Professor Philip Murphy

Contact details

Professor Philip Murphy
BA & DPhil (Oxford)
Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies; Professor of British and Commonwealth History; Joint editor, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Senate House Malet Street London WC1E 7HU
020 7862 8841
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Colonies & Colonization, emigration & immigration, Contemporary History, International Relations, Modern History
Africa, Europe
Summary of research interests and expertise:

Twentieth-century British and Commonwealth history, including aspects of post-war British decolonization particularly in Africa, and post-war African politics.
Forthcoming book about the British Monarchy and the Post-War Commonwealth for Oxford University Press.
Also an interest in the Conservative party, right wing politics in Britain, and the European colonial empires since the nineteenth century.
Intelligence History, MI5 (the Security Service) in the colonial Empire, and the activities of the British, Commonwealth and US intelligence communities in the twentieth century.

Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
19-Apr-2018 The Empire’s New Clothes: The Myth of the Commonwealth


 Published by Hurst, ISBN: 9781849049467 296pp

01-Mar-2015 Acceptable Levels? The Use and Threat of Violence in the Decolonization of British Central Africa, 1953-1965


Bandeira Jerónimo, M. , Costa Pinto, A. (eds.) (2015) The Ends of European Colonial Empires: Cases and Comparisons, Palgrave MacMillan, ISBN 9781137394057

06-Dec-2013 Monarchy and the End of Empire: The House of Windsor, the British Government and the Postwar Commonwealth


Oxford University Press

01-Jan-2012 ‘Britain as a Great Power in the Twentieth Century’


In Andrew Thompson (ed), Britain's Experience of Empire in the Twentieth Century: Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series (Oxford, OUP, 2012), pp. 33-75.

01-Jan-2012 The Queen and the Commonwealth


Jones-Parry R. and Robertson A. (eds) The Commonwealth Yearbook 2012. Nexus/Commonwealth Secretariat, pp. 172-3

01-Jan-2011 Britain and the Commonwealth: Confronting the Past - Imagining the Future


The Round Table 100 (414), pp. 267-283

21-Nov-2010 ‘South African intelligence, the Wilson Plot and post-Imperial trauma’ in Patrick Major and Christopher R Moran (eds), Spooked: Britain, Empire and Intelligence since 1945

Cambridge Scholars Press

01-Jan-2010 ‘A Police State? The Nyasaland Emergency and Colonial Intelligence’


Journal of Southern African Studies, 36 (4), (Dec. 2010), pp. 765-780.

01-Jan-2010 Review of several books

International History Review, 31/4, pp. 890-893

01-Dec-2009 Review article covering several books

Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 37/4

01-Jan-2009 Review of Christopher Andrew, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (2009)

Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 38/2, pp. 340-44

01-Jan-2009 Review of the Daily Telegraph Book of Imperial and Commonwealth Obituaries (2009)

Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 38/1, pp. 157-8

01-Jan-2009 The Commonwealth at 60. A Success Story?

Global: the International Briefing

01-Jan-2005 British Documents on the End of Empire: Central Africa

London, Stationery Office: Part I, cxxviii + 448 pp, ISBN 0112905862; Part II, xl + 602 pp, ISBN 0112905870

01-Jan-2001 ‘Intelligence and Decolonization: The Life and Death of the Federal Intelligence and Security Bureau, 1954-63’


The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 29 (2), (May 2001), pp. 101-130

01-Jan-1999 Alan Lennox-Boyd: A Biography


London, I.B.Tauris, 1999, xi + 276pp.

01-Jan-1995 Party Politics and Decolonization: The Conservative Party and British Colonial Policy in Tropical Africa 1951-1964

Oxford, Oxford University Press: xii + 259pp

Research Projects & Supervisions

Research projects:

An Oral History of the Modern Commonwealth, 1965-2010

Philip Murphy is Principal Investigator on this 3-year AHRC funded research project which commenced in September 2012.

Current PhD topics supervised:

Dates Details
From: 01-Oct-2012
Until: 30-Sep-2015
Placing knowledge in a decolonizing world: the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation and histories of expertise for development

AHRC-funded PhD studentship jointly supervised by Dr Ruth Craggs and supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Professional Affiliations

Professional affiliations:

Name Activity
Colonial and Postcolonial Policing Group member
Commonwealth Democracy Forum member


Name Type Activity Start date End date
Study Group on Intelligence Research and policy-related network bringing together academics and current and former members of the intelligence community Termly meetings at the Royal United Services Institute
Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
28-Aug-2014 British Constitutional Monarchy in the context of the Commonwealth

Workshop on 'Monarchy and Politics' at the Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich

08-Jul-2014 The Queen's Commonwealth: Monarchy and the End of Empire

Gresham College public lecture

02-Jul-2014 The Long Indian Century: Historical transitions and social transformations

Conference at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi

06-May-2014 'The Accidental Intelligence Chief: Bob de Quehen and intelligence liaison in late-colonial Southern Africa'.

