Alumni Stories: Dr Ash Rossiter

This series of posts looks at what our former students do after they graduate in History at the University of Gloucestershire. It demonstrates the various types of employment and further study they can go into. It provides useful guides for existing students, but also highlights the fascinating journeys of our graduates. The next story goes a bit further back with Dr Ash Rossiter (Class of 2003). If you’re an alumni and would like to add your story, please contact

I am Dr Ash Rossiter, an Assistant Professor of International Security at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi and a proud graduate of the history program at the University of Gloucestershire (or St Paul’s College, Cheltenham, as my friends from my undergraduate days affectionately call the institution). I was delighted when members of the current history faculty asked me to write a few words about my time on the history program, which started in 2000 after a disastrous first year studying geology and geography – the less I write about the academic year 1999-2000 the better for everyone.

Dr Rossiter on the far right at a recent conference at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico.

Let me first say something about what it is I do today and then work backwards, showing how my time in Cheltenham studying history was instrumental to everything that came thereafter.

Today, I research and teach International Relations at its bloodier edges, with a particular interest in the generation and use of military force, technology & international security, defence policy, strategic thought, security issues in the Middle East, and lately the question of international security in the Indo-Pacific. More broadly, I’m a sort of drifter between history and international relations, in grand strategy and diplomatic history, the way nations and their governments strive to survive in an anarchic world, how they rise and fall, how they think about force as a tool of policy. This omnivorous approach – often advised against by mentors past and present – is reflected in my recent academic publications, which include a paper on the Indian defence industry, a forthcoming book (Routledge, November 2020) on Robotics, Autonomous Systems and Warfare, and a monograph published in June this year with Cambridge University Press on British policy in the Arabian Gulf before 1971.

Front and rear cover from Ash’s book

When I joined history program in 2000, I had no aspirations of pursuing an academic career of any sorts. Instead, I planned to take a commission in the army as an infantry officer. But something happened to me on the history program at UoG. It was not so much learning new information or gaining fresh perspectives about the past that produced such a strong reaction in me towards the field; it was more the feeling – a feeling I felt for the first time on the course – that I could be a generator of knowledge. More precisely, I can trace this burgeoning love affair with history to a short study I did using primary sources on the restoration of the Pittville Pump Rooms which were requisition for military use and damaged during WWII.

After completing the history degree, I went on to take an MA in War Studies at King’s College London and then later, after a decade working across the Middle East in a range of roles, I undertook a PhD at the University of Exeter. The history degree was a tremendous foundation not only for all my academic pursuits that came thereafter; the analytical and evaluating skills I developed through the study of the past proved indispensable in all of the public and private positions I served in before entering academia. I can say without any fear of contradiction that a history degree at the University of Gloucestershire is an exceptionally good way to prepare one’s self for the challenges of the future, irrespective of ultimate career path.

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