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Helene Olsen is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of War Studies and a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Defence Studies Department whose research examines the use of mercenaries and private military and security companies. Her thesis focuses on issues surrounding mercenaries and legitimacy.

Helene obtained an MA in War Studies in 2015 and subsequently continued her research as a PhD student.


Doctoral Research

Helene’s research focuses broadly on the organisation of violence and the privatisation of military and security functions. In her current research she looks at how mercenaries have been objected against and de-legitimised using specific speech-acts and how these seem to transcend historical settings. She explores the tension between the extensive use of mercenaries in warfare and the apparent moral opposition to their presence and actions, and further suggests that mercenaries are objected against and de-legitimised when they are perceived as disruptors of the ideal polity.


Research Interests

  • Private security
  • Mercenaries
  • Legitimacy
  • The organization of violence
  • Violence and the state
  • Morality and war



Helene Olsen PURE Profile 



Helene has taught on various courses in the department, including “Art of War Studies” and “History of the International System”. Helene also teaches at Department of Defence Studies, KCL, at the Joint Services Command and Staff College in Shrivenham. 



Dr Jan Honig