About the Department of History

We’re committed to historical research and teaching that involves the discovery of new knowledge, the cultivation of new questions and ideas, and the expansion of understanding about how human societies have developed over time and across space. 

Our research interests range from the ancient world to contemporary global history, from East to West. We explore topics as diverse as the buildings of the Roman empire, the clothing of the Tudor and Stuart courts and concepts of peace and peacefulness in twentieth-century China.

Our academic staff conduct research in archives around the world as well as in our own Hartley Collections. They regularly win awards for the excellence of their research, including:

We place the spirit of intellectual discovery at the heart of the education we offer, and we communicate the new knowledge that our research produces to audiences beyond the academic community.

For example, we have a long-standing commitment to Holocaust education. Our staff have informed UK government policy in Holocaust commemoration and shaped major museum projects around the world. We have also involved local publics in conversations about race, migration, and multiculturalism. An exhibition at the John Hansard Gallery explored how BBC programming in the 1960s shaped British Asian identities and sense of belonging.

We believe that rigorous and creative research empowers all of us to ask critically what a better future might look like.

A camera person films Priti Mishra
Dr Priti Mishra led on a project on the impact of BBC programming on British Asian culture since the 1960s, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Our vision

Studying history requires investigation. To be a historian is to embrace the challenge of understanding a different world. This involves meeting it on its own terms, studying it closely, tracing continuities, explaining change, and finding vantage points to make sense of the whole. 

Our mission is to explore the past. As world-class researchers, we are actively engaged in the generation of new knowledge about human societies across global space, from the era of Greek antiquity to the recent ‘war on terror’. 

As educators, we provide students with orientation, the skills needed to navigate these worlds and regular guidance along the way. We equip students to pioneer their own trails, with confidence. We find out a good deal about ourselves and today’s society through exploration of the past. 

Historian Mark Stoyle poses for the camera underground wearing a yellow hard hat
Mark Stoyle, undertaking research on the water system of early modern Exeter.

Our culture

We have a friendly, open and supportive teaching culture. Our learning community extends beyond the classroom, including through: 

  • individual consultations with teaching staff on the development of essays
  • systems of pastoral support for students facing difficulties
  • staff-student social events

Our research culture is equally supportive. We value the informal exchange of ideas so we can learn from each other. Our research centres also provide a lively forum for academic discussion and interdisciplinary collaboration. 

Their seminar programmes provide our own researchers with opportunities to share their work, and they bring distinguished visiting speakers to our campus. Making our research seminars hybrid events allows us to establish connections between international audiences and local ones.

Our centres include the:

  • Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations
  • Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies (CIPCS)
  • Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CMRC)
  • Southampton Centre for Nineteenth-Century Research (SCNCR)

Public engagement and impact

The department has a long-standing commitment to working with public bodies and other external partners to make a difference in the world beyond the university.

For example, the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations draws on our academics’ expertise in Jewish history when designing their workshops for colleges, adult learners, interfaith and community groups, and educators.

We also engage a broad demographic of learners locally and regionally. For example, we offer life-long learning programmes of evening study and develop teaching materials for schools.

We engage with regional, national and international museums and galleries through our heritage work, which helps inform the presentation of the past to wide audiences, and our consultancy work with policymakers on teaching about the Holocaust and other difficult pasts springs from our ethical commitment to shaping a better future.

The hands on humanities team of six people pose for the camera
We engaged with 400 members of the public at the 2023 Hands on Humanities Day.


We work hard to make sure all our activities are sensitive to the diverse needs and interests of our students and public audiences.

Over the past decade, we have established the annual Stonewall lecture series. This brings cutting-edge researchers to Southampton as a marker of our commitment to deeper understanding of LGBTQ+ histories. 

Through understanding past persecution or tolerance we are better able to contextualise our current understanding of LGBTQ+ identities in a heteronormative world. 

We are also taking efforts to decolonise our curriculum. This means addressing the multi-directional connections and influences between the Europeanised world and the rest of humanity, as well as using inclusive teaching practices. We also make sure our approach and materials are accessible to all of our students.

Mark Cornwall at the Stonewall lecture with academic Jill Liddington
Mark Cornwall at the Stonewall lecture with academic Jill Liddington.

Our courses

Research and outreach

Find out about the department’s research activities and outreach efforts such as working with schools and teachers to develop teaching materials.

Our research community

Our research centres bring together specialists to share knowledge and solve problems.


The history community at Southampton - staff and students alike - shares a lifelong passion for history. Our knowledge of the past helps to shape our futures.
Head of Department
My research has focused on histories of charity, identity and self in interwar Britain. I’m now investigating how young people used telephones in the 1980s and 90s, and what it meant to them.
Associate Professor
As an historian I’m interested in reconstructing the lives of the ‘everyday’ people who worked within the maritime world of late medieval and early modern England
My research aims to understand the endurance of anti-Semitism in post-Holocaust Europe and how it has been perpetuated or challenged, especially in Poland.
Lecturer in Holocaust History

Work with us

  • A speaker, Elisabeth Becker, talks at a Parkes Institute event on our campus

    Work with us

    Find out about current opportunities at the University of Southampton, including any current vacancies in our department.

Contact us

Talk to us, we're happy to help

You can contact us by:
Student Office, Building 65, Faculty of Arts and HumanitiesUniversity of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Southampton SO17 1BF 
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm UK time

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