Professor Philip Murphy is appointed Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Thursday 10 April 2014

The School of Advanced Study, University of London is pleased to announce the appointment of Philip Murphy to a chair in the University and as director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

Professor Murphy is currently Professor of British and Commonwealth History at the University of Reading, seconded as Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. At Reading he was responsible for establishing one of the UK’s first courses on the intelligence community and British politics.

‘The previous five years have been incredibly rewarding’, said Philip Murphy.  ‘I think we have succeeded in demonstrating through a series of major events and research projects how research in the Humanities can have direct benefits for policy makers and for society as a whole.

‘I am particularly looking forward to overseeing the completion of our AHRC-funded project to produce an Oral History of the Modern Commonwealth. There are really exciting opportunities ahead for both the Institute and the School more generally and I am keen to continue to play a part in this important work.’

His major research interest in Intelligence and 20th-century British and Commonwealth history has made Professor Murphy a sought-after expert by the international media. He is regularly consulted as an academic expert and has written extensively on decolonisation and the development of the modern Commonwealth. In a recent Telegraph article, his latest book, Monarchy and the End of the Empire, was described as ‘superbly researched’ and ‘by a country mile the most important and well-informed to have been written about the contemporary British monarchy’.

Professor Murphy’s appointment is welcomed by James Mayall FBA, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the University of Cambridge and Chair of the ICwS Advisory Council. He said: ‘The School of Advanced Study is incredibly fortunate to have secured the services of Professor Murphy on a permanent basis. At a difficult time for Commonwealth studies – and indeed for the Commonwealth itself – he has already done a superb job in steadying the ship and re-establishing the Institute as the world’s leading research centre for the study of the historic and the modern Commonwealth. There is much to look forward to.’

Professor Roger Kain CBE FBA, Dean and Chief Executive of the School and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, is confident Professor Murphy is the right person to continue to lead ICwS: ‘His judgment, wisdom and expertise in Commonwealth studies will ensure the Institute continues to be both at the forefront of innovative research, and an instigator of the liveliest debate.’

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Notes for editors:

1. For further information please contact Dee Burn at the School of Advanced Study, University of London at / 020 7862 8670 (office) / 07808 102 735 (mobile)

2. The Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICwS) is the only postgraduate academic institution in the UK devoted to the study of the Commonwealth. Founded in 1949, its purpose is to promote interdisciplinary and inter-regional research on the Commonwealth and its member nations in the fields of history, politics and other social sciences. Its areas of specialism include international development, governance, human rights, north-south relations and conflict and security. It is also home to the longest running interdisciplinary and practice-oriented human rights MA programme in the UK. The Institute of Commonwealth Studies is a member institute of the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

3. The School of Advanced Study (SAS) at the University of London is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and facilitation of research in the humanities. The School brings together 10 prestigious research institutes to offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. The member institutes of the School are the Institutes of Advanced Legal Studies, Classical Studies, Commonwealth Studies, English Studies, Historical Research, Latin American Studies, Modern Languages Research, Musical Research, Philosophy, and the Warburg Institute. The School also hosts a cross-disciplinary centre, the Human Rights Consortium, dedicated to the facilitation, promotion and dissemination of academic and policy work on human rights.

4. The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in Higher Education. It consists of 18 self-governing Colleges of outstanding reputation, together with a number of prestigious central academic bodies and activities. Learn more about the University of London at