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Thomas Colley

Dr Thomas Colley

Senior Visiting Research Fellow in War Studies

  • Senior Lecturer in Defence and International Affairs at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

Research interests

  • Conflict and security

Biography

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

His research interests include propaganda, strategic communication and disinformation and their historical and contemporary use in war. His research is driven by a fascination with how to better understand 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. His second examines China’s communication regarding the Belt and Road Initiative. His current book project investigates how states are trying to manipulate the news to shape reality.

He has spoken about his research on BBC television and radio, and his analysis has featured in various outlets including the Times, the Independent, the I and the Daily Telegraph. He has also consulted for the UK Home Office, Cabinet Office and DSTL based on his research. He is a previous recipient of King’s’ ‘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

Teaching

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. He is supervising a PhD on UK combatants’ memories of the war in Afghanistan. In his role at Sandhurst, he has delivered Defence Engagement courses to senior officers across the world, including in Ethiopia, Jamaica, Lithuania, Malaysia and Uzbekistan.

Publications

Books

  • Moore, Martin and Thomas Colley. News Wars: How Governments Are Battling to Shape Reality (New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming).
  • Colley, Thomas and Carolijn van Noort. Strategic Narratives, Ontological Security and Global Policy: Responses to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2022).
  • Colley, Thomas. Always at War: British Public Narratives of War (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2019).

Book Chapters

  • Van Noort, Carolijn and Thomas Colley. ‘China’s Belt and Road Initiative’. In Critical Issues in Contemporary China, 3rd ed. (New York: Routledge, forthcoming).
  • Colley, Thomas. ‘Diplomacy and Domestic Populations’. In Spence, Jack, Claire Yorke and Alastair Masser, eds. New Perspectives of Diplomacy (London: I.B. Tauris, 2021).
  • 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).

Journal Articles

  • Colley, Thomas and Martin Moore. ‘News as geopolitics: China, CGTN and the 2020 US presidential election’. The Journal of International Communication, 2022, https://doi.org/10.1080/13216597.2022.2120522.Moore, Martin and
  • Thomas Colley. ‘Two International Propaganda Models: Comparing RT and CGTN’s 2020 US Election Coverage’. Journalism Practice, 2022, https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2022.2086157.
  • Van Noort, Carolijn and Thomas Colley. ‘How do strategic narratives shape policy adoption? Responses to China's Belt and Road Initiative’. Review of International Studies, Vol. 47, No. 1, 2021, pp.39-63.
  • Schievels, Jelte and Thomas Colley. ‘Explaining rebel-state collaboration in insurgency: Keep your friends close but your enemies closer’. Small Wars & Insurgencies, Vol. 32, no. 8, 2021, pp. 1332-1361.
  • 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, Vol. 24, no. 1, 2020, pp. 5-30.
  • Colley, Thomas et al. ‘Disinformation’s Societal Impact: Britain, COVID and Beyond.’ Defence Strategic Communication, Vol. 8, Spring 2020, 89-139

Recent Media Articles

  • The propaganda tricks Putin will use to stay in power’, The I Newspaper, 26 June 2023.
  • ‘Inside Russia’s cynical propaganda war in which attacks on civilians are opportunities’, The I Newspaper, 26 June 2023.
  • ‘We need to look beyond social media to tackle the scourge of disinformation’, The Independent, 23 August 2020.

Dr Tom Colley PURE Profile

Research

Hero strat comms
King's Centre for Strategic Communication

KCSC aims to be the leading global centre of expertise on strategic communications.

ESRChero
Environmental Security research group

The Environmental Security research group brings together scholars from the security community and scholars working on issues of environmental security.

Research

Hero strat comms
King's Centre for Strategic Communication

KCSC aims to be the leading global centre of expertise on strategic communications.

ESRChero
Environmental Security research group

The Environmental Security research group brings together scholars from the security community and scholars working on issues of environmental security.