Dr Brian Phillips

Reader (R)
Department of Government
Dr Brian Phillips
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 873504

  • Location

    5.006, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    Tuesday 1-3pm in my office, 5.006. Or by appointment.



My research focuses mostly on organizational dynamics of terrorism, civil conflict, and crime. You can find my work in the Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, and other journals. My book "Insurgent Terrorism: Intergroup Relationships and the Killing of Civilians," co-authored with Victor Asal and R. Karl Rethemeyer, was published by Oxford University Press. I am an associate editor of International Studies Quarterly and on the editorial boards of Terrorism and Political Violence and Perspectives on Terrorism. I am also an affiliated professor at CIDE in Mexico City, where I previously worked for eight years. Projects I have worked on have been funded by the U.K. Economic and Social Research Council, the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Mexican Presidency, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. My research has been discussed in The New York Times, El País, The Guardian, and other outlets. Before university, I was enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps infantry for four years.

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Civil conflict

Open to supervise


Open to supervise

Organised crime

Open to supervise

Conferences and presentations

Invited talk at START center, University of Maryland

Invited presentation, START terrorism center talk series, University of Maryland, 23/2/2022

Invited talk at the University of Maryland START Center

Invited presentation, START terrorism center talk series, University of Maryland, START Center, College Park, United States, 3/2/2021

Invited talk at the University of Glasgow

Invited presentation, Invited talk at the University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom, 13/11/2019

Invited talk at University of Oxford

Invited presentation, Department of Politics and International Relations IR Speaker Series, IR Speaker Series, Oxford, United Kingdom, 17/10/2019

Invited talk at International Institute for Strategic Studies, London

Invited presentation, How Does Leadership Targeting Affect Militant Groups?, London, United Kingdom, 18/6/2019

Invited workshop at University of Warwick

Invited presentation, Facets of Political Violence and Peacebuilding, Coventry, United Kingdom, 4/5/2019

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Violent Non State Actors: Violence, Crime and Conflict (GV211)

  • Theories of International Relations (GV902)

  • Insurgents, Criminals and Terrorists (GV944)

  • Doctoral Research Seminar in International Relations (GV970)

  • Professional Development Seminar (GV994)

Previous supervision

Blair Joseph Welsh
Blair Joseph Welsh
Thesis title: Terrorist Hostage-Taking in Civil War
Degree subject: Government
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 2/11/2023
Yun Jung Yang
Yun Jung Yang
Degree subject: Government
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 22/12/2022


Journal articles (25)

Phillips, B., (2023). How did 9/11 affect terrorism research? Examining articles and authors, 1970-2019. Terrorism and Political Violence. 35 (2), 409-432

Garriga, AC. and Phillips, B., (2023). Organized crime and foreign direct investment: Evidence from criminal groups in Mexico. Journal of Conflict Resolution. 67 (9), 1675-1703

Phillips, BJ. and Schiele, A., (2023). Dogs and Cats Living Together? Explaining the Crime-Terror Nexus. Terrorism and Political Violence, 1-17

Conrad, J., Greene, KT. and Phillips, BJ., (2023). Introducing ViNSAR: Dyadic Data on Violent Non-State Actor Rivalry. Journal of Conflict Resolution

Phillips, B. and Greene, KT., (2022). Where is conflict research? Western bias in the literature on armed violence. International Studies Review. 24 (3)

Conrad, J., Greene, K., Phillips, B. and Daly, S., (2021). Competition from Within: Ethnicity, Power, and Militant Group Rivalry. Defence and Peace Economics. 32 (6), 757-772

El Masri, M. and Phillips, B., (2021). Threat Perception, Policy Diffusion, and the Logic of Terrorist Group Designation. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 1-24

Phillips, BJ. and Ríos, V., (2020). Narco-Messages: Competition and Public Communication by Criminal Groups. Latin American Politics and Society. 62 (1), 1-24

Phillips, BJ., (2019). Terrorist Group Rivalries and Alliances: Testing Competing Explanations. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. 42 (11), 997-1019

Phillips, BJ., (2019). Do 90 Percent of Terrorist Groups Last Less than a Year? Updating the Conventional Wisdom. Terrorism and Political Violence. 31 (6), 1255-1265