University of Warwick conference, ‘Spy Chiefs: Intelligence Leaders in History, Culture and International Relations’, at the Palazzo Pesaro Papafava, Venice

10-Mar-2014 The House of Windsor, the British Government and the Commonwealth

Séminaire Histoire du politique dans les mondes Anglophones, Paris Diderot University

14-Jun-2013 The British monarchy and the Commonwealth’

Lecture at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi

01-Jan-2012 The Headship of the Commonwealth

The Making of a Monarchy for the Modern World, Kensington Palace, 6-8 June 2012

01-Jan-2012 Peddling Gossip or Cheating the Censor? An Intelligence Historian writes about the British Royal Family

The British Scholar 'Britain and the World Conference', University of Edinburgh, 22 June 2012

01-Jan-2012 Religious Freedom in the Commonwealth

Workshop on Relgious Freedom in the Commonwealth organised by the Commonwealth Advisory Bureau. Sponsored and hosted by the Canadian High Commission, London, 22 March 2012.

01-Jan-2012 The Monarchy and Empire and Commonwealth

Interview on the Radio 4 documentary series 'The Art of Monarchy'. Broadcast 24 March 2012.

01-Jan-2012 The Queen and the Commonwealth

Interview on the French radio station Outremer Première, for a documentary entited 'God Save L'Empire?', broadcast 25 June 2012.

01-Jan-2012 The British Empire

Interview on Australian ABC Radio National for Rear View documentary entitled 'The British Empire and What Became of it'. Broadcast 3 June 2012.

01-Jan-2012 The Commonwealth in the World: Resistance, Governance and Change

Université Paris Diderot
Institute of Commonwealth Studies / Commonwealth Advisory Bureau
University of London

19 October 2012, 2 - 4 pm, Institut Charles V, Room A 50

Occasional seminar series
The Commonwealth in the World: Resistance, Governance and Change

Leslie James (London School of Economics)
"Writing anti-imperial solidarity from London:
George Padmore and the strategy of anti-colonial resistance"

Followed by a discussion with
Professor Philip Murphy (Institute of Commonwealth Studies)
Intelligence and British Decolonisation

01-Jan-2011 Invited paper

Conference at the University of Northumbria, 'The American and British Relationship with Africa since 1960', 10 June 2011

01-Jan-2011 The British Monarchy and the Post-War Commonwealth

Paper presented to the University of Cambridge World History Seminar, 10 February 2011

01-Jan-2011 Britain and the Commonwealth: Confronting the Past - Imagining the Future

Inaugural Lecture, Beveridge Hall, Senate House, London, 23 February 2011

01-Jan-2011 '"Unstable and Volatile": British perceptions of African nationalist leaders during the era of decolonization

Conference on British Foreign Policy in Africa since 1957, 25 March 2011

01-Jan-2011 The threat of nationalist violence in British Central Africa, 1953-1965

Convenor, speaker and roundtable panellist at conference on The End of The Portuguese Empire in Comparative Perspective, Institute of Social Sciences – University of Lisbon, 20-21 June 2011

01-Jan-2011 The Commonwealth: A unique institution

Commonwealth Secretariat Induction Programme for Commonwealth Diplomats, Farnham Castle, 6 September 2011

01-Jan-2010 Academic organiser

'Negotiating with the "Enemy": perspectives past and present' Workshop on counterinsurgency organised in conjunction with the Open University, 24 September 2010

01-Jan-2010 The Inaugural Commonwealth Conference: Citizenship in the Commonwealth

Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, UK 10-12 November 2010

01-Jan-2010 The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group

Commonwealth Secretariat Induction Programme for Commonwealth Diplomats, Farnham Castle, 8 September 2010

01-Jan-2009 Invited paper on the Nyasaland Emergency

Open University Conference on Policing and Empire

01-Jan-2009 Invited speaker

Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Conference at Marlborough House

01-Jan-2009 Invited to present paper

Commonwealth History seminar, University of Oxford

Other editing/publishing activities:

Date Details
2012 Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History

Joint editor since October 2007

Consultancy & Media
Media experience:
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