Dr Briony McDonagh

Lecturer in Human Geography/ Director of Admissions for Geography and Geology

Faculty of Science and Engineering


01482 466734

Briony McDonagh is a historical and cultural geographer who joined the University of Hull in 2014.

She has published widely on the British rural landscape, on women's histories and historical geographies, and on the geographies of protest, property and the commons.

Briony is a lecturer in human geography who gained her BA, MA and PhD from the University of Nottingham and subsequently worked as a post-doctoral research fellow on the AHRC-funded Changing Landscapes, Changing Environments project.


Research Interests

  • Cultural and historical geographies of space, power, gender and identity in the British landscape over the longue durée

  • Feminist historical geographies, including ongoing work on women's contribution to landscape change 

  • Environmental humanities, with a particular focus on experiences of and responses to environmental change in early modern England 

  • The geographies of popular politics, protest and the law in early modern, modern and contemporary settings

Research groups

Research projects 

  • Gender, Place and Memory, 1400-1900 (funded by the University of Hull, Co-PI with Dr Amanda Capern, 2016-2019). Interdisciplinary research project exploring women’s lived experience of their everyday worlds.
  • Radical Histories, Alternative Futures - with Dr. Carl Griffin (University of Sussex). Pilot project examining how past and contemporary protest movements mobilised earlier protest histories as a way of shaping future politics and building alternative communities. 
  • Hubert Nicholson: Lost and Found - part of the AHRC Being Human Festival, November 2017, pilot project, exhibition and field day on Sunk Island, the setting for Nicholson's 1956 novel by the same name.
  • Experiencing the Landscape: Popular Geographical Imaginations in the English Midlands, 1450-1650 (funded by a British Academy Small Research Grant, 2014-2017).
  • Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape, 1700-1830 (funded by the Leverhulme Trust & the AHRC) - Project investigating elite women's role in managing large agricultural estates.
  • Contested Landscapes (funded by the School of Geography, School of English and Centre for Advanced Studies, University of Nottingham), with Prof Julie Sanders (English, Nottingham) and Dr Nicola Whyte (History, Exeter). Pilot project examining the lived experience of early modern landscapes at times of social and environmental change.


B. McDonagh, Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape, 1700-1830 (Routledge, 2017)

D. J. Starkey, D. Atkinson, B. McDonagh, S. McKeon and E. Salter (eds), Hull: Culture, History, Place (Liverpool University Press, 2017)

D. Crouch and B. McDonagh, ‘Turf Wars: conflict and cooperation in the management of a wetland landscape’, Agricultural History Review, 64.2 (2016), 133-56

B. McDonagh and C. J. Griffin (2016), ‘Occupy! Historical geographies of protest and resistance, 1500-1850’, Journal of Historical Geography, 53, pp. 1-10

B. McDonagh (2013) ‘Making and breaking property: negotiating enclosure and common rights in sixteenth-century England’, History Workshop Journal, 76 (1), pp. 32-56

Full list


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list

  • Foundation in Human Geography

  • Exploring Worlds Around Us

  • Interpreting Environments

  • Frontiers in Human Geography

  • Berlin Field Course

  • Making Worlds

  • Histories of the British Landscape

  • Contemporary Research in Human Geography (masters level)

Research PhDs

Briony welcomes enquiries from potential students (PhD and Masters) wishing to work on projects on the following themes (broadly interpreted).

  • Women histories and historical geographies

  • Historical geographies of the British landscape, including projects on country houses, gardens and parks; enclosure, improvement and agricultural change; rural and urban landscapes, 1450 onwards

  • The geographies of protest, resistance and the law (in both historic and contemporary contexts)

  • Environmental histories in Britain, the former British Empire and beyond

  • Heritage issues

Completed PhDs

  • Helen Bergin, The man, the sea and the ice. Captain William Colbeck’s Antarctic story (1898-1904), vivaed September 2017 and passed subject to minor revisions

Current PhD supervisions

  • Sarah Shields, Maid, wife, widow: women’s life-course and property ownership, 1550-1800

  • Helen Manning, Women, property and the law: mapping sexual inequality in the East Riding of Yorkshire, 1708-1974

  • Stormm Buxton-Hill, The impact of women on family dynastic ambitions and legal change in England, 1550-1800

  • Ruth Quinn, Agricultural heritage of Saltaire

  • Catherine Goddard, Heritage interpretation and visitor experience at historic homes in the East Midlands, with a focus on women’s history

  • Charlotte Garside, Women in Chancery: an analysis of chancery as a women’s court of redress in late 17th-century England

  • Lizzie Rogers, Women and the World: Explorers from the Home during the Enlightenment in Britain

  • Alice Whiteoak, Walking the world: Emotions, place and memory in English court records, 1400-1800

  • Jazmin Scarlett, The development of co-volcanic societies: the reciprocal relationships between the volcano La Soufrière and the society of St. Vincent, Lesser Antilles, 1718-1979

  • Kalliopi Kaparounaki, Caring children in Malawi: children’s work within families affected by illness and disability

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • PhD in Historical Geography, University of Nottingham, 2007

  • MA in Landscape and Culture (Geography/Archaeology), University of Nottingham, 2003

  • BA Hons Geography, University of Nottingham, 2002

External roles

  • Chair of the Historical Geography Research Group of the RGS-IBG

  • Co-editor of Historical Geography

  • Book Reviews Editor for the Agricultural History Review

  • Co-director of the University of Hull's Gender, Place and Memory research cluster