Professor Edward Spiers


Army and society in the 19th and 20th centuries; Contemporary strategic thought; Chemical and biological warfare


  • MA (First Class Hons.) Politics and Modern History (University of Edinburgh, 1970)
  • ICI Fibres (market research executive) 1970-1
  • PhD 'The Reform of the Front-Line Forces of the Regular Army in the United Kingdom, 1895-1914' (University of Edinburgh, 1971-4)
  • Charles Stuart Pennell Prize (European History) University of Edinburgh (1968)
  • Jeremiah Dalziel Prize (PhD in British History) University of Edinburgh (1974)
  • Lecturer, City of London Polytechnic, 1974-5
  • Defence Lecturer, University of Leeds, 1975-85
  • Lecturer, University of Leeds, 1985-7
  • Visiting Lecturer, Department of History, University of Alberta, Edmonton, 1987
  • Reader in Strategic Studies, School of History, University of Leeds, 1987-93
  • Leverhulme Research Fellow, 1991-2
  • Chief Examiner, British Army 1992-2002
  • Professor of Strategic Studies, School of History, University of Leeds, 1993-
  • Chairman, School of History, University of Leeds, 1994-97
  • AHRC Peer Review College, 1994-
  • AHRC Panellist, 2009, 2011
  • AHRC Strategic Review Group, 2011-
  • Dean of Research, Faculty of Arts, University of Leeds, 1999-2002
  • Pro-Dean of Research, Faculty of Arts, University of Leeds, 2006-2011
  • External Reviewer for South Africa's National Research Foundation (2007)
  • Served on the Medieval and Modern History Panel of the AHRC (June 2009)
  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

Research interests

I have undertaken research in British military history 1815-1914 and chemical and biological warfare since 1915.

Current Research Project

A Military History of Scotland

I am co-editing a 300,000-word volume on A Military History of Scotland (Edinburgh University Press). My own research for a chapter on 'Scots and the Wars of Empire, 1815-1914' was funded by a British Academy grant.

Past Research

My previous research has produced the following:

  • Letters from Ladysmith: Eyewitness Accounts From the South African War (Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 2010)
  • A History of Chemical and Biological Weapons (London: Reaktion Press, 2010)
  • Haldane: An Army Reformer  (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1980)
  • The Army and Society 1815-1914  (London: Longman, 1980)
  • Radical General: Sir George de Lacy Evans  (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1983)
  • Chemical Warfare  (London: Macmillan, 1986)
  • Chemical Weaponry: A Continuing Challenge  (London: Macmillan, 1989)
  • The Late Victorian Army 1868-1902  (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992)
  • Chemical and Biological Weapons: A Study of Proliferation  (London: Macmillan, 1994)
  • Wars of Intervention: A Case Study - The Reconquest of the Sudan 1896-99 (Strategic & Combat Studies Institute, Occasional Paper No. 32, 1998)
  • (edited) Sudan: The Reconquest Reappraised (London: Frank Cass, 1998)
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction: Prospects for Proliferation (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000)
  • The Victorian soldier in Africa (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004)
  • The Scottish Soldier and Empire, 1854-1902 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006)
  • I have also written 23 chapters and 18 articles in peer-reviewed journals

I have secured 12 British Academy small research grants, an AHRC Research Leave award a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, a Scouloudi Foundation award, and awards from the University of Alberta, the University of Leeds, the British Commission for Military Historians, the Canadian High Commission and United States Information Service.

Postgraduate Supervision

I can offer supervision in the following areas:

  • British army and society, the British army on campaign and the Scottish soldier in imperial warfare during the nineteenth century.
  • Chemical and biological warfare in Europe, the Middle East and East Asia in twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Former students

  • Mark Gjessing, 'Anglo-Australian Naval Relations and Cooperation, 1945-1975' (PhD)
  • Anthony Dawson, 'External Perceptions of the French Crimean Army' (MA by Research)

Recent students

  • Andrew Bamford, 'The British army on campaign, 1808-1815: manpower, cohesion and effectiveness' (PhD)
  • Lee Bruce, 'An Analysis of British strategy in Northern Ireland, August 1971-June 1974' (MA by Research, 2006). He now works with the Forestry Commission.
  • Simon J. Ward, 'Anglo-American Relations in Connection with the Application and Early Membership of the European Economic Community, 1969-1975' (MA by Research, 2006)
  • Lorna Waddington, 'Conspiracy: Ideology, Diplomacy and Propaganda in Hitler's Crusade Against International Bolshevism, 1919-43', (PhD, 2005). She is now a Lecturer at the University of Leeds
  • Kevin Linch 'The Recruitment of the British Army, 1807-1815' (PhD, 2001). He is now a Teaching Fellow at the University of Leeds
  • Rachel Burgess, 'The French Defence Debate: Consensus and Continuity in the Mitterrand Era' (PhD, 1998)  She is now a Lecturer at the University of Leeds


Undergraduate Modules

Contemporary International Politics since 1960

Chemical and Biological Warfare, 1915-45: this module examines the early employment of these forms of warfare and the attempts to address the challenges posed by them through disarmament and deterrence*

Postgraduate Module

Theory & Practice of Limited War (HIST 5819)*

* these modules are currently not running due to my duties as the Faculty of Arts Pro-Dean for Research

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