Ethan Harding in Brynmor Jones Library

Department of History

Illuminating the past. Engaging the present. Shaping the future.

History has never been more relevant to understanding the challenges of the present day. At Hull, our world-leading research places contemporary issues such as human rights and the environment in their deep historical perspective.

As a student, you'll work closely with us as we explore a programme that is global and diverse. Our focus on employability also means that you’ll gain the skills you need for the workplace while studying a subject you love.

Through our research, teaching and outreach, we study the past in order to build a brighter future.

Head of department

jenny macleod

Dr Jenny Macleod

Accreditations

Research in the Department of History

Historical research at Hull takes in a broad chronology, from the early medieval to the contemporary world.

Our areas of focus are global in scope and broad in topical reach – encompassing slavery, oceanic and maritime history, environmental and indigenous history, continental and island histories.

The reach and impact of our work is extended through a global network of academic, policy, third sector, heritage and community partnerships. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, a significant proportion of our research was recognised to be world-leading – distinguished by the publication of books and peer-reviewed articles in top-ranked presses and academic journals with large global readerships.

Our research – supported by over £3 million in competitive grant funding – influences thinking, informs policy, and addresses pressing global challenges such as climate change, human rights and the place of 'marginal' peoples, communities and states in a rapidly changing global order.

Research strengths

Global Challenges, Global Audiences

Our aim is to enhance the reach and impact of our research in alignment with three strategic themes:

  • Global challenges – conflict, the environment, borders, mobility and migration
  • Historic and contemporary rights – historic and modern slavery, indigenous rights, gender and marginalised communities
  • Digital storytelling - immersive environments, data visualisation, gaming and new digital audiences

The first is to develop an interdisciplinary approach to contemporary global challenges by expanding the reach of our global engagement. Linking specifically with communities and peoples who have traditionally been relegated to the global margins, and using the mechanism of the environmental humanities, we’re making a defined contribution to the University of Hull’s strategic focus on fairness, green economies and coping with environmental change.

Second, we will provide fresh perspectives on and enhance engagement with pressing global issues – including modern slavery, the politics of race in postsocialist states, indigenous rights, water cultures and women’s rights – through our research groups and contributions to University institutes.

The third is to contribute to the development of the UK’s cultural research infrastructure, with a focus on e-infrastructure; the demand for which has been sharply increased as a result of COVID-19. We seek to enhance the cultural value of research, and to use digital technology to engage audiences of the future with the UK’s diverse cultural assets.

Our community

of slides

Hull History Network

The Hull History Network was founded in 2019 to provide a plethora of in-study vocational opportunities that complement our student's degree journey. This year, students had the opportunity to work with the Hull: Yorkshire Maritime City Project, the Blaydes Maritime Centre, Hull Museums and Galleries, the Treatied Spaces project and the Department of History. Other members of the network have embraced opportunities to do paid teaching work, volunteer with dementia charity reminiscence therapy, conduct exhibition research, act as tour guides to cultural sites and get involved with the delivery of world class cultural events like the Freedom Festival.

Showcasing Queer voices from the past

Students from the department had an exciting opportunity to help curate content for the Pride in our City exhibition by the Humber Museums Partnership. Their research showcased how Hull is an inclusive space for everyone and drew upon art history modules at the University of Hull. They wrote about the queer identities of art held at the Ferens Art Gallery and this partnership was showcased at a national heritage conference on Queer Voices in Museums featuring the Tate, National Maritime Museum, Queer Britain and our friends at Hull Museums and Art Gallery. Such activity complements our work to embed queer histories and historians throughout our curriculum.

Inspiring Olympians

Watch: our research empowers all communities and embraces the individual identities that make us who we are. During the last two years, History staff and students have been working with Team GB to explore the racial, cultural and religious diversity that have underpinned Olympic success since 1896. This short film produced by Team GB features research by our colleagues Dr Jenny Macleod and Dr Catherine Baker, and students Lewis Carter and Grace Hawkins.

Open lightbox

Research that makes an impact

Our online lectures, regular podcasts, and appearances in the media ensure our work has an impact around the world. Recently Professor Joy Porter from the Treatied Spaces Research Cluster delivered a keynote lecture 'Who Fights for Canada as the Climate Changes?' at the British Library. Meanwhile, webinars by our historians at the Wilberforce Institute on critical issues including the legacy of slavery, human rights and 2020 Black Lives Matter debates have been attended by people from over 50 countries.

Inspiring postgraduates

Our talented pool of graduate students is at the intellectual heart of our research culture. Their research, which covers topics from ancient Rome to contemporary race relations, has the power to reshape how we engage with the past. Research by Victoria Taylor is reframing our understanding of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War and through her appearance on the History Hit, is inspiring audiences to explore the military past. Former PhD student Dr Ryan Hanley won the 2019 Royal Historical Society Whitfield Prize for his monograph, meanwhile fellow alumnus Dr Michael Reeve won the 2020 Gordon Fraser Essay Prize for a peer-reviewed article in Northern History that drew upon doctoral research at our Blaydes Maritime Centre and collections held at the Hull History Centre.

