Sean Calvin

Researching the cognitive and behavioural relationships between radicalisation, extremism and terrorism

Sean is studying for his PhD within the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance. Interests of his include counter terrorism and national security resilience within the United Kingdom.

Sean has been an HMG Civil Servant since 2008, where he started his career as a strategic risk adviser and later as a policy adviser. He has had multiple overseas deployments including secondments across several government departments including; the Home Office, Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence and Department for International Development.

Sean completed his masters in intelligence and security studies at Brunel University London.

PhD research description

Sean's PhD thesis explores the counterterrorism responses within the United Kingdom relative to the conceptualisation of radicalisation and extremism. The research seeks to move beyond current academic discourse and government policies, by investigating the cognitive processes and behaviours amongst young adults, which transgresses the legal and illegal action thresholds relative to current counterterrorism policy.

Sean developed an interest in this area of research when he recognised radicalisation-based thinking and policy measures are centred around seeing involvement in terrorism as originating from the adoption of radical beliefs. He found there is strong evidence to support most radicals never become involved in terrorism, and, not all violent actors are driven by their ideological beliefs.

The doctoral research will refine and identify new areas of focus in the realm of radicalisation and extremist behaviours, which will involve empirical research in the form of interviews and case studies. This evidence will expand the ontology of concepts relating to radicalisation and extremism to improve government resource allocations, shape future policies and deradicalisation interventions.

PhD supervisors

Sean's PhD supervisors are Dr Aidan McGarry, Dr Tim Oliver and Professor Helen Drake

Awards, grants or scholarships received

2018 - Scholarship to Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv - engaging in threat analysis scenarios and applying intelligence analysis methodologies.

Interests and activities

Beyond his PhD, Sean has an interest in (de)radicalisation and reintegration, terrorist groups’ policies and intelligence analysis.