British foreign policy since 1945, especially on East-West relations, European integration and diplomatic practice.
My teaching reflects my research interests in international history since the late nineteenth century and the broader subject of diplomatic practice.
I convene a second year module on 'British Foreign Policy and the Origins of the World Wars, 1895-1939' which exploits the large number of works that have been published on the coming of war in 1914 and the era of appeasement.
My third year Special Subject on 'The July Crisis' focuses on the decisions made by key European governments as they committed themselves to war in 1914, making use of original materials such as those published in the series 'British Documents on the Origins of the war of 1914.'
At MA level I teach a wide-ranging module on 'The Evolution of Diplomacy', which goes as far back as Ancient Egypt and the Amarna archive to explore what we mean by diplomacy and how diplomatic practice has altered over time.
I also contribute lectures to other undergraduate modules, including Roads to Modernity (first year) and The Contemporary World (second year).
Here are some more detailed descriptions of my main modules:
V12265, Britain and the Origins of the World Wars, 1895-1939. This module provides a study of British foreign policy, from the last years of the Victorian Era to the German invasion of Poland in 1939. It focuses in particular on the policy of British governments, giving an historical analysis of the main developments in their relationship with the wider world, such as the making of the ententes, entry into the two world wars, appeasement and relations with other great powers. It also discusses the wider background factors which influenced British policy and touches on such diverse factors as Imperial defence, financial limitations and the influence of public opinion.
V13321 The July Crisis: the outbreak and origins of the Great War. This module surveys and analyses the policies of the main countries involved in the outbreak of the First World War in July-August 1914. It focuses in particular on the reasons they took the diplomatic and military decisions they did, including both specific decisions and the background factors that helped shape their thinking. The module aims to provide students with an understanding of the general course of the crisis, a knowledge of the diverse influences which affected decision makers, and an understanding of the historiographical and theoretical debates surrounding the subject.
V14425/V14505, The Evolution of Diplomacy. This module, which is linked to the research interests of the course leader, provides an advanced study of the evolution of diplomacy from ancient times to the twentieth century. It focuses in particular on such key developments as permanent embassies, foreign ministries and summit conferences. While giving an historical overview it asks questions throughout about the current relevance of such diplomatic practices as the sending of envoys, the appointment of ambassadors and the elite nature of policy-making in the diplomatic field. It also discusses the broader issues about the definition and purpose of diplomacy.
In 2011 I was awarded a one of the first Personal Tutor Oscars by the University of Nottingham Students' Union.
Since about 2005 my main research interests focus on questions of diplomatic method - especially the role of ambassadors and embassies in international communication, summit meetings and multilateral… read more
ROY, R. and YOUNG, J.W., eds., 2009. Ambassador to sixties London: the diaries of David Bruce, 1961-69 Republic of Letters.
Since about 2005 my main research interests focus on questions of diplomatic method - especially the role of ambassadors and embassies in international communication, summit meetings and multilateral diplomacy, policy on diplomatic recognition, and the continuing use of 'special missions' by states.
I have been the chair of the British International History Group since 2002.
In 2008, I published a monograph, 'Twentieth Century Diplomacy' (Cambridge University Press) on British diplomatic practice in the 1960s and 1970s looking at such areas as government reports on the Diplomatic Service, the value of ambassadors, the use of summits and multilateral conferences, recognition of governments and breaches in diplomatic relations. To help me write this up I received a matching-study leave award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
This was followed by co-edited collections of essays on 'The Washington Embassy' of the United Kingdom (published by Palgrave-Macmillan in 2009) and the 'The Paris Embassy' (published in 2013).
In 2014 I published a detailed study of the ambassadorship of David Bruce as Ambassador to London in the 1960s, drawing out his role in a diverse range of areas from embassy management, political reporting and intelligence work, to public diplomacy, cultural work and his role in the London diplomatic corps. I hope this can serve as a basis for comparisons to other diplomats working in different locations and time periods. Again, this work was supported by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, for which I am deeply grateful.
As a sideline, I am also interested in British policy during the July Crisis of 1914 and, in 2104, published an article in the journal 'Diplomacy and Statecraft' on the role of the opposition Conservatives in the crisis. I am currently workin on the role of Winston Churchill.
British foreign policy since 1945, the Cold War and diplomatic practice.
PhD students who I have recently supervised to completion are as follows:
Andrew Holt - Britain's international policy during the Douglas-Home administration of 1963-64
Luman Ali - Britain and the Iranian Revolution
Roberto Fornasier - Italian-US Relations, 1969-74
I currently supervise students working on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings and the Rhodesia problem in 1966-80, Turkish intelligence co-operation with the Western powers 1945-60, US mediation in Middle East conflicts and How British governments learn from historical experience of international crises.
Until 2000 I focused my research on the early years of the Cold War and European integration, with works based on archival research in Britain, France and the US. Alongside other European international historians I tried to demonstrate the importance of British and French policy decisions to the outbreak of the Cold War. In looking at the Cold War in 1945-55, I was interested in illuminating France's decision to side with the Western powers in NATO (in France, the Cold War and the Western Alliance, 1945-49 of 1990) and in showing how Churchill's advocacy of détente in the 1950s was consistent with his earlier urging of resistance to Stalin's expansionism (in Winston Churchill's Last campaign: Britain and the Cold War, 1951-55 of 1996)). In looking at European integration I have argued that the traditional view, that Britain 'missed the bus' on European unity in the early post-war years, is simplistic. Britain had an active and considered policy towards Western Europe in this period, and one that had positive aspects; historians need to explain why this policy did not lead the country towards a more active role in supranational bodies. See Britain, France and the Unity of Europe, 1945-51 (1984) and Britain and European Unity, 1945-99 (second edition, 2000).