Prof. Ben O'Loughlin

Professor of International Relations and Director of the New Political Communication

About Prof. O'Loughlin...

Prof. O'Loughlin is co-editor of the Sage journal "Media, War & Conflict'.

Ben O’Loughlin is Professor of International Relations and Director of the New Political Communication Unit at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is co-editor of the Sage journal Media, War & Conflict. He was Specialist Advisor to the UK Parliament’s Select Committee on Soft Power, producing the report Power and Persuasion in the Modern World. Prof. O’Loughlin has published seven books and guided a new cohort of young researchers to PhDs and jobs in policy, academia, and digital media. 

After conducting a series of empirical projects on war, terrorism and communication, Prof. O’Loughlin’s research has taken two directions. First, he studies digital politics — how power and participation change as technology develops. Second, he studies strategic narrative — how political actors in international relations use narrative to direct how others experience the direction politics is taking and how those others contest or accept this. 

Prof. O’Loughlin is currently completing a book on narrative diplomacy and the 2015 Iran peace deal. He also has a number of projects gathering data on how climate diplomacy is being used to recast how global order will function in international relations for generations to come.  

Institutional Affiliations



Thinker in Residence

Invited to make policy recommendations on 'Disinformation and Democracy'.


Multiple locations

Invited scholar

- Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
- The Institute of Advanced Studies at University of Bologna, Italy
- The University of Canterbury, New Zealand)


Select project for brief description

Through focus groups, a national survey, and analysis of policy elite statements at global summits, Ben is exploring how climate is being used in two ways. First, for young people in the UK, climate is one of a number of security problems and one they find hard to prioritise within broader ‘cycles of insecurity’ they feel trapped by. Second, for policy elites, climate is a theme that can be used to restructure how global order will function in 2030 and 2050. Security and economy are being re-ordered. This research will show how ordinary people’s concerns are connected to a great game about the very ontology of international relations. 

Ben has been part of a series of projects since 2016 examining how citizens, media and policymakers in Ukraine and the Baltic states bridge the competing narratives of the EU and Russia. This is very urgent given concerns about European disintegration and threats to liberal international order. 

Working with Marie Gillespie at the Open University, Ben has been using a model of cultural value to explore how people assign worth to different aspects of international engagements they encounter, whether through public diplomacy, cultural relations, or media engagement.  

Ben has conducted several studies that show a good proportion of social media users knowingly and willingly share information that is false. With Andrew Chadwick and Cristian Vaccari he found this to be the case in election periods. With Sofia Collignon he has found this to happen even more when information is about climate change. This poses a moral, legal and technical problem for political communication. 



Maltby, S., O’Loughlin, B., Parry, K., & Roselle, L. (Eds.). (2020). Spaces of War, War of Spaces. London: Bloomsbury.

Miskimmon, A., O’Loughlin, B., & Zeng, J. (Eds.). (2020). One Belt, One Road, One Story?: Towards an EU-China Strategic Narrative. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Miskimmon, A., O’Loughlin, B., & Roselle, L. (Eds.). (2017). Forging the World: Strategic Narratives and International Relations. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Miskimmon, A., O’Loughlin, B., & Roselle, L. (2013). Strategic narratives: Communication power and the new world order. New York: Routledge.

Awan, A. N., Hoskins, A., & O’Loughlin, B. (2009). Radicalisation and media: Connectivity and terrorism in the new media ecology. London: Routledge.

Hoskins, A., & O’Loughlin, B. (2010). War and media: The emergence of diffused war. Cambridge: Polity.

Hoskins, A., & O’Loughlin, B. (2007). Television and terror: Conflicting times and the crisis of news discourse. Basingstoke: Palgrave.