skip to content

Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


This annual lecture takes place in memory of Sir Francis Harry Hinsley (1918–1998), the Founding Director of the Centre of International Studies (1975–1987) which is now part of the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). He was a student and later Master of St John’s College (1979–1989) and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge (1981–1983). 

Harry Hinsley worked as a cryptanalyst at Bletchley Park during the Second World War and was a leading figure in the history of international relations. St John's College hosts the Hinsley Memorial Lecture on an international relations topic usually in Michaelmas Term each year.


Former Speakers

  • 2019 - Sir Richard Dearlove, The Secret Intelligence Service and its History
  • 2018 - Dr Nathalie Tocci, Academia and Practice in European foreign policy: What can we learn from each other?
  • 2017 - Professor Nigel Biggar,  After Iraq: When to Go to War?
  • 2016Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Treating Terrorism
  • 2015 - General Sir Mike Jackson, General Reflections: a look at UK defence in an era of Middle East turmoil, an adventurist Russia and a burgeoning refugee crisis in Europe
  • 2014 - Professor Timothy Garton Ash, “Internetional Relations”: The Struggle for Power Over the Internet in a Post-American World
  • 2013 - Professor Stephen Walt, Follies and Fiascos: Why US Foreign Policy Keeps Failing
  • 2012 - Dr Fraser Cameron, Power and the Pursuit of Peace – An EU Dream or Illusion?
  • 2011 - Sir Bryan Cartledge, The death of diplomacy?
  • 2010 - The Rt Hon The Lord David Trimble, Lessons from Northern Ireland
  • 2009 - Professor Ian Clark, Can there be a single great power?
  • 2008 - Professor Paul Kennedy, Allied Intelligence and the “Front End” of War, 1939-1945
  • 2007 - Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, Intelligence failure and the logic of conflict
  • 2005 - Professor Peter Hennessy, The last customer: British intelligence and the British historian
  • 2003 - Sir Stephen Lander, International intelligence co-operation: a modern perspective
  • 2002 - Dr Daniel Yergin, The age of globality
  • 2001 - Lord Healey, The new world disorder
  • 2000 - Professor Adam Roberts, The so-called right of humanitarian intervention
  • 1999 - Lord Hurd, The claims of justice in the making of foreign policy