We welcome applications for the degree of PhD. Expert supervision is offered in a wide range of topics, from early medieval to contemporary history, and from the British Isles and Southern Europe to North America and the Caribbean, North Africa and the Mediterranean, India and Singapore. Our research embraces socio-economic, cultural, political, religious and intellectual history, and often has an innovative cross-disciplinary emphasis.
To give you some idea of the general and specific areas in which our PhD students are currently researching:
Medieval and Early Modern History
The department has considerable strength in medieval and early modern research. Current and recent PhDs include studies of regional landholding in medieval Yorkshire and the Scottish borders; settlement in Viking-age Cumbria; saints’ cults and hagiography in England and Scandinavia; monastic spirituality; crusading and pilgrimage; and legal processes in medieval England. Several recent PhD students undertook research relating to a major AHRC-funded research programme, ‘The Norman Edge: Identity and State-Formation on the Frontiers of Europe, c.1050-1200’ (2008-11). This project exemplified two complementary strands of medieval research in the department: lordship, politics and religion and space, boundaries and cultural interactions.
20th Century Europe
The Department’s strengths in 20th century European history, particularly Russia, Spain, Germany and fascism, are reflected in current and recent PhD research on music at the Terezin concentration camp, on Czech national identity, on Jewish cemeteries in Germany and Austria and political violence in European cinema.
Regional and national identity
Current and recent PhDs have examined British Gibraltar and its frontier; Gibraltar’s moneyed class; white émigré identities in colonial East Africa; the TT races and Manx identity; regimental and regional identities in the West Country in the First World War, Britishness and citizenship in school textbooks; Britain and the Czechoslovak crisis of 1938; cartoon prints and national identities in England and Denmark c.1780-1830); gender identities and the military (eg homosexuality in the armed forces); social categories among prisoners of war; the experiences of migrants (orphan children sent to Canada 1870-1930; Poles arriving in Britain after 1945), and the past and collective memory (US war memorials in Europe after World War II; the commodification of history as popular culture).
Regional History of the English North West
A traditionally strong area of research is the varied experiences of regional identity. The North West and its rich archival legacy reveal the national and indeed international importance and distinctiveness of an area which stretches from the Scottish borders to Cheshire. Recent and current studies postgraduate students associated with the cluster include such diverse topics as Catholic recusancy in Cumberland and Westmorland; the social development of East Lancashire townships in the 19th century; publicans and beerhouse keepers in Lancashire c. 1880-1914; employer-provided housing in south Cumbria c. 1850-1939; the Cumberland county police force; cooperative textile mills in East Lancashire, and the ‘seamen’s sixpence’ (early insurance scheme) and North West shipping. The Department’s association with research ventures such as the Victoria County History of Cumbria are important in this area.
The Department is particularly strong in the fast-developing area of Digital Humanities. Our staff provide supervision about how digital technology can be employed to enhance research methodology, both using large textual data and images. This expertise can be used to enhance quantitative research about any historical period, and can also provide qualitative analysis of historical topics. Current examples include students working on 19th-century attitudes to migration in the nineteenth-century, representation of places in British Newspapers or using large amounts of census data to chart patterns of migration from Ireland to England and Wales.