Department of War Studies, King's College London

The Department of War Studies (DWS) is an academic department in the School of Security Studies within the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy at King's College London in London, United Kingdom. Along with other politics and international studies units at King's College London, it ranks amongst the top places for international relations in the world.[1] The department is devoted to the multi-disciplinary study of war and diplomacy within the broad remit of international relations.

Department of War Studies,
King's College London
Parent institution
Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy, King's College London
Head of DepartmentMichael Rainsborough
Academic staff
Strand, London

The department's alumni includes senior government officials, military personnel, diplomats, journalists, academics and businesspeople. Amongst them are former Prime Minister of Jordan Marouf al-Bakhit; Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq Nickolay Mladenov and former Commandant General Royal Marines Sir Robert Fry. The department is affiliated with numerous think-tanks and foreign policy institutions.[2] It also houses numerous research institutes and centres, including the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives.

Since 2016, the Head of Department has been Michael Rainsborough, who is also the Professor of Strategic Theory. The Department of War Studies is located on the 6th floor of the King's Building on the Strand Campus of King's College London.


A Department of Military Science existed at King's College London from 1848 to 1859. Military Science was subsequently approved as a subject for the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science general degrees from 1913, and was taught under the Faculty of Arts and also the Faculty of Engineering.

In 1926 the intervention of William Norton Medlicott prevented the Department of History from ridding itself of the lectureship in Military History.[3] With War Office support the Military Studies Department was established in 1926 and formed part of the Faculty of Arts, with Major General Sir Frederick Barton Maurice holding the Chair. It became known as the War Studies Department in 1943 but was discontinued in 1948, although the subject continued to be taught under the Department of Medieval and Modern History.

Following the World War II, there was an initiative by senior members of University of London notably Lionel Robbins, Sir Charles Webster and Keith Hancock, to revive Military Studies at the University. In 1953, Sir Michael Howard was appointed to the Lectureship in Military Studies, and by 1962 Sir Michael was able to reinstate the Department of War Studies to offer postgraduate courses.

A Bachelor of Arts degree in War Studies was offered from 1992 onwards. The department became part of the School of Humanities in 1989 and the School of Social Science and Public Policy in 2001.[4]

In 2012 the department celebrated its 50th anniversary, with a series of celebratory events to mark the occasion.[5]

Notable alumni and students

Government and politics

Military, security and diplomacy

Academia, media and business

Past and present faculty

Heads of Department
Period Head
1962–1968 Sir Michael Howard
1968–1978 Sir Laurence Martin
1978–1982 Wolf Mendl
1982–1997 Sir Lawrence Freedman
1997–2001 Christopher Dandeker
2001–2007 Brian Holden-Reid
2007–2013 Mervyn Frost
2013–2016 Theo Farrell
2016–present Michael Rainsborough

Tolstoy Cup

The Tolstoy Cup is an annual football match played between the students of the Department of War Studies at King's and the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford since 1995. The rivalry between 'Peace Studies' and 'War Studies' was featured on the Financial Times list of "Great college sports rivalries".[9] The competition is named after War and Peace, the 1869 novel written by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy. The "trophy" is a framed copy of the book. It is kept by the department of the current winners.


  1. "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2013 – Politics & International Studies". Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  2. King's College London – School of Social Science & Public Policy. (19 June 2013). Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  4. "King's College London: Department of War Studies Records". King's Collections. Archived from the original on 21 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  5. "War Studies celebrates 50 years". King's College London. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  6. "Biography of Marouf al-Bakhit". Retrieved 22 December 2008.(subscription required)
  7. "Martin Bourke". Who's Who.(subscription required)
  8. United States Department of State
  9. Scott, Izabella (25 March 2011). "The List: Five great college sports rivalries". Financial Times. London.
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