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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Before entering academia Ian spent 32 years in the UK’s Royal Air Force as a navigator, reaching very senior rank.  Prior to taking up his present appointment at Cambridge University he lectured broadly within the International Relations field at, among other universities, SOAS, Birmingham and Anglia Ruskin.


His research interests are broadly concerned with military-government relations.


More specifically, he is interested in why governments still use military force as a tool of policy and how this plays out in the international arena.  The impact of globalization, the declining role of war within international society, the rise of bodies such as the UN and the EU and, perhaps most telling, the increasing role and abilities of technology have not only altered the battlespace, but also the use of organised, state-sponsored violence and he seeks to identify emerging trends and apply these to the fundamental relationship between governments, governance, and militaries.


Key publications: 

  “Where Are The Airpower Strategists?” Air Power Review Vol 11 No 1 pp 1 – 5.

“Military Aviation and the Environment: Why the Military Should Care.”  Sustainable Security, September 2010.

 “The Arctic: A Return to Balance of Power Politics?”

“An Unmanned Future for Naval Aviation: UAV Carriers” (RUSI Journal, Dec 2011, Vol. 156, No. 6) (Co-Authored with James Spencer):

“Europe’s Chequered Security Integration”

“Space and Security” in Hough, Malik, Moran and Pilbeam: International Security Studies: Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2015)

“Could NATO go to war with Russia … and what would happen if it did?”



Teaching and Supervisions


He is primarily a supervisor (but also lectures) for POL3, and supervises on a number of other POL papers, as well as theses at both undergraduate and post-graduate level.


Teaching Associate
 Ian   Shields

Contact Details

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