School of Politics and International Relations

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Rory Cormac

Associate Professor of International Relations, Faculty of Social Sciences



Dr Rory Cormac is an Associate Professor of International Relations specialising in Secret Intelligence, Covert Action, and National Security.

In 2018, he held a Leverhulme International Academic Fellowship based at Johns Hopkins University. Between 2015 and 2017, he held an AHRC Fellowship examining British approaches to covert action, 1945-1968.

Rory is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Before joining Nottingham, Rory worked at the University of Warwick and King's College London.

Expertise Summary

  • Secret Intelligence
  • MI6
  • Covert Action
  • Prime Ministers and Intelligence
  • Intelligence Assessment and the Joint Intelligence Committee

Rory has appeared in numerous national and international media outlets, including the BBC Breakfast, BBC 5Live Breakfast Show, BBC History Magazine, BBC News 24, BBC World TV, BBC 2 (on Portillo's State Secrets and Victoria Derbyshire), BBC Radio 4 (Document; PM), BBC BOOKtalk, The Independent on Sunday, Buzzfeed, Newsweek Europe, Notts TV, ABC (NewsRadio) [Australia], and Channel 4's Spying on the Royals

Praise for The Black Door:

An "excellently informed yet also admirably unsensational history […which] deserves to be read very seriously". Sir Max Hastings, Sunday Times

"Pioneering … This is one of those rare books that deserve to change the way that modern British political history is researched and written." Prof Christopher Andrew, Literary Review

"Richard Aldrich and Rory Cormac are inexhaustible researchers, who use a wide range of archives (some only recently declassified) and include striking material from off-the-record informants. The Black Door is a vital, authoritative book." Richard Davenport-Hines, The Times

"An excellent assessment of the ways in which successive prime ministers have worked with the intelligence agencies over the last century". Andrew Lycett, History Today

"Magisterial study … from two eminent historians and fully backed up with references. It's an eye-opener and one that should be carefully digested by everyone involved in politics." Stephen Kelly, Tribune Magazine

Teaching Summary

Rory teaches across a broad range of security topics:

  • Problems in Global Politics
  • Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism
  • Secret Intelligence and International Security

He is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Research Summary

Rory is currently researching:

  • Covert Action and Unacknowledged Interventionism
  • Secret Intelligence and British Prime Ministers
  • Secret Intelligence and the British Royal Family

Recent Publications

  • RORY CORMAC and OLIVER DADDOW, 2018. Covert Action Failure and Fiasco Construction: William Hague’s 2011 Libyan Venture Journal of European Public Policy. 28(5), 690-707
  • RORY CORMAC, 2018. "C" and Covert Action: The Impact and Agency of Stewart Menzies in Britain’s Secret Foreign Policy. In: CHRISTOPHER MORAN, MARK STOUT, IOANNA IORDANOU and PAUL MADDRELL, eds., Spy Chiefs: Volume 1: Intelligence Leaders in the United States and United Kingdom Georgetown University Press.
  • RORY CORMAC, 2018. Disrupt and Deny: Spies, Special Forces, and the Secret Pursuit of British Foreign Policy Oxford University Press.
  • RORY CORMAC and RICHARD J ALDRICH, 2018. Grey is the New Black: Covert Action and Implausible Deniability International Affairs. 94(3), 477-494

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