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Professor Anthony King

B.A (Cantab), M.A. (University of Michigan), Ph.D (Salford)

Professor of Defence and Security Studies, Director Strategy and Security Institute


Professor Anthony King was appointed as the Director of the University of Exeter’s pioneering Strategy and Security Institute. Professor King said: “I’m delighted to work with colleagues at the Strategy and Security Institute to continue its work as a leading policy-facing research centre in the UK.” The Strategy and Security Institute established in 2010 has become a leading centre for research and teaching, especially with its flagship programme the MA in Applied Strategy. Professor King is currently revising and re-invigorating the MStrat, which will be re-launched for the 2025/26 academic year. The course provides student with an advanced academic understanding of strategy but, uniquely, it also trains students in the practical application of strategy with field trips, simulations and exercises. Professor King also aims to raise the research profile of SSI, and is hoping to develop some major funded research programmes, including a project on AI, security, and military decision-making. SSI is actively recruiting doctoral students in wide range of topics related to security.


His inaugual lecture took place in December 2023, and you can view the recording here.

Research interests

Professor King’s research is wide-ranging. He conducted his doctoral research on the transformation of English football in the 1990s and subsequently published extensively on the sociology of football, hooliganism, and sport more widely. In his early career, he also worked on social theory, and especially on the topic of structure and agency, on which topic he published a monograph in 2004. He has continued to publish in social theory but, following the 9/11 attacks, he began to explore the question of war, the armed forces, and miliary culture. He has worked in the field of military sociology and security studies for the last twenty years, publishing four monographs, including a trilogy of military transformation; The Transformation of Europe’s Armed Forces (Cambridge University Press, 2011), The Combat Soldier (Oxford University Press, 2013), Command (Cambridge University Press, 2019). His most recent book, Urban Warfare in the Twenty-First Century, was published in 2021; a second edition of this book will appear in 2025. He is currently working on a monograph of AI and military transformation, called AI, Automation, and War, to be published by Princeton University Press in 2025.

Professor King’s work is wide-ranging but it is unified by an enduring sociological interest in the rich life-worlds of exclusive social groups, football fans, infantry soldiers, military headquarters, and their historical development.

Professor King is actively looking to recruit doctorial students in strategy, security studies, and military sociology and anthropology

Professor King makes regular appearances on national and international media to discuss issues related to security and defence policy.

Research supervision


  • Social Theory/Philosophy of the Social Sciences
  • Sport and Football
  • Consumption and Identity
  • Contemporary Britain
  • Europe, European integration and European identity
  • Masculinity
  • Violence
  • The Media
  • The Military

Prospective postgraduates interested in any of King’s specified research areas are encouraged to contact him direct. He is actively looking to recruit new doctoral students especially in the areas of football/sport, social theory and the armed forces.

He has examined PhDs at the Universities of Liverpool, Warwick, Loughborough, Manchester, Bangor, Kings' College London and EUI.


Research students

2010-2013: Daniel Smith The Jack Wills Brand. Submitted August 2013.

2009-2013: Paola Innocenti The Sociology of Abortion in Italy. PhD. Awarded June 2013.

2009-2012: Victor Gazis Video Gaming: the sociology of a lifeworld. PhD Awarded 14 November 2012.

2007-10: Mark Doidge New Localism and Italian Fan Culture; a sociology of Livorno Football Club, PhD awarded February 2011.

 1999-2002: Ahmed Al-Mansoori, Camel Racing in the United Arab Emirates, full-time, overseas PhD student. PhD awarded February 2002.


Other information

Anthony King is a member of the editorial board of The European Journal of SocialTheory and. He currently reviews articles for numerous other journals including Sociological Review, British Journal of Social, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Theory, Culture and Society and American Journal of Sociology.

Media Work:
Anthony King has made increasingly frequent appearances on the national media, discussing topics from football to social class. He is available for future work and can be contacted directly. He is currently planning a programme proposal for a documentary on the armed forces.

Mentoring/Advising :
As a result of his research on the armed forces, Anthony King has been increasingly engaged in advisory work. He has given lectures at the Joint Services Command and Staff College for a number of years and is now on the advisory panel of this institution. He worked in the Prism Cell of NATO's Regional Command South in Afghanistan in 2009-2010, a branch of the headquarters offering non-military advice to the commander.



Anthony King read Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University, where he specialised in Social Anthropology and was supervised by Keith Hart. He graduated in 1989, and then studied an MA in Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor between 1989 and 1991. In the course of this MA, he sustained his interest in anthropology, working on a Native Canadian Reserve in British Columbia. On returning to Britain, he began an ESRC-funded PhD (‘The Premier League and the New Consumption of Football’) at Salford University under Ian Taylor in 1992. He completed his dissertation in 1995 and was appointed as a lecturer in the Sociology Department at Liverpool University. In 1997, he moved to Exeter where he was Head of the Department, 2006-09. He has held three ESRC grants while at Exeter and in 2012-13 was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College Oxford.

Anthony King is a keen sportsman. He has climbed since he was a teenager, rowed for the Cambridge University lightweights against Oxford in 1988, and skied for the University of Michigan cross-country ski club in 1990-91. In his spare time, he currently fell-runs, rock-climbs, surfs and skis. He completed a Bob Graham Round in 2012. 

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