Dr Jonathan Boff FRHistS

Dr Jonathan Boff

Department of History
Reader in Modern History

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

As a historian, I am primarily interested in how institutions and individuals respond to the challenges of war. I believe that this is best studied using an approach which is both comparative and cross-disciplinary.


  • PhD War Studies, King’s College London 
  • MA History of Warfare, King’s College London 
  • BA PPE, Merton College, Oxford University


I joined the University of Birmingham in September 2011 after completing my PhD at King’s College London. Before returning to academia in 2005 I spent twenty years working in the private sector, much of the time in Asia.



  • First Year: Practising History
  • Second Year Core: Introduction to Strategy and Operational Art 
  • Second Year Option: Britain and the Second World War 
  • Second Year Option: Britain and France at War, 1793-1815
  • Third Year Core: Writing the History of War 
  • Third Year Option: Warfare at Sea from the Armada to D-Day 
  • Third Year Special Subject: The British Army on the Western Front 
  • Third Year Special Subject: The Weary Titan: Britain, her Empire and the World, 1897-1919


  • Convenor: MA First World War Studies
  • Convenor: MA Second World War Studies
  • Convenor: MA Military History by distance learning
  • Modules taught: Research Skills; Higher Direction of the War; Experience of the War

Postgraduate supervision

I am happy to supervise projects on the military history of the two world wars, on British strategy from Gladstone to Churchill, and on morale and combat motivation. I am particularly keen to encourage projects with a comparative/international dimension.

Current projects I am supervising include:

  • Aimee Fox-Godden, 'Inter-Theatre Learning in the British Army during the First World War'
  • Andrew Duncan, 'The Training and Ethos of British Officers before the First World War'
  • Nick Beeching, 'Worcester and the Worcestershire regiment, 1914-18 

Find out more - our PhD History  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My current research focuses on the British and German armies and the development of modern warfare, 1914-1945, and on the connection between morale and military effectiveness.

I am working on a book for Oxford University Press on the Western Front, 1914-18, as seen through the eyes of one of the most senior German generals, Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria.

In addition, I am working on British military attitudes to the use of extreme violence in the first half of the twentieth century, and on the role of materialism in causing wars.  

Other activities


Authored Books

Edited Collections

  • (co-edited with Professor William Philpott) Mastering the Industrial Battlefield: Military Transformation on the Western Front, 1914-18 (Routledge, 2018) 



  • Military Structures and Ranks, British Library Online
  • Training to be a Soldier, British Library Online
  • How did WW1 most change life for women? BBC guides
  • Why did so many men keep fighting?, Daily Telegraph, 30 May 2014
  • The Morale Maze: the German Army in late 1918. Journal of Strategic Studies 37:6-7 (2014), pp. 855-78 
  • Logistics during the Hundred Days Campaign, 1918: British Third Army, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research February 2012 
  • Combined Arms during the Hundred Days Campaign, August - November 1918, War in History 17:4 November 2010 
  • Air/Land Integration in the 100 Days, Air Power Review 12:3, Autumn 2009

View all publications in research portal



  • Armed forces policy
  • Commemoration
  • Military archives