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Portsmouth military education

Read about the packages available to members of the Armed Forces

The Portsmouth Military Education (PME) Team has a history of delivering professional military education to the UK’s military. We cover areas ranging from international security and air power, to cyber and space security in a continually evolving curriculum. We deliver a combination of practical and research-based learning.

Air and space power education for the Royal Air Force

An Introduction to Portsmouth Military Education Team | University of Portsmouth

Veronica Poniscjakavo
Whether it’s at Cranwell, teaching officer cadets or whether it’s at Halton teaching NCOs, I would like to think that we really make a difference.


Harry Richards

Portsmouth Military Education is a department of scholars working at RAF College Cranwell. The focus of PME is to develop professional military education, and that means focusing on how to think rather than what to think.

 

Tom Smith

Anybody who joins the Air Force has to go through our course. So in essence, the University of Portsmouth educates every single officer in the Air Force and has done that now for a decade.

 

Claire Stevens

The course here for the cadets is about eight weeks. We teach the cadets in a blended manner. They have an initial session of about 4 hours learning time on the virtual learning environment. They then have an hour and a half of face to face contact time with us where we consolidate what they've learnt online. 

 

Steven Harrison

One of the key skills that we expect any officer in the Air Force to do is to be able to think around a problem whilst maintaining the intent of the commander in prosecuting whatever task they've been given.

 

Harry Richards

The RAF do shape the curriculum to quite a large extent. But how we teach it is kind of up to us. We provide a much nicer, academic, friendly space for them to exercise their critical thinking skills, and I think that's what makes us special here at RAF Cranwell, anyway.


 

Tom Smith

My small team of 12 delivers across two RAF sites here at the RAF College of Cranwell, but also at RAF Halton.

 

Veronica Poniscjakavo

At RAF Halton, we teach corporals, sergeants, flight sergeants and ward officers.

 

Tom Smith

Here at Cranwell, I have cybersecurity experts. But I also have people who have invested their lives in military history and have PhDs on various aspects of military history.

 

Veronica Poniscjakavo

It's really interesting to teach people who have been in the Air Force for decades, and I very much enjoy conversations we have with them on different topics.

 

Steven Harrison

Professional military education for the RAF is very important. Everything we do is based on how we can apply the lessons we've learnt from history to future operations.

 

Harry Richards

Military environments are almost defined by structure, rank and discipline, because we're civilian academics, they're free to discuss, debate and challenge us, which is really important when it comes to developing and inculcating critical thinking skills.
 

Veronica Poniscjakavo

What makes me really proud is that I'm part of something big. We get to do something good for the RAF and ultimately for the country.

 

Claire Stevens

In the two years that I've been working here, I've already seen probably over a thousand cadets go through the course with the team. So I know that we're making an impact, and that's quite a proud moment for me, I think.

 

The Portsmouth Military Education Team is made up of subject matter experts across the wide spectrum of topics a modern, capable military needs to study. These include:

  • International security
  • Air power
  • Military theory
  • Joint operations
  • Cyber security
  • Space security
  • Military history

Initial Officer Training – Royal Air Force College Cranwell

We are very proud to support RAF Initial Officer Training and take the responsibility very seriously. In 2022 the PME team overhauled assessment on this course and introduced a new dynamic approach replacing essays with oral presentations.

Combined with the sector-leading approach to blended online digital delivery, the PME team continue to deliver cutting edge services in both the content and delivery of education to the Royal Air Force. At the RAF College, our specialist teams teach, tutor and assess the next generation of air and space power leaders in three core areas:

  • International security and relations
  • The development of air power theory and practice
  • Contemporary security operations and challenges

Non-commissioned officer training - RAF Halton

At RAF Halton, our specialist team delivers tailored education packages to non-commissioned officers. We train participants in the use of air power as a military instrument, and its position in the global geo-strategic context.

