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Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer in International Studies, Defense and Security., King's College London

Dr Rod Thornton specialises in the study of the Russian military, particularly its emphasis on sub-threshold warfare activities – such as cyber and psychological operations.

He originally served for nine years in an infantry regiment of the British Army (1980-88). During his time, he spent four years in Germany and three years in Northern Ireland. He left to go to university in 1988. After a degree in Russian and Serbo-Croat, he subsequently rejoined the Army to serve as an interpreter in Bosnia (1992-93). He then began a career in academia after time spent living in both Moscow and Kiev (Kyiv). He went on to teach, firstly at King’s and then at the University of Nottingham and at the University of Hewler in Erbil, Kurdish Region of Iraq. He returned to King’s in 2013 where he was seconded to teach at the Qatari Staff College. Down the years, Rod has taught on a wide variety of topic areas – including international affairs, guerrilla warfare, counter-insurgency, terrorism, the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, Russian history and the history of the Middle East.

Research Interests
The Russian armed forces
Russian sub-threshold warfare
Russian cyber capabilities
UK homeland resilience
Russian military high-tech systems
Along with a series of articles and book chapters, Rod has written a book entitled ‘Asymmetric Warfare’ with Polity Press (2007). He is currently working on a book about the Russian armed forces.

This encompasses the study of its army, navy and air force but also its activities in the sub-threshold space. Recently, Rod’s research concentration has been on Russian cyberspace operations. In light of Russian sub-threshold warfare activities, his research also encompasses homeland resilience capacity in the UK. He recently received a British Academy grant to look at UK homeland resilience capacity during the COVID-19 crisis.

Rod teaches across a broad range of subject areas related to international affairs and defence and security issues. He is based at the UK Defence Academy, Shrivenham. He lectures on a variety of topics that include air power, naval power and land warfare.


  • –present
    Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer, King's College London