Skip to content The Open University


Research in the Department

Research conducted within the department ranges widely, from the sixteenth century right through to the 1990s. Although much of our work deals with Britain and Ireland, many members of the department have published research dealing with other countries, among them Germany, Italy, France, America, Malaysia, India, Kenya and Australia. Members of the department work on social, medical, religious, economic, military, family, cultural, global, international and political history. Research can be grouped in several main areas in which the department has particular strengths: Britain and Europe 1500-1800; Empire and Postcolonial Studies; History of medicine; History of policing and criminal justice; Britain and Ireland since the 18th century; War, conflict and politics in Europe.

Within these areas members work on topics as diverse as public history in museums, women investors in the eighteenth century, the British police, religious revivals in nineteenth-century Ireland, colonial India, women in early modern Britain, Scottish public health, and the causes of the First World War.  

Research Groups

The Department runs a number of research groupings which reflect the research interests of members of staff.

Members of the department are also active in multi-disciplinary research. Follow the links below for more details on our cross-faculty research groups:

History staff are also members of Harm & Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC), an interdisciplinary criminological research centre within the Open University.

Past projects

Until recent retirements the department had a strong group working in the history of chemistry. Follow the link above for information about members' current research.

Research Grants

Staff members have been awarded a wide range of external grants, from a wide variety of funding bodies, including Wellcome Trust, ESRC, AHRC and British Academy.

Current grants include:

  • Karl Hack (with Alex Tickell, English Department) AHRC-funded collaborative studentship with the Imperial War Museum, c. £55,000
  • Lotte Hughes, ESRC three-year project on ‘Cultural Rights and Kenya’s New Constitution’. 2014-17, £628,157
  • Rosalind Crone £177,131 from the AHRC for an Early Career Fellowship to research on  'Educating Criminals in Nineteenth Century England'.
  • Janice Holmes, AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award run in partnership with the Irish Temperance League,  2013-16, £54,500.

Wider activities

Department members engage in a wide range of research-related activities. They serve, for example, on the Standing Committee of the Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory Group (CHAT), the History (UK) Steering Committee, the Committee of the Crime and Punishment Museums, the Committee for the Social History Society, Libraries and Archives Network, the Council of the Economic History Society, and the German History Society. They also serve as associate editors at the Oxford DNB and as general editors of major academic series such as the History of Medicine in Context Series, published by Ashgate, and the Understanding Global Heritage series, published by Manchester University Press, and they are members of a number of editorial boards, such as The International Journal of Heritage Studies, Women's History Review, The Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology and British Journal for the History of Science.