures and seminars on numerous other modules in the department, including MA Strategic Communication, BA3 New Wars, New Media, New Journalism, BA2 Military Strategy, BA2 War and Global Conflict in the Contemporary World, BA3 Contemporary Military Strategy, and BA1 Experience of War. He has also lectured on the NATO European Security Cooperation Course at NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany.



  • Colley, Thomas. Always at War: British Public Narratives of War (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2019).

Book Chapters

  • Colley, Thomas. ‘Strategic Narratives and War Propaganda’. In Baines, Paul, Nicholas O’Shaughnessy, and Nancy Snow, eds. The Sage Handbook of Propaganda (London: SAGE, 2020).
  • Colley, Thomas. ‘Diplomacy and Domestic Populations’. In Spence, Jack, Claire Yorke and Alastair Masser, eds. New Perspectives of Diplomacy (London: I.B.Tauris, forthcoming 2020).

Recent Journal Articles

  • Schievels, Jelte and Thomas Colley. ‘Explaining rebel-state collaboration in insurgency: Keep your friends close but your enemies closer’. Small Wars & Insurgencies, forthcoming 2020.
  • Colley, Thomas and Martin Moore. ‘The challenges of studying 4chan and the Alt-Right: ‘Come on in the water’s fine’. New Media and Society, forthcoming 2020.
  • Colley, Thomas et al. ‘Disinformation’s Societal Impact: Britain, COVID and Beyond.’ Defence Strategic Communications 8, Spring 2020, 89-139, 
  • Bevan, Luke, Thomas Colley and Mark Workman. ‘Climate change strategic narratives in the UK: Emergency, Extinction, Effectiveness’. Energy Research and Social Science, Vol. 69, 2020.
  • Michelsen, Nicholas and Thomas Colley. ‘The field of Strategic Communications Professionals: A new research agenda for International Security’, European Journal of International Security, Vol. 4, 2019, No. 1, pp. 61-78.
  • Colley, Thomas. ‘Britain’s Public War Stories: Punching Above its Weight or Vanishing Force?’ Defence Strategic Communications, Vol. 2, 2017, pp. 162-190.
  • Colley, Thomas. ‘Is Britain a force for good? Investigating British citizens’ narrative understanding of war’, Defence Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2017, pp. 1-22.

Reports and Policy Papers

  • Colley, Thomas et al. ‘Social Media’s Representativeness, Robustness and Reliability: A Review’. King’s Centre for Strategic Communications, 2020.
  • Colley, Thomas. ‘Strategic Communication in Conflict Resolution: Disinformation and Social Media’. In ‘The Role Of Media In Conflict Resolution: Reflections On Turkey’s Resolution Process’. Democratic Progress Institute, Istanbul, Turkey, September 2019, 8-32, 
  • Colley, Thomas, et al. ‘The Impact of Disinformation: A Literature Review’. King’s Centre for Strategic Communications, 2019.

Recent Media Output

Dr Tom Colley PURE Profile