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Dr Robert Foley

Dr Robert Foley

  • Academics

Head of the Defence Studies Department and Dean of Academic Studies

Research subject areas

  • Conflict and security
  • History
  • International relations
  • Policy and society
  • Politics

Contact details


I am Dean of Academic Studies/Head of Department at the Defence Studies Department, based at the Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC) at the Defence Academy of the UK.

I first taught at the Defence Studies Department from 2000 to 2005, and I rejoined the department as a reader in September 2012 after seven years at the School of History, University of Liverpool. I am co-director of the First World War Research Group, and I administer the Department’s research blog.

My research currently has two main areas. First, I have long focused on the development of German military thought in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The emphasis in this research has been on the development of strategic and operational ideas and how these shaped German operations, and German battlefield successes and failures, in the First World War. My publications in this area include German Strategy and the Path to Verdun(Cambridge, 2004), which won the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize in 2005, and Alfred von Schlieffen’s Military Writings (London, 2003). My German Army in the First World War will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.

The second area of my research focus is on learning and innovation in wartime. This project is currently in its early stages and combines a history (examining in particular learning during the First World War), contemporary strategic studies (exploring learning in the British armed forces during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan) and management theory (applying and adapting organizational learning and knowledge management theories to armed forces). I have published a number of articles in this area, and my article ‘Learning War’s Lessons: The German Army and the Battle of the Somme, 1916,’ Journal of Military History (2012) was awarded a Moncado Prize by the Society for Military History.

I have been very active in the centenary of the First World War commemorations, including playing a leading role in organizing the commemorative events of the Defence Academy, aiding the British Army in its commemorations, and giving numerous public lectures and scholarly papers on German strategy and operations during the war.

PhD Supervision

Dr Foley is happy to supervise PhD students in the following broad subject areas:

  • The First World War
  • Military Learning
  • Military Innovation
  • Military and Strategic Thought

Research Interests

  • First World War
  • German Military Thought, 1871-1945
  • Military Innovation and Learning

MA Special Subject

The Origins of the First World War, 1870-1914


Dr Robert Foley PURE Profile