Dr J Simon Rofe

Dr J Simon Rofe


Dr J. Simon Rofe, Simon, is a world leading expert in Sports Diplomacy. Simon has an international research profile addressing sports diplomacy, with a particular focus upon the relationship of the sporting ecosystem with diplomatic practice, having been instrumental in establishing the field of study since 2010.

Simon is Associate Professor (Reader) in International Politics at the University of Leeds (2022- ) with School responsibilities for Curriculum Redefined, having been Reader in Diplomatic Studies at SOAS University of London (2011-2022).

He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Sport Humanities; a Visiting Fellow at the Centre of sports law, sports policies and sports diplomacy of the University of Rijeka (Croatia): Visiting Professor in Diplomacy, Cyber Security and Defense at EM Lyon Business School (France): and a member of the Advisory Board to International Master’s programme in Cultural Diplomacy at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milan, (Italy) and is a standing member of the Advisory Panel to the UNESCO Chair in Sports Law at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Spain)

He is currently Deputy Director of the Centre for Distance Education at the University of London and was the inaugural Programme Director for the MA Global Diplomacy, and was the SOAS Head of Digital Learning (2016-2020) where he devised the institution’s first Online Learning Strategy in 2018, and led in the strategic response to COVID 19 in preparations for online delivery for September 2020. He has designed, developed and delivered (3Ds) numerous online and digital learning programmes under the aegis of the IR Model (Rofe, 2011) at a variety of HEI, NGO and other organisations; he developed MOOCs in the first wave of their deployment with Understanding Research Methods MOOC and then Global Diplomacy: Diplomacy in the Modern World and, having been widely published in the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching, has been at the forefront of digital learning for over a decade.

Simon’s previous roles include being Senior Lecturer and Director of Distance Learning Director in the Department of Politics and International Relations, and Centre for American Studies at the University of Leicester. He has previously held positions in the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London at UK Defence Academy; in the American Studies Department at Canterbury Christ Church University; the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent at Canterbury, and the as Associate Lecturer at the Open University.


  • Curriculum Redefined

Research interests

Simon’s scholarship focuses on Diplomacy in its many guises: particularly Global Diplomacy through research in a variety of areas including Soft Power & Public Diplomacy, Anglo-American relations and The US Embassy in London, Knowledge Diplomacy and Sports Diplomacy. 

Simon helped to found the field of Sports Diplomacy; a field that has grown exponentially with the engagement of a plurality of scholars and practitioners. He developed the first taught module globally entitled ‘Sport and Diplomacy: More than a Game’, following a role in the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) in 2012. Working alongside a team of European based colleagues, Simon completed an Erasmus+ project Towards a European Sport Diplomacy strategy (2020-22). Simon founded the Sport, Diplomacy, and Governance Hub, which provides for multi-directional knowledge exchange, and has established a strong multinational network of relevant contacts in the realms of Sport and Diplomacy. He co-directed the Basketball Diplomacy in Africa Oral History Project, with a particular focus on the Basketball Africa League,

In his work on Sports Diplomacy he has worked with numerous stakeholders from across the sporting and diplomatic realms including, UNESCO & UNICEF, the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Foreign Services and government agencies from around the world, anti-doping associations, bidding and organising committees.

Simon is the co-editor of the Manchester University Press Key Studies in Diplomacy book series, a member of the founding editorial board for 

Diplomatic: A Journal of Diplomacy and Society; the Journal of Public Diplomacy, and the Journal of Sports Law and Diplomacy; having been a member of the Editorial Board of Diplomatic History 2015-2018. Between 2019-2023 Simon Chaired ISA’s Diplomatic Studies Section ; between 2020-21 ISA’s Active Learning in International Affairs Section ALIAS; was Co-Chair/Founder of BISA's Learning and Teaching Working Group 2009-2017, and was Vice-Chair Transatlantic Studies Association 2013-2016.

He is a member of Football for Peace UK Executive Steering Committee, a UEFA qualified Football Coach, and Core Coach in Cricket.

Simon has supervised numerous Research Students and would welcome the opportunity to supervise more across a broad interpretation of diplomacy.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PG Diploma Academic Practice (Distinction), 2008
  • PhD University of Wales, 2005
  • MA International Relations (Distinction) University of Keele 1998
  • BA Hons American Studies and International History, 1996

Professional memberships

  • BISA
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>