Clare College Cambridge

Mr Stephen Jolly

Mr Stephen Jolly


Fellow, Judge Business School
Senior Research Fellow, Defence Academy
Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Department of War Studies at King's College London

Stephen Jolly MA (Cantab), MA (Sussex) has been a member of the Fellowship since 2005. Between 2005-13, he was a member of the Vice-Chancellor's Office and served as the University's Director of External Affairs & Communications.  He has been a Fellow of the Judge Business School since 2010. 

Stephen served as the UK's Director of Defence Communications, based in the Ministry of Defence, until 2015. A two-star appointee, he oversaw all communications for the Ministry, the three Armed Forces and their operations, for the UK Defence Agencies and Joint Organisations.  He reported jointly to the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Defence and the Chief of Defence Staff.

In his two years in post, Jolly made waves in military circles by driving forward a "full spectrum" approach to Defence communications, encompassing public relations, media operations, information operations and psyops. Defence commentators dubbed this "post-Afghan reset" of communications the "Rainbow in the Dark" doctrine. It was an approach that entailed the most radical shake-up in British Defence communications in more than thirty years.

Jolly served as Chairman of the cross-government National Security Communications Committee in 2014-5 and was a member of the Government Communications Board during that period.

Jolly was seconded briefly to Cabinet Office in 2015 before joining the Defence Academy, Shrivenham as its Senior Research Fellow in Military Information Operations.

Stephen holds First Class Honours in English from Christ's College, Cambridge (1980-84) and a Master's in Linguistic Science from the University of Sussex (1986-87).  He has held Fellowships at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (1987-88) and at King's College, London (1999-2001).

Stephen was formerly an instructor on the Military Information Support Operations Course at the UK's Defence Intelligence & Security School, Chicksands (1997-2001).  In that capacity, he held a Visiting Fellowship in Psychological Warfare at the International Centre for Security Analysis, King’s College, London between 1999-2001.

Stephen has an academic interest in rhetoric and the history of the persuasive arts, with a particular emphasis on propaganda.  He is a Fellow and former Vice-President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (FCIPR).

Stephen was recently featured in edition 31 of Clare News

Main Publications:

"Who's Afraid of Viktor Shklovsky? On The Nature of Persuasion and the Work of an Unjustly Neglected Russian Formalist", Impact: The Magazine of the Association of Commonwealth Universities PR, Marketing and Communications Network, No 11, (August 2011) Crimes of Coercive Persuasion: Rectification under the Khmer Rouge, Falling Leaf: The Journal of the Psywar Society, 173, 52-55 (2001)

Ungentlemanly Warfare: A Reassessment of British Black Propaganda Operations 1941-1945, Falling Leaf: The Journal of the Psywar Society, 171, 148-156; 172, 23-37 (2001)

From SOB to I/OPs: The Unwritten History of British Black Propaganda 1947-97, Falling Leaf: The Journal of the Psywar Society, 171, 130-134 (2001)

The Mardin Essay: Psychological Warfare and Public Relations, Frontline: The Global Public Relations Quarterly, 22 (4), 22-30 (2000)

Wearing the Stag's Head Badge: British Combat Propaganda since 1945, Falling Leaf: The Journal of the Psywar Society, 170, 86-89 (2000)

Morale Operations: The Cinderella of Covert Propaganda Operations?, Falling Leaf: The Journal of the Psywar Society, 170, 114-116 (2000)

Understanding Body Language: Birdwhistell's Theory of Kinesics, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 5 (3), 133-139 (2000)

Delmer's Maxims of Subversion: British Black Propaganda Techniques in WW2, Falling Leaf: The Journal of the Psywar Society, 169, 64-70 (2000)

Text or Context: Östman's Theory of Persuasion, The Journal of Communication Management, 4 (2), 159-163 (1999)

Corporate Advocacy in Public Affairs: Winning a Voice in the Marketplace of Ideas, International Public Relations Review, 21 (3), 10-13 (1999)