Department of History (Historical Studies)

  • BS8 1TB

    United Kingdom

Organization profile

Organisation profile

Historical Studies at Bristol consist of two subject areas, History and History of Art, which each have their own degree programme, though students are encouraged to treat staff from the whole department as a collective resource. What is distinctive about both in combination is the way in which their research is made outward-looking, directed both into the activities of students and to audiences and partners outside as well as within the academic system. This characteristic is manifested in a number of different ways:

  • In degree programmes which aim to turn students into practising historians and art historians by the time that they graduate, enabling them to learn the essential skills of professionals and to research and write history and history of art for themselves.
  • In a broad spectrum of engagement with public bodies and arenas, including English Heritage, various museums and art galleries, schools, writers’ groups, government departments and film and television companies. We have a 'Public History' pathway to the History MA programme and hold an annual festival of history, Past Matters, for the citizens of Bristol and friends. A parallel strand in the History of Art MA offers a number of curatorial units in collaboration with museum partners locally and nationally.
  • In an interest in major themes which cut across chronological and disciplinary boundaries in research and teaching, such as the environment, the body, and visual culture.
  • In the continued development of a broad span of subjects for teaching and research, allowing plenty of choice to students and staff alike, with particular strengths in the medieval and early modern, modern and contemporary periods, and in imperial and colonial history.
  • In a participation in the widest possible spans of academic collaboration and association, including a particular input into the World University Network.

Research in the Department of History encompasses a wide range of historical approaches, operating in both the Arts and the Social Sciences, and focus mainly on these areas:

  • Contemporary history
  • Colonial history
  • Early modern history
  • Medieval history

Staff and research students from the department engage widely in the activities of Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Arts (BIRTHA) and the Worldwide Universities Network.

Close links also exist with national scholarly institutions such as the British Academy, the Institute for Historical Research, the Economic History Society, and other such institutions.

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  • Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

    Research Output

    The Cambridge Companion to the Age of William the Conqueror

    Pohl, B. (ed.), 2022, (In preparation) Cambridge University Press. (Cambridge Companions)

    Research output: Book/ReportEdited book

    Figuring out the population bomb. Politics, science and demography 1948-2030

    Sheldon, R. D., 2021, Sustainability and complexity: towards a post-disciplinary approach. Springer London

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


    Student theses

    "A free-gift to the city of Bristol": Richard Cottrell's Avon Metro project and the changing nature of urban centre transport solutions, government and funding, 1979 - 1992.

    Author: Parsons, G., 23 Jan 2019

    Supervisor: Pemberton, H. (Supervisor) & Hanna, E. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy (MPhil)


    Capital, Monopoly and Economic Nationalism: A History of British Railways in Colombia, 1902-1930

    Author: Primmer, A., 23 Jan 2019

    Supervisor: Brown, M. (Supervisor) & Decker, R. J. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


    Changing British attitudes to China and the Chinese, 1928-1931

    Author: Bickers, R. A., 1 Dec 1992

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


    2009 Jonathan Hart Prize

    Mawdsley, Stephen E (Recipient), 2009

    Prize: Prizes, Medals, Awards and Grants

    2010 Sir James Lougheed Award of Distinction

    Mawdsley, Stephen E (Recipient), 2010

    Prize: Prizes, Medals, Awards and Grants

    2011 H.N. Segall Prize

    Mawdsley, Stephen E (Recipient), 2011

    Prize: Prizes, Medals, Awards and Grants

  • Activities

    Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Arts, workshop ‘The final countdown: writing about numeracy and numbers

    James Thompson (Speaker)

    31 May 2028

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    MedEnv workshop 3: Climate

    Victoria L Bates (Member of programme committee), , Marianna R Dudley (Organiser), , Clare Hickman (Member of programme committee), & Chris Pearson (Member of programme committee)

    14 Jan 202115 Jan 2021

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

    Interdisciplinary Retreat: Senses and Modern Health/care Environments

    Victoria L Bates (Organiser), & Rebecka E Fleetwood-Smith (Participant)

    20 Jan 202127 Jan 2021

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course