Dr Rachel Utley

Dr Rachel Utley


I first came to the University of Leeds as an Undergraduate studying International History and Politics, and it's wonderful to be associated with the degree programme from which I graduated! After my BA (Hons.), First Class, in International History and Politics, I remained at Leeds studying for an MA in Modern International Studies, and subsequently for my PhD on French defence and security policies in the late twentieth century - the title was The French Defence Debate: Consensus and Continuity in the Mitterrand Era.

I began my career with a Special Research Fellowship funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which I held first in the School of History at the University of Leeds, and then in the Department of Politics at the University of York. After the research fellowship I became a Lecturer in Politics at York. I returned to the School of History at the University of Leeds in 2005.

Research interests

My principal research interests lie in international history and cover the period from the later twentieth into the twenty-first centuries, coming to the present day.

I have two particular areas of research specialism.

First, I research extensively in the time period of the French Fifth Republic (since 1958), with a particular focus on French foreign, defence and security policies in these years. I have particular research interests at the more contemporary end of the time frame, from the turn of the 1970s/1980s to the present.

Second, my research considers UK foreign policy under Margaret Thatcher, with particular reference to relations with France under Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and François Mitterrand. This leads to additional interests in UK-French defence and security cooperation in subsequent time periods, from the St Malo agreement of 1998 through to the Lancaster House accords of 2010, and beyond.

I am currently a Co-Investigator in the 2018-21 AHRC-funded project The Weight of the Past in Franco-British Relations, working with Prof Peter Jackson (Glasgow) and Dr Rogelia Pastor-Castro (Strathclyde).

In addition I have researched and published on UN peace operations in the post-Cold War period; European security and defence cooperation; and aspects of the 'War on Terror'.

I welcome enquiries from potential research students interested in working in any of these areas.

I am also Series Editor for the Routledge Series on the Modern History of France, and would be delighted to hear from potential authors.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, History, University of Leeds
  • MA, Modern International Studies, University of Leeds
  • BA (Hons), International History and Politics, University of Leeds

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • British International History Group

Student education

I teach extensively in areas related to my research interests, broadly understood. This usually includes international history in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; UK foreign policy under Margaret Thatcher; Franco-British relations from Waterloo to the present; and the 'War on Terror'. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Politics, Diplomacy, and International History
  • War Studies

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>