Dr Rory Cox

Dr Rory Cox

BA., (Hons), MA.,(London), D.Phil., (Oxon), FRHistS - Lecturer

Contact Details

E-mail - rwscc@st-andrews.ac.uk
Telephone - +44 (0)1334 463316
Fax - +44 (0)1334 463334

Research Profile on Research@StAndrews


Teaching and Research Interests

My research engages with the ethics of war, violence, and political theory. I am particularly interested in interdisciplinary approaches, and have focused on the relationship between the just war tradition and applications of violence. Increasingly, I am motivated by tracing connections between pre-modern ethics and contemporary ethical and politico-military challenges.

My publications have explored ideas of justifiable self-defence, asymmetric warfare, non-combatant immunity, ancient ethics of war, and torture. My monograph, John Wyclif on War and Peace (2014), argues that the fourteenth-century English scholastic, John Wyclif, rejected medieval just war doctrine and was Europe’s first pacifist.

I am currently working on an exciting new book project, Justifying War, which will be published by Princeton University Press. This research combines comparative history with normative thought, examining how ancient societies in the Near East and West tackled the relationship between war and justice, reflecting on what this can tell us about contemporary challenges.

I have a number of forthcoming publications in journals and edited volumes (below).

From August 2017 to July 2018 I was Visiting Humanities Collaboration Research Fellow at the California Institute of Technology and the The Huntington Library.

In 2016, I was appointed as a Visiting Wallenberg Research Fellow at the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace.

I am an Associate Director of the St Andrews Institute of Intellectual History.

I am a founding co-editor of the Routledge journal Global Intellectual History.

Here I discuss just war doctrine with Dan Snow:


And some thoughts about U.K. involvement in the war against ISIS:

Main Publications

  • Books
  • Justifying War (Princeton University Press, forthcoming)
  • John Wyclif on War and Peace, Royal Historical Society Studies in History xc (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2014).
  • Journals and Chapters
  • 'Historicizing Waterboarding as a Severe Torture Norm', International Relations (in press, 2018).
  • 'The Ethics of War up to Thomas Aquinas', in The Oxford Handbook of Ethics and War, ed. Seth Lazar and Helen Frowe (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), pp. 99-121.
  • 'Gratian', in Just War Thinkers, ed. Cian O'Driscoll and Daniel Brunstetter (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2017), pp. 34-49.
  • 'Expanding the History of the Just War: The Ethics of War in Ancient Egypt', International Studies Quarterly 61 (2) (2017): 371-384.
  • 'A Law of War? English Protection and Destruction of Ecclesiastical Property during the Fourteenth Century', The English Historical Review 38 (1) (2012): 100-125.
  • ‘Asymmetric Warfare and Military Conduct in the Middle Ages’, Journal of Medieval History 38 (2012): 100-125.
  • ‘Natural Law and the Right of Self-Defence According to John of Legnano and John Wyclif,’ in Fourteenth-Century England VI, ed. C. Given-Wilson (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2010), pp. 149-69.
  • Articles
  • 'The Military Response to ISIS: a historical perspective', History Today Online (December 2015).
  • ‘Wyclif: Medieval Pacifist’, History Today (August 2010): 25-7.

Forthcoming Publications

  • ‘Religion and the Hundred Years War’, in The Hundred Years War Revisited: Problems in Focus, ed. Anne Curry (forthcoming 2019).
  • 'History, Terrorism and the State', in The Cambridge History of Terrorism, ed. Richard English (Cambridge University Press).

Teaching Duties

Dr Cox is on research leave 2018-19 (semester 1)

Dr Cox teaches on ME1006, ME2003 and HI2001 sub honours courses and offers the following honours courses;
Medieval Political Thought
Justifying Medieval Warfare
England and France at War in the Fourteenth Century
Nature and the Occult in the Late Middle Ages

Also teaches on the Mediaeval Studies M. Litt. and Intellectual History M.Litt programmes.

MS5001 - Approaches to Mediaeval Studies 
IH5003 – The Theory and Practice of Intellectual History
IH5002 – Turning Points in the History of Ideas

Research Students

Current Research Students:

Jiazhu Hu, Voices of Medieval English Towns 1300-1500
Rory MacLellan, Patronage of the Knights Hospitaller in the British Isles, c.1300-1400

I am happy to supervise students undertaking research in the following areas:

  • Ethics of War.
  • Medieval Intellectual History and Political Thought.
  • European military history.
  • Interdisciplinary approaches, pre-modern history and international relations.