Ian Shields OBE

Associate Lecturer in International Relations

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences

Department:Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Politics and international relations

Courses taught: International Relations, Criminology, Criminology, Public Service, Public Service (Top-Up)

Ian is a specialist in the International Order, particularly from a Security viewpoint; prior to academia he enjoyed a 32-year RAF career as an aviator and senior leader, reaching the rank of Group Captain.

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In the RAF Ian was a navigator, initially on the Vulcan bomber but later on the Hercules transport aircraft. He commanded a front-line squadron and saw service in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan among other places. He entered an academic stream towards the end of his career, gaining two master’s degrees, and ended his career in an MoD think-tank looking forward 40 years to gauge security threats broadly, and the roles of air and space power in particular.

Since leaving the RAF he has lectured at a number of UK Universities in the fields of International Relations and Security, and presently is the coordinator for the MA in International Relations at Anglia Ruskin University, where he also lectures in Criminology and Working in the Public Services. He maintains his MoD links, and has written for both MoD and wider, defence publications.

Ian’s prime research area is the relationship between the Government and the Media over the use of military force, but he is also researching the International Order and challenges it is facing, as well as broader issues within the International Relations and Security fields.

Areas of research supervision

PhD Supervisor: the role of masculinity within the UK’s Armed Forces

PhD Supervisor: the symbiotic nature of the Government/Media relationship in the USA


Having helped establish the MA in International Relations at ARU, Ian continues to deliver modules on Conflict and Communication and on War, Peacekeeping and Military Intervention, as well as continuing to help develop the degree. He also delivers modules on Leadership and on Terror as a Crime.


  • MA in War Studies, King’s College London
  • MPhil in International Relations, Queens’ College Cambridge
  • Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) 

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

Media experience

Ian has extensive experience of working with the Media, both during his Service career, but particularly more recently.  He regularly comments on breaking news stories with international security implications, and on stories that impact military establishments in East Anglia.  He has appeared on BBC News, BBC local radio, various commercial radio stations both in the UK and overseas, and in print for regional and international news, including CNN and NBC News.