Undergraduate multimedia stories

The creativity of our student community is at the core of their success. While we are keen to encourage our students to embrace new ways of learning, we often learn as much from them. Dane Mellows became something of a social media star this summer, sharing his digital literacy with his passion for our fantastic campus in a fun way that brought us all some much-needed cheer. Meanwhile, recent Graduate Intern Rebecca Kelly produced #RebeccasGuide, three short films that shared her top tips for bolstering your CV alongside studying for a degree in History. Her advice included making greater use of our wonderful careers service.

99% student satisfaction

Providing students with a quality learning experience is central to our teaching. We were thrilled that 99% of our final year students were satisfied overall with the quality of their course#, placing Hull at 5th out of all History departments in the UK Higher Education sector! We were keen to ensure that even amidst the pandemic lockdown our students could keep studying, supported by our excellent library resources (the subject of another top ten ranking in the NSS). In this academic year we have offered accessible and useful online learning materials while maintaining our commitment to face-to-face discussions in a welcoming but safe environment on campus.

Building upon Medieval foundations

The department’s Medieval historians have for decades ensured the spatial breadth of our teaching and research activity remains world class. Building upon pioneering work making the contents of the Domesday Book accessible to global audiences, recent research by Dr Colin Veach is helping to rewrite the history of England’s first overseas colony – medieval Ireland. In this recent recorded lecture he discusses the political role of powerful English magnates in subjugating Irish resistance to early colonisation. His latest work ‘The General Crisis’ will feature in the forthcoming multi-volume New Cambridge History of Britain which trace the causes and consequences of Magna Carta throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Our people

The department is a vibrant community of extremely talented staff and students, who collaborate to craft some incredibly creative work.

staff members in the Department of History, arranged alphabetically by last name

PhD students

PhD students in the Department of History
  • james-baker

    James Baker

    James is working on public education as a means of remembering the forced emigration of British children to Australia, 1913-1968

  • emily-birch

    Emily Birch

    Emily is working on Gender and Space in Hampton Court: From the reign of Henry VIII to Queen Anne

  • laura-burkinshaw

    Laura Burkinshaw

    Laura is a PhD candidate studying navalism and nationalism in inter-war Britain, examining popular enthusiasm for the Royal Navy and the interplay between society, Britishness and the sea.

  • adam-cook

    Adam Cook

    Adam is working on identity in Medieval Yorkshire and Northumberland between 1066 and 1216.

  • renae-dyball

    Renae Dyball

    Renae Dyball is working on the themes of crisis and response in the history of London from the Great Fire to Brexit.

  • reb-ellis

    Rebecca Ellis

    Rebecca’s project investigates the use of figurative forms in early Celtic Art in England and Wales, in addition to assessing the contribution of publicly recovered tangible heritage to the subject.

  • nicola-guy

    Nicola Guy

    Nicola’s PhD research examines the differing roles exhibition-making has held in the period since Berlin was unified in 1990

  • Staff placeholder

    Michael Haughton

    Michael Haughton is researching the study of Hebrew in Tudor England.

  • helen-keighley

    Helen Keighley

    Helen’s research explores the role of volunteers in the presentation of heritage at heritage sites In England.

  • Rebecca Nelson

    Rebecca Nelson

    Rebecca's PhD project, focusses on the ways in which museums in the UK interpret and engage with anti-slavery in both historic and contemporary contexts.

  • matt-pooley

    Matt Pooley

    Matt is a NECAH-funded PhD student examining how information and intelligence networks helped to develop English/British imperial ambitions in the Western Atlantic (the southern American mainland colonies and the Caribbean) between c.1700-1750.

  • ryan-prescott

    Ryan Prescott

    Ryan’s work investigates the period known commonly as the anarchy of King Stephen’s reign, 1135-54 and its impact on the landscapes of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

  • mary-rehman

    Mary Rehman

    Mary’s research centres on eighteenth century masculinity in the contexts of race, slavery and abolitionism.

  • joseph-slack

    Joseph Slack

    Joseph Slack is a PhD student working on the history of the British Empire in India, with a focus on the conflict between Britain and Russia over control of the region.

  • victoria-taylor

    Victoria Taylor

    Victoria’s PhD thesis explores the tumultuous relationship between the Luftwaffe and National Socialism in the Third Reich: tracing the socio-political permeance of Nazi ideology into the ill-fated air force before, during, and after the Second World War.

  • lauren-theweneti

    Lauren Theweneti

    Lauren is working on transformation and socio-spatial change in First World War Leeds from 1911 to 1920.

  • sam-wright

    Sam Wright

    Funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, Sam is investigating the risks associated with British Distant-Water Trawling from c. 1880 to c.1980, analysing the many factors that influenced this most dangerous of occupations

    Hull History Centre

    Steeped in history

    Our students benefit from access to specialist historical resources, including Hull History Centre, which contains archives documenting Hull ranging from 1086 all the way through to our year as UK City of Culture in 2017.

    Footnote

    #National Student Survey (NSS) 2020, HEIs only

    * UK domicile full-time first degree leavers; Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey for the academic year 2016/17, published by HESA 2018