Asal, V., Phillips, BJ., Rethemeyer, RK., Simonelli, C. and Young, JK., (2019). Carrots, Sticks, and Insurgent Targeting of Civilians. Journal of Conflict Resolution. 63 (7), 1710-1735

Phillips, BJ., (2019). Foreign Terrorist Organization designation, international cooperation, and terrorism. International Interactions. 45 (2), 316-343

Asal, V. and Phillips, BJ., (2018). What explains ethnic organizational violence? Evidence from Eastern Europe and Russia. Conflict Management and Peace Science. 35 (2), 111-131

Phillips, BJ., (2018). Terrorist Tactics by Criminal Organizations: The Mexican Case in Context. Perspectives on Terrorism. 12 (1), 46-58

Phillips, BJ., (2017). Inequality and the Emergence of Vigilante Organizations: The Case of Mexican Autodefensas. Comparative Political Studies. 50 (10), 1358-1389

Phillips, BJ., (2017). Deadlier in the U.S.? On Lone Wolves, Terrorist Groups, and Attack Lethality. Terrorism and Political Violence. 29 (3), 533-549

Phillips, BJ., (2016). ¿Qué explica la supervivencia de los grupos terroristas? Alianzas y competencia. Revista CIDOB d' Afers Internacionals. 2016 (112), 99-126

Phillips, BJ., (2015). Civil war, spillover and neighbors’ military spending. Conflict Management and Peace Science. 32 (4), 425-442

Phillips, BJ., (2015). How Does Leadership Decapitation Affect Violence? The Case of Drug Trafficking Organizations in Mexico. The Journal of Politics. 77 (2), 324-336

Phillips, BJ., (2015). Enemies with benefits? Violent rivalry and terrorist group longevity. Journal of Peace Research. 52 (1), 62-75

Phillips, BJ., (2015). What Is a Terrorist Group? Conceptual Issues and Empirical Implications. Terrorism and Political Violence. 27 (2), 225-242

Phillips, BJ., (2014). Terrorist Group Cooperation and Longevity. International Studies Quarterly. 58 (2), 336-347

Garriga, AC. and Phillips, BJ., (2014). Foreign Aid as a Signal to Investors: Predicting FDI in Post-conflict Countries. Journal of Conflict Resolution. 58 (2), 280-306

Asal, V., Deloughery, K. and Phillips, BJ., (2012). When Politicians Sell Drugs: Examining Why Middle East Ethnopolitical Organizations Are Involved in the Drug Trade. Terrorism and Political Violence. 24 (2), 199-212

Savun, B. and Phillips, BJ., (2009). Democracy, Foreign Policy, and Terrorism. Journal of Conflict Resolution. 53 (6), 878-904

Books (1)

Asal, V., Phillips, BJ. and Rethemeyer, RK., (2022). Insurgent Terrorism: Intergroup Relationships and the Killing of Civilians. Oxford University Press, USA. 0197607063. 9780197607060

Book chapters (4)

Conrad, J., Greene, KT., Phillips, BJ. and Daly, S., (2023). Competition from Within. In: On Terrorist Groups. Routledge. 121- 136

Jo, H., Phillips, B. and Alley, J., (2020). Can Blacklisting Reduce Terrorist Attacks?. In: The Power of Global Performance Indicators. Editors: Kelley, J. and Simmons, B., . Cambridge University Press. 271- 299. 9781108763493

Phillips, BJ., (2019). Terrorist Organizational Dynamics. In: The Oxford Handbook of Terrorism. Editors: Chenoweth, E., English, R., Gofas, A. and Kalyvas, S., . Oxford University Press. 385- 400. 9780198732914

Phillips, BJ., (2018). Terrorist group survival as a measure of effectiveness. In: When Does Terrorism Work?. Editors: Muro, D., . Routledge. 52- 70. 9781315648422

Grants and funding


Multilingualism, Conflict and Conflict Resolution in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities of Practiced Linguistic Diversity

Economic and Social Research Council


Forced Disappearances in Mexico

University of Essex (GCRF)

Forced Disappearances in Mexico

University of Essex (GCRF)

+44 (0) 1206 873504


5.006, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

Tuesday 1-3pm in my office, 5.006. Or by appointment.

More about me