Prof Simon Ball

Prof Simon Ball


I was appointed to the University’s Chair of International History & Politics in 2012. Previously I was Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Glasgow.


  • Academic Integrity Lead, School of History

Research interests


My research has concentrated on five interrelated themes: the Cold War; the Second World War; British politics, assassination in international politics; and secret intelligence in the twentieth century. I have edited War in History. I sit on the editorial boards of Intelligence & National Security and Diplomacy & Statecraft.  


I am the author of a number of books including:

  • Secret History: Writing the Rise of Britain’s Intelligence Services (Montreal: MQUP, 2020).
  • Alamein (Oxford: OUP, 2016, reprinted The Folio Society, 2022).
  • The Bitter Sea: The Struggle for Mastery in the Mediterranean, 1935–1949 (London: Harper Press, 2009).
  • The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends, and the World They Made (London: HarperCollins, 2004).
  • The Cold War: An International History 1947–1991 (London: Arnold & New York: OUP, 1998, reprinted Bloomsbury USA, 2009).
  • The Bomber in British Strategy: Doctrine, Strategy and Britain’s World Role, 1945–1960 (Boulder, Co. and Oxford: Westview, 1995, reprinted Routledge, 2022). 

Research Projects

AHRC, Cultures of Intelligence. The project deepened our understanding of the mid-twentieth century intelligence services in Britain by going beyond the institutional history of particular intelligence services and explaining the overarching culture of intelligence. Britain was placed in comparative perspective through formal co-operation with a parallel project Kulturen der “Intelligence”. funded by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, Dusseldorf. The project partner was the German Historical Institute, London. 

AHRC, The Practice of International History in the 21st Century (PIH21). An AHRC international network that surfaced the underlying practice-based conceptual framework of international history in the contemporary era. The project partner was the Chief Historian, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

External Collaboration


I sat on the International Board (Beirat) of the AlliiertenMuseum, Berlin. The museum was created by the government of the Federal Republic to mark the end of the post-war occupation regime in Berlin.


I work regularly with media producers. Recent projects include Secrets of Spies: Assassination 


<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>


  • MA (Oxon.)
  • PhD (Cantab.)

Student education

International History and Politics

Since 1967 the holder of the Chair of International History and Politics has been the senior faculty member for a specialised undergraduate degree programme. International History and Politics (IHP) remains a highly successful history degree at Leeds.

PhD Supervision

I have supervised over twenty doctorates to successful completion.

White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities

I was the inaugural chairman of the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH) History Subject Panel. WRoCAH is the Collaborative Doctoral Training Partnership of the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. Its studentships are funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Research groups and institutes

  • War Studies
  • Empires and Aftermath
  • Politics, Diplomacy, and International History

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="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>