Air Power and International Security Podcast Cover Image

Air Power and International Security Podcast

A new podcast series exploring Air Power Theory and Practice, International Security and Current Affairs, and the History of Military Aviation and Space Power, brought to you by the University of Portsmouth's Military Education Team.

This show aims to develop understandings of the use of air and space power in the contemporary world.

Series 1 

  1. Thinking about Air Power
  2. Is War in Space Inevitable?
  3. The Father of the RAF: Hugh Trenchard
  4. Explaining Russian Aggression
  5. Cyber War and International Law
  6. The First Space War
  7. NATO in the 21st Century
  8. Victory in the Falklands
  9. Assessing the UK's Nuclear Policy
  10.  Will Autonomous Weapons be Ethical?
  11.  Air Power in the Six Day War
  12.  Understanding the War in Afghanistan
  13.  The Story of RAF Medmenham
  14.  Chinese Intentions Towards Taiwan 
  15.  The Future of Air Power

Find our weekly podcast episodes on:

Teaching staff profiles

You will be taught by our experienced staff. See all members of the team. 

Tom Smith - Academic Director

Tom leads the PME Team from the RAF College, managing the delivery of various courses for the RAF at Cranwell and Halton. Tom specialises in contemporary security and terrorism with a particular focus in Asia. In 2016, he was commissioned by the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Human Capability Science and Technology Centre to examine the role of ISIS and other jihadist social media in the Syrian War. Then again by DSTL in 2020 to examine the use of advanced technology in weapons in current and future conflict. His researched was published in both the leading terrorism academic journals and in 2020 edited the 2 volume account of Global Jihad bringing the worlds experts together for critical threat analysis. In 2022 he published work on election violence in the Philippines in the leading journal Pacific Affairs. He has given evidence before the All Parliamentary Group on Human Rights regarding human rights abuses in the Philippines, as well as speaking at the House of Lords.

Frank Ledwidge - Senior Lecturer

Frank began his career as a criminal barrister in his home city of Liverpool. He was called up as an RN Reserves officer in 1996 and served several tours as a human intelligence operator in the Balkans and Iraq. In civilian life he worked eight years with the OSCE as a senior human rights officer in the Balkans and the Former Soviet Union. Whilst in the Balkans he worked as an investigator for the International Criminal Tribunal. He was the first Justice Advisor for the UK PRT in Helmand and served as a stabilisation officer for the British Missions in Benghazi and Tripoli during the Libya War in 2011-12. He completed his PhD (at KCL) in 2015 and has since worked as senior lecturer at both Cranwell and Halton. He is the author of several books including the bestselling 'Losing Small Wars' (Yale 2011/2018) and Aerial Warfare (Oxford 2018) both of which were included on the Chief of the Air Staff reading lists for the relevant years. His interests are in contemporary conflict, space and military ethics.

Clare Stevens - Teaching Fellow

Clare Stevens is a cyber security expert leading on cyber related material in our courses. Her research expertise pertains to the contemporary security issues of digital technologies in international security, with a particular focus on cybersecurity politics and American security policy. Her doctoral research was on the strategic use and misuse of cyberspace by state and non-state actors in the United States. By using the idea of “boundary work” as an organising heuristic for her analysis, her PhD thesis analysed the fraught domestic political processes of defence and security policymaking in the US to show how the ways that state actors talk about cybersecurity and cyber operations are shaping or challenging understandings of “old” strategic concepts, social categories and boundaries. Her current research interests are about the role of government secrecy in cyber operations.

Veronika Poniscjakova - Senior Teaching Fellow

Veronika’s research focuses on the role of counter-culture, religion and right-wing ideology on perpetration of political violence and civil disobedience in Israel. She has 4 years teaching experience in air power, history and international relations. While working at the University of Nottingham she taught modules on the War in Iraq and Political Theory: From Ancient to Modern.

Contact Us

For further information please contact the Portsmouth Military Education Academic Director, Dr Tom Smith via tom.smith@port.ac.uk or tom.smith197@mod.gov.uk

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