Associate Professor Sarah Percy

Associate Professor

School of Political Science and International Studies
Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
+61 7 344 31323


Sarah Percy arrived at UQ from the University of Western Australia in 2016. Prior to her appointment at UWA, Sarah was University Lecturer and Tutorial Fellow in International Relations at the University of Oxford (Merton College). At Oxford, Sarah was on the steering committee of the Oxford Programme on the Changing Character of War. Sarah did her M.Phil and D.Phil as a Commonwealth Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford.

Sarah has three main research areas. She has had a long-standing interest in unconventional combatants, and has published widely on mercenaries, private military companies, and pirates. Sarah is interested in issues of maritime security generally, including piracy and counter-piracy, maritime crime, and the role of navies as security actors. She also conducts research at the nexus between international relations and international law, and is interested in how and why the use of force is regulated, and the relationship between norms and international law.

Research Interests

  • Piracy
  • Maritime security
  • International security
  • Mercenaries
  • Private military and security companies

Research Impacts

Sarah's research projects have had considerable impact outside academia. Sarah has presented her research on mercenaries and private military companies at the United Nations; at policy-oriented events at Princeton University and New York University; and at the Royal United Services Institute (London) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (London).

Sarah's research on piracy was featured in the production notes for the film "Captain Phillips", directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks. She has presented this research to the Royal Navy and at DFAT's Counter-Piracy Conference. Sarah has also presented on maritime security and strategy to the Royal Australian Navy, and at the RAN's Sea Power Conference in 2014, and to the Federal Court of Australia's Maritime and Admiralty Law group in 2015. Sarah is a non-resident fellow of the Royal Australian Navy's Sea Power Centre.

Sarah is an experienced media commentator. Her writing has appeared in the Guardian, USA Today, The Conversation, and The Lowy Interpreter. She has appeared on radio in the United States (National Public Radio) and in Australia (Radio National, multiple programs including Rear Vision and The World Today) and on Sky News.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Oxford


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Book Chapter

  • Percy, Sarah (2019). A world transformed: the need for new defence approaches?. After American primacy. (pp. 211-217) edited by Peter J. Dean, Stephan Frühling and Brendan Taylor. Melbourne, VIC, Australia: Melbourne University Publishing. doi: 10.2307/jj.1744972.19

  • Percy, Sarah (2018). Maritime security. The Oxford handbook of international security. (pp. 607-621) edited by Alexandra Gheciu and William C. Wohlforth. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198777854.013.40

  • Percy, Sarah (2017). International law. An introduction to international relations. (pp. 266-279) Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781316855188.020

  • Percy, Sarah (2016). Counter-piracy in the Indian Ocean: Networks and Military Cooperation. The new power politics: networks and transnational security governance. (pp. 245-267) edited by Deborah Avant and Oliver Westerwinter. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

  • Percy, Sarah (2016). Norms and regulation. Routledge handbook of private security studies. (pp. 219-227) edited by Rita Abrahamsen and Anna Leander. London, United Kingom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315850986-27

  • Percy, Sarah (2014). The unimplemented norm: anti-mercenary law and the problems of institutionalization. Implementation and world politics : how international norms change practice. (pp. 68-84) edited by Alexander Betts and Phil Orchard. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

  • Percy, Sarah (2011). The changing character of private force. The changing character of war. (pp. 259-281) edited by Hew Strachan and Sibylle Scheipers. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

  • Percy, Sarah (2009). Morality and regulation. From Mercenaries to Market: The Rise and Regulation of Private Military Companies. Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199228485.003.0002

  • Percy, Sarah V. (2008). The Security Council and the use of private force. The United Nations Security Council and war: the evolution of thought and practice since 1945. (pp. 624-642) edited by Vaughan Lowe, Adam Roberts, Jennifer Welsh and Dominik Zaum. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Journal Article

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision