I studied history at the University of Birmingham, receiving a BA in 2001, an MPhil in 2003 and a PhD in 2007. Since then I have taught at the universities of Birmingham, Durham and Essex, and Vanderbilt University in the US. I joined the Open University as a Lecturer in 2014.
My research focuses on politics and government, both local and national, in Elizabethan England. In the past, I studied these issues by way of the problems posed to the early modern polity by warfare, focusing on the Elizabethan wars against Spain (1585-1603); this was the subject of my doctoral thesis and my first book, War and Politics in the Elizabethan Counties (2012).
More recently, I have shifted to looking at politics in the context of the religious division of post-Reformation England. The long-term aim of this is to produce a book reassessing the impact of religious change on Elizabethan politics. In the shorter term, and as part of that larger project, I am working on a book on the career of Sir Christopher Hatton. This project investigates how a politician with very strong links to Catholics worked (and succeeded) within the ostensibly Protestant regime of Elizabeth I.
I would be happy to discuss supervising postgraduate research in any of these areas.
I am a member of the Early Modern Britain and Europe research group.
- War and Politics in the Elizabethan Counties (Manchester University Press: Politics, Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain series, 2012).
- 'How Protestant was the Elizabethan regime?', English Historical Review, 133:564 (October 2018), 1060-92 (currently free to access here).
- ‘Drama, politics and news in the Earl of Sussex’s entertainment of Elizabeth I at New Hall, 1579’, Historical Journal, 58:2 (June 2015), 343-66.
- ‘The practice and politics of troop-raising: Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex and the Elizabethan regime’, English Historical Review, 127:526 (June 2012), 566-91.
- ‘Securing the monarchical republic: the remaking of the lord lieutenancies in 1585’ (winner of the 2008 Sir John Neale prize), Historical Research, 84:224 (May 2011), 249-65.
- ‘William Lambarde on the politics of enforcement in Elizabethan England’, Historical Research, 83:219 (February 2010), 69-82.
- ‘If the Armada had landed: a reappraisal of England’s defences in 1588’, History, 93:311 (July 2008), 328-54.
- 'Warfare' in Understanding Early Modern Primary Sources, ed. L. Sangha and J. Willis (Routledge, 2016).
- ‘Henry Herbert, second earl of Pembroke and noble leadership in the Elizabethan provinces’ in Leadership and Elizabethan Culture, ed. P. Kaufman (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013).
- (with Janet Dickinson) ‘Just how nasty were the 1590s?’, History Today 64:7 (July 2014), 10-16.
- ‘Robert Peake (c1551–1619) and the Babington Plot’, British Art Journal 14:2 (2013), 65-7.
- ‘The Tudor state’, State Papers Online, 1509-1714, Cengage Learning EMEA Ltd, 2008.
- Reviews for English Historical Review, History, Journal of British Studies, Midland History, Reviews in History, Sixteenth Century Journal.
I am currently the Module Team Chair of A113 'Revolutions', a new interdisciplinary Level 1 module which looks at major turning points in the making of the modern world. In the past I have contributed to A223 'Early Modern Europe: Society and Culture, 1500-1780' and A111 'Discovering the Arts and Humanities'.
I am a convenor of the Tudor and Stuart History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research.