Dr Luca Trenta

Associate Professor, Politics, Philosophy and International Relations

Telephone number

+44 (0) 1792 602633

Email address

Research Links

Available For Postgraduate Supervision
Media Commentator


Dr Luca Trenta is an Associate Professor in International Relations in the Department of Political and Cultural Studies, Swansea University.

He held a 2017 British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award for his project: ‘Out of the Shadows: understanding, researching and teaching covert action.’ Through the project, Dr Trenta has carried out several engagement and outreach events in Welsh and English schools, as well as networking events for Early Career Researchers. Three podcast episodes are also available on Soundcloud and Apple Podcasts featuring topics such as covert operations and regime change. He previously received a British Academy Small Research grant for his project on 'Targeted killing? The recurrence of assassination is US foreign policy.'

His current research focuses mainly on the US government’s involvement in the assassination of foreign officials from the Cold War to the present day. He has published articles in IR, Intelligence Studies, and International Law journals. These include works on the Ford Administration and the development of the US ban on assassination, on the Obama Administration use (and legitimation of) targeted killing, and on the international adoption of an expanded notion of imminence to justify uses of forces in self-defence.

He previously published a monograph on risk and presidential decision-making with Routledge. He has also published articles on US foreign policy and presidential decision-making in The European Journal of International Security, Diplomacy and Statecraft and in The Journal of Transatlantic Studies

In 2020, Dr Trenta appeared in four episodes of the History Channel documentary Secret Wars Uncovered. He has worked with BBC Radio 3 on the Free Thinking programme as well as with the Being Human Festival for the Humanities. In collaboration with Professor Rory Cormac, Dr Trenta has organised a talk at the Hay-on-Wye International Book festival. With BBC Ideas he has produced a short movie on the history of assassination. He is also a regular contributor to The Conversation, Talk Radio, Nation Radio, and BBC Radio Wales.

Areas Of Expertise

  • International Relations
  • US Foreign Policy
  • Cold War
  • Covert Action
  • Intelligence Studies
  • Assassinations and targeted killing
  • Drones

Languages Spoken

  • Italian

Career Highlights

Teaching Interests

International Relations Theories
US Foreign Policy
Cold War
Intelligence and Covert operations


I am conducting research in two main areas. First, I am researching the role of assassination and targeted killing in US foreign policy, and the extent to which national and international norms influenced policymaking. I have been exploring these issues through insights from constructivist scholarship in IR looking at processes of conceptual change and norm contestation. Second, I am developing interdisciplinary research on the impact of technology on international norms, international law, and international society. 

Beyond these two main strands, I have recently developed an interest in the interconnection between post-apocalyptic fiction (cli-fi and pandemics driven) norms and International Relations. 

Award Highlights

2014: $20000 Texas Strategic Partnership, Swansea University and Bush School for organization of a workshop on the use of drones as a new platform of warfare. The workshop included US, UK, and EU academics, representatives from IISS (London) and the Remote Warfare Project (London).

2014: £3000 College of Arts and Humanities, Swansea University for research and collaboration with George H. W. Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M.

2014: £800 College of Arts and Humanities, Swansea University, for participation at the New Orleans ISA conference.

2013: Durham University Excellence in Research Award

2012: £3000 PhD Student Projects & Initiatives Scheme, Durham University, Faculty of Social Sciences and School of Government and International Affairs, grant for the organisation of a one-day conference on the Iran hostage crisis. Speakers included US and UK academics, as well as former hostage Ambassador John Limbert.

2012: €1700 European Association for American Studies Travel Grant for research and interviews in the US.

2012: Richard Neustadt Prize, Best Post-graduate paper, 2012 APG Conference, 5-7th January

2012: Durham University Excellence in Research Award.