Photo of Victoria L Bates

Dr Victoria L Bates

BA (Nott.), MA (Exon.), PhD (Exon.)

  • BS8 1TB


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

About Me

Job Title: Senior Lecturer in Modern History

Office: H.03, New Humanities Building



My Research

Current Research. 'Sensing Spaces of Healthcare: Rethinking the NHS Hospital'

This UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship (2020-24) asks how people have experienced hospitals through time, and the legacy of their perceptions in current hospital design.  It will create the first sensory history of hospitals in the 20th and 21st centuries, in order to understand the changing role of sensory interactions in the making of hospital environments.  Harnessing participatory practices, it will create a novel multidisciplinary methodology for eliciting memories and sensations of hospitals, which will encourage new ways of thinking and practices among researchers, architects, and designers.


I am also a collaborator or lead on a number of networks and research projects related to this UKRI  Future Leaders Fellowship. I manage two Wellcome-Trust funded research networks (2019-22): (1) I am PI on Senses and Modern Health/care Environments: Exploring interdisciplinary and international opportunities. This grant is supporting the expansion of a nascent UK-based network in the history of hospital senses, to be more international and more collaborative. (2) I am Co-I of the 'MedEnv' network, which is exploring the intersections between medical and environmental humanities. I am the lead for its 'cities' strand, due to my interests in architecture, design and health. I am also on the steering group of the AHRC 'Unlocking Landscapes' network (2020-22), which focuses on the senses, landscape and wellbeing. Finally, I am a collaborator on the SSHRC Insight Grant 'Explorations in Sensory Design' (2020-24) run out of the Centre for Sensory Studies at Concordia University, Montreal.


This research on health, the senses and design emerged from my recent work on 'humanistic' healthcare environments and a number of other small-scale projects. In 2017/18 the University of Bristol Strategic Research Fund funded the development of this sensory history, entitled 'Better by Design: Towards a Sensory History of the Modern Hospital’. In 2019 the University of Bristol International Strategic Fund supported my time as a visiting scholar at Concordia University, Montreal (Centre for Sensory Studies). The research also builds on my collaborative and public-facing work on the senses and health, including: 


Other Research Interests

I have particular research interests in the social history of medicine in modern British and Anglo-American contexts. My research interests fall into two broad categories: medico-legal history and the arts in medicine/healthcare. I have broad research interests in the interdisciplinary field of 'medical humanities'. I was selected for the New Generations Programme in Medical Humanities in 2014/15. I also run the Regional Medical Humanities network and newsletter for the South West and Wales (please contact me for further details or to join)


Medico-Legal History

I have conducted extensive research on changes in the age of sexual consent in the late nineteenth century and on medical evidence in cases of sexual crime, with particular attention to medico-legal relationships and the value of using age as a category of analysis. This research forms the basis of a number of journal articles (see publications) and my monograph: Sexual Forensics in Victorian and Edwardian England (2016). Alongside this research I worked on the medico-legal relations of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP) and cultural representations of MSbP in the late twentieth century.


Arts and the 'Human' Aspects of Medical Care

Between 2010-13 I collaborated on an AHRC Beyond Text Student Led Initiative called '"From the Cradle to the Grave": Reciprocity and Exchange in the Making of Medicine and the Modern Arts', and on a seminar series and associated edited collection entitled Medicine, Health and the Arts in Post-War Britain. In 2014-16, with the support of the EBI / Wellcome Trust, I worked on a project entitled ‘The Art of Medicine: The "Humanisation" of Healthcare and Medical Education, 1910-1993’. This project explored historic concerns about the 'dehumanisation' of modern healthcare and different attempts to '(re)humanise' healthcare and medical education in the twentieth century. It resulted in publications on the histories of narrative medicine, medical communication, multidisciplinary medical education and the idea of 'humanistic' hospital design. The latter formed the basis of my current research on the sensory history of NHS hospitals (details above). 


Research supervision 

I would be interested in supervising projects that relate to the modern history of health and place, hospitals, sensory studies, medicine, forensics, sex/sexuality and the medical humanities. I am particularly keen to supervise PhD students or mentor ECRs working on projects related to my UKRI fellowship 'Sensing Spaces of Healthcare'.


My Teaching

nb. I am not teaching for the duration of my UKRI FLF, but I taught during the period 2013-20 at the University of Bristol as below. 

My teaching is research driven. My units utilise primary source material from archives that I have visited and engage with cultural sources as part of my interest in the medical humanities. Examples of units that I currently teach or have taught in recent years include:

  • Special Topic - Madness: A Modern History
  • Lecture Response Unit, Year 2 - 'Savages' or 'Innocents'? Childhood and the State, 1780-1914
  • Special Field - A Body of Evidence: Forensic Medicine in Britain, 1800-1939
  • Special Subject - Repressed or Risqué? Victorian Sex and Sexuality.
  • Lecture Response Unit, Year 3: Death, Doctors and Disease

I also teach on the 'Approaches to History' and 'Public Role of the Humanities' courses, as well as the Foundation Year. I am also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Public Engagement

I have written for the Independent and for History & Policy, and I have been interviewed for Woman's Hour and Inside Out West. Since 2013 I have worked with the Watershed Cinema to organise academic speakers, including on history & film, for 'Conversations about Cinema'. I have led a number of medical history walks and given public talks on the history of hospital arts. Please email if you would like to organise a relevant event, talk or interview on the above research.


Structured keywords and research groupings

  • Health Science and Technology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Victoria L Bates is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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


Explorations in Sensory Design

Bates, V. L.


Project: Research

MedEnv: Intersections of Medical and Environmental Humanities

Dudley, M. R., Bates, V. L., Pearson, C. & Hickman, C.


Project: Research

Research Output

Making Noise in the Modern Hospital

Bates, V. L., 2021, (In preparation) Cambridge University Press. (Elements: Histories of Emotions and the Senses)

Research output: Book/ReportAuthored book

Beyond Landscape’s Visible Realm: Recorded sound, nature and wellbeing

Bates, V., Hickman, C., Manchester, H., Prior, J. & Singer, S., 1 Jan 2020, In : Health and Place. 61, 7 p., 102271.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Open Access
  • 33 Downloads (Pure)

    Forensic Medicine and Female Victimhood in Victorian and Edwardian England

    Bates, V., 1 Nov 2019, In : Past and Present. 245, 1, p. 117-151 35 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

    Open Access
  • 107 Downloads (Pure)


    SSHM Executive Committee

    Bates, Victoria L (Recipient), 2013

    Prize: Election to learned society

    University Engagement Awards: Highly Commended, with Professor Tim Cole

    Bates, Victoria L (Recipient), 1 Oct 2013

    Prize: Prizes, Medals, Awards and Grants


    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

    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

    Space, Place and Design in the Medical and Health Humanities

    Victoria L Bates (Participant)

    24 Jun 202126 Jun 2021

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

    Supervised Work

    The British state at the margins of empire: extraterritoriality and governance in treaty port China, 1842-1927

    Author: Thompson, A., 25 Sep 2018

    Supervisor: Bates, V. (Supervisor) & Bickers, R. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


    The Southwark Way of Death: Urban Dying and Death c.1830-1860

    Author: Conisbee, M. M., 23 Jan 2020

    Supervisor: Bates, V. L. (Supervisor) & Thompson, J. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)