The School of Humanities excels in innovative research that celebrates the value and variety of human experience and the many ways in which it can be expressed.
Working with literary, historical, and visual texts from the classical world to the present day, we contribute through our research and public engagement to a greater understanding of how societies represent themselves, how events are recorded, how people engage with the world around them, and what it means to be human.
Covering a rich range of themes, we investigate the formation and dissemination of beliefs and ideologies, the lived experience of individuals, cultural discourses, material texts and their meanings, and the significance of the past in shaping the present.
Using our research in teaching, we develop student skills in critical thinking, problem solving, and communication that employers value.
Our research is published in high-quality journals and books and we communicate widely to the public through web pages, blogs, social media, broadcast media, public events, and the mainstream press.
The School of Humanities is the largest of the three Schools in the Faculty of Arts with more than 100 researchers. We cover a range of disciplines – Classics, English, History, History of Art, and Religion and Theology – which provide a strong platform for collaborative and interdisciplinary research.
While our research in the School is historically wide-ranging and thematically diverse, we share a commitment to the importance of knowledge transfer, the benefits of the humanities as a social good, and the study of the past to inform the present. The School’s research mission, supported by the School Research Director, is:
- To undertake high-quality research that enhances understanding of the contemporary world
- To achieve diversity and inclusivity through collaborative research
- To support the School’s priorities regarding the Research Excellence Framework and external grant funding
- To disseminate our research widely through scholarly and popular channels
- To promote the Humanities as a vital agent of social well-being and progress
Research in the School is conducted by individuals and groups within departments and also more widely in collaboration with colleagues across the School, Faculty, and university. Each department in the School has its own discipline-specific research priorities and methodologies, while contributing to the School’s commitment to collaborative projects, research excellence, and the development of external grant bids.
Departments within the School of Humanities are known internationally for their research and are ranked among the leading departments of their kind in the UK.
Classics and Ancient History
A pioneer in the field of classical reception in the modern world, with additional strengths in literature and historiography in the Greek and Roman worlds
Promoting a global perspective through research that encompasses literatures in English from the UK and around the world, based on core values of textual scholarship
With an emphasis on public engagement, the department has strengths in medieval and early modern history; colonial, global and transnational history; and contemporary history
History of Art
Providing a significantly wide coverage of art history from the medieval to the contemporary, in the UK, Europe, and beyond
Religion and Theology
Focusing on research in Buddhism and Judaeo-Christian studies, drawing on textual studies, religious practice, and inter-religious dialogue
Faculty research centres
The School of Humanities contributes to the following Faculty Research Centres and Faculty institutes:
- Centre for Black Humanities
- Centre for Environmental Humanities
- Centre for Health, Humanities and Science
- Centre for Material Texts
- Centre for Medieval Studies
- Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition
- Bristol Poetry Institute
Research collaborations in the School are supported through department and Faculty research clusters, which are theme-based or period-based and bring scholars together across traditional boundaries to generate innovative projects, grant applications, and public engagement.
Faculty Research Clusters which are led by staff in Humanities are:
Borders and Borderlands
Exploring the cultural and political implications of borderlands in medieval and early modern Europe, in the context of modern border controls and border anxieties
Early Modern Studies
Drawing together cross-disciplinary activities at Bristol and strengthening connections with early modernists in the GW4 group of universities
The Embodied Mind
Focusing on cognitive approaches to humanities and the study of culture
Developing new approaches to the study of feminism in a global context, from the perspectives of methodology, pedagogy, and artistic production
Exploring histories of slavery and its aftermath in the modern world
Modern Britain Research
A large interdisciplinary cluster focusing on social and political history in Britain from the nineteenth century to the present day
Oral History Research
Discussing and sharing oral history methodologies across departments and faculties and also engaging with the city of Bristol and the region
The Perspective from the Sea
Promoting interdisciplinary research and collaborations with Bristol institutions dedicated to the city’s maritime history
Examining the forms of tragedy across a wide range of disciplines and time periods, from classical tragedy through Shakespeare to modern writers and playwrights
Studying modernist cultural dialogues and visual exchange within and across nation states and national borders
An interdisciplinary group studying aspects of urban culture across the time period from ancient to modern cities
University of Bristol Institutes
Researchers in the School of Humanities have interdisciplinary contacts and projects with these University of Bristol Institutes:
The School has a critical mass of researchers studying the environment through the lens of history and literature.
Elizabeth Blackwell Institute for Health Research
Medical Humanities is a significant strength in the School of Humanities and our researchers in this area find collaborators and seed-funding for larger grant proposals through the EBI.
Established to bring humanities research into dialogue with audiences outside the university, Brigstow is an important source of collaboration, knowledge exchange, and seed-funding for many of our research projects.
Bristol Institute for Migration and Mobility Studies
Researchers in historical and textual studies are engaged with migration and mobility as historical and social phenomena which find expression through text and image.
Research in the Faculty
Our research forms part of the overall research activities and strategies of the Faculty of Arts.
Active research projects
For a list of current research projects in the school, please see the faculty research website's list of active research projects.
Looking to join us?
Interested in being a visiting researcher?
If you would like to be a visiting researcher at the University of Bristol, please see the School of Humanities' guidelines for visiting researchers, where you will also find an application form.