A leading centre for the study of History
Durham University History Department is one of the leading centres in the UK for the study of History, consistently ranked within the top three departments in the country by the Complete University Guide, the Times and Sunday Times, and the Guardian University Guide. We place research at the heart of our varied undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, inducting our students into a community of historians from the outset.
The Department is ambitious in its research aims. It has built expertise in several critical areas as well as making an explicit commitment to the kinds of trans-national, trans-historical, interdisciplinary and comparative work that often leads to ground-breaking historical research.
The Department is well connected to University research institutes and centres. Situated on Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Department’s staff and students enjoy access to the University’s important library and archival holdings.
The Department is excited to be expanding over the coming decade, growing by over 75% in staff and student numbers. The expansion allows us to build critical mass in key research areas aligned with our existing strengths and our collaborations with the University’s research centres and institutes.
The expansion will facilitate the generation of trans-national, trans-historical and comparative work that often leads to groundbreaking historical research. We have launched new MA programmes, and we will be looking to develop an increasingly dynamic postgraduate community over the coming years.
The Department has always provided exciting and engaged teaching, and this will remain a critical aspect of our work in the future, together with our desire to reach out to more of the most talented students in the UK and closer to home through our widening participation programmes.
We are ranked 2nd in the Complete University Guide 2019 and the Guardian University Guide 2019.
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Our research expertise and teaching provision extends from the early Middle Ages to the present day, and we are home to scholars of Europe (including the British Isles), Africa, East Asia, and the United States of America and of social, cultural, political, economic, religious, and gender history.
Our chronological range and breadth allows us to meaningfully engage in transnational, transhistorical and comparative work that cuts across several central disciplinary themes.
We have particular strengths in the history of theology and religion, social and economic history, science and medicine, genders and sexualities, political cultures, intellectual and cultural history, visual and material culture, and landscape and memory. The ability to come together around these themes brings us together as historians and makes Durham an exciting place to work, research and study.
The AHRC funded project on the Ordered Universe, led by Giles Gasper, brings together a unique configuration of natural scientists, social scientists and arts and humanities scholars, to integrate the conceptual tools of modern science with the textual methods of the humanities.
Using the works of English theologian and scientist Bishop Grosseteste, the project blends history and theology into mathematics. The connections between Faculties of Arts and Humanities and Science have been further consolidated with the work of Richard Gameson (History) and Andrew Beeby (Chemistry) using Ramen spectroscopy to study the inks and pigments used in medieval manuscripts, providing scientific evidence to map the changes in writing technology and the migration patterns of the manuscripts’ authors.
Two further projects are enhancing Durham’s reputation as a centre for exceptional historical research. Andy Wood’s ‘social relations and everyday life’ project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, explores the multiple ways in which inequalities of wealth and power were experienced, understood, accepted and contested in the 140 years before the English Revolution, while Justin Willis is investigating the chequered history of elections in sub-Saharan Africa.
Combining the techniques of history and political science, his project will re-examine the relationship between an individual's experience of elections and their political attitudes and behaviours and asks why it is that elections work better in some places and times than others.
Durham has unique research resources in particular areas: notably medieval history; political culture in the seventeenth century; the history of north-eastern Africa, especially Sudan; and in the history of North East England.
The University Library, with its Archives and Special Collections, and the Durham Cathedral Library and Archives together have historical resources of international significance. These include the medieval to modern archives of Durham Cathedral and Palatinate, medieval and early-modern book collections, modern manuscripts, the Sudan Archive, and extensive microfilm and online sources. Neighbouring record offices and libraries contain further rich historical collections.
We currently have 41 full-time academic staff. Our research expertise and teaching provision extends from the early Middle Ages to the present day, and we are home to scholars of Europe (including the British Isles), Africa, East Asia, and the United States of America and of social, cultural, political, economic, religious, and gender history.