Research in the faculty
Our research forms part of the overall research activities and strategies of the Faculty of Arts and the Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Arts (BIRTHA).
Bristol’s Department of History is a leading centre for historical research, recognised internationally in terms of its intellectual leadership in particular branches of the discipline and its excellence in general. With research strengths in three core fields, Medieval and Early Modern, Contemporary, and Colonial, and a strategy to developing new areas of expertise, such as Visual Cultures and Performativity, Place and Space, the Department benefits greatly from being a member of a forward-looking and well-resourced School of Humanities, in turn part of the Faculty of Arts, which encourages and facilitates inter-disciplinary research.
Staff and postgraduate students in the Department of History are engaged in a wide range of individual and collaborative research activity. The Department plays a key role in University research initiatives, and in developments with collaborators across a wide range of institutions, nationally and internationally. There are critical masses of activity in a number of areas (contemporary history, colonial history, early modern history and medieval history) and these are complemented by research on other themes and periods.
If you are interested in pursuing a History MA (Master of Arts) or taking a research degree (MPhil, MLitt and PhD) you can be sure of joining a postgraduate research community of over sixty students. If you are trying to identify a suitable research supervisor, feel free to contact any suitable member of the academic staff, or consult our Head of Subject, Professor Ronald Hutton.
The department seminar, attended by all academic staff and taught and research postgraduates (respectively known as PGTs and PGRs), forms the focus for all research activity. Speakers are a combination of invited external authorities and Bristol researchers, including PGRs who present several papers during their studies. It is here that staff and students are able as equals to receive and criticise new research. This is also the forum in which new ideas have emerged for research projects which have subsequently received AHRC (and other institutional) funding, most recently the militarised landscapes project (Coates and Cole; AHRC); and in which, conferences have been organised (for example, Bull organised a Colston Research Symposium on Eleanor of Aquitaine and has another imminent on Tudorism). Department seminars are supplemented by School of Humanities seminars, held four times per year, in which Historical Studies is actively involved, most recently as a forum in which progress with another AHRC-funded project ('Robert the Monk', Bull: AHRC) will feature this autumn. The Department's research environment thus seeks to reap the potential synergies offered by School and Faculty structures. History staff play a leading role in the Faculty-wide Colonialism Research Theme and its associated Research Centre; staff are also active and productive contributors to the Medieval Cultures Theme and its renowned Research Centre (established 1994). In deciding whether you might like to further your education in the Department please have a look at the seminar programme of current and past years. This will give you a strong sense of the exciting activities which the Department organises and its academics have generated over recent years.
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Faculty research centres and themes
Members of the Department are closely involved in the following Faculty and cross-Faculty research centres:
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Other institutional research links
Staff and 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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Externally funded major research projects
Significant external funding has been received over the past few years for the following ongoing or recently completed major research projects:
- 'British Historical Statistical Project', 2009. Participants: Professor Roger Middleton in collaboration with Professor Nigel Goose (Hertfordshire) and Professor Michael Turner (Hull).
- 'The Penguin Archive Project', AHRC research grant, 2008-12. Participants: Professor John Lyon (English), George Donaldson (English), Hugh Pemberton (Historical Studies), Ika Willis (Classics).
- 'Colonialism in comparative perspective: Tianjin under 9 flags', ESRC research grant, 2008-11. Participants: Professor Robert Bickers in collaboration with Dr Maurizio Marinelli (CEAS, University of Bristol), Professor Nikki Cooper (Swansea).
- 'Identification of historic meteorological records to support research into climate change', AHRC Knowledge Catalyst partnership, 2008. Participants: Professor Robert Bickers, Dr Catherine Ladds, Dr Rob Allan, ACRE (Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions over the Earth), Hadley Centre, Meteorological Office.
- 'An Archive for China: Photographs in British Collections', British Academy Research Project, 2007-12. Participants: Professor Robert Bickers, Jamie Carstairs. Project site: Historical Photographs of China.
- 'Owning and Disowning Invention: Intellectual Property, Authority and Identity in British Science and Technology, 1880-1920', AHRC, 2007-11.
Participants: Professor Christine MacLeod in collaboration with Dr Graeme Gooday and Dr Gregory Radick (University of Leeds).
- 'The Historia Iherosolimitana of Robert the Monk', AHRC, 2007-11.
Participants: Professor Marcus Bull, Dr Damien Kempf and doctoral student Steven Biddlecombe.
- ‘Militarized landscapes in 20th century Europe’, AHRC, 2007-10.
Participants: Professor Peter Coates, Dr Tim Cole, Dr Chris Pearson, Icon Films, Ministry of Defence Environmental Support Team
- Ireland-Bristol Trade in the Sixteenth Century, ESRC, 2006-08
Participants: Dr Evan Jones, Ms Susan Flavin, Dr Brendan Smith, Professor Raymond Gillespie
- The Celestial and the Fallen: Angels and Demons in Spanish America, Leverhulme Trust Major Research Project, 2005-08
Participants: Dr Fernando Cervantes, Dr Andrew Redden
- The Official History of the Civil Service since Fulton, Cabinet Office, 2000-08
Participant: Professor Rodney Lowe
- The History of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, AHRB, 2003-07
Participants: Professor Robert Bickers , Dr Weipin Tsai, Catherine Ladds, Rosanne Jacks
- The Image of the Druid in Britain, 1500-2000, AHRB, 2003-06
Participants: Professor Ronald Hutton, Dr Joanne Parker
- England and Ireland 1170-1485 : a guide to documents in the PRO, ESRC, 2002-03
Participants: Dr Brendan Smith, Dr Paul Dryburgh
- Economic policy under the Conservatives, 1951-64 : a guide to documents in the PRO, ESRC, 1998-2002
Participants: Professor Rodney Lowe; Professor Roger Middleton; Dr Neil Rollings
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Other funded research projects
Research initiatives often begin as small projects with 'seed-corn' funding from within the University or from external bodies. Current / recent initiatives of this type include:
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Recent Research Fellowships
- Professor Robert Bickers, 'The Internationalization of China' (2008-09
- Dr Evan Jones, 'The Smuggler's trade in 16th century England' (2006-07)
- Professor Christine MacLeod, 'Heroes of Invention: celebrating the industrial culture of nineteenth-century Britain' (2004-05)
- Dr Penny Galloway, 'The Women at the Gate: the cities of French Flanders and their Beguines, 1200-1500' (2003-04)
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
Leverhulme Research Fellowships
ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellowships
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Some recent major conferences
- 'Reassessing the 1970s', Centre for Contemporary British History 2010 summer conference at the Institute for Historical Research, London. Organised by Drs Hugh Pemberton and Lawrence Black (Durham).
- 'The Celtic Sea World, 1400-1700', 2-3 September 2008.
- 'The British World', 11-13 July 2007. Co-hosted with University of the West of England.
- 'Settlers and Expatriates: Britons over the seas' (Oxford history of the British Empire) (British Academy part-funded), Dr Robert Bickers, 15-16 October 2005.
- 'Why has it all gone wrong? The past, present and future of British pensions', 15 June 2005, British Academy, a one-day symposium convened by Dr Hugh Pemberton , Professor Pat Thane (IHR), and Professor Noel Whiteside (Warwick). (Funded by the British Academy, Zurich Financial Services and BandCE Benefit Schemes).
- 'Celtic romanticism and gothic revisionism', 15-16 January 2005, Burwalls Conference Centre, Bristol. Organised by Professor Ronald Hutton and Dr Joanne Parker in association with Otago University's Department of English (part-funded by the British Academy).
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