History Research Centre

The History Research Centre encompasses a wide range of topics and periods, from childhood in ancient Egypt to memorialisations of the Second World War, and from crusading bishops to youth cultures in modern Britain.

We are proud of our strong engagement with the public and a wide range of external organisations, and of the way in which our research feeds directly into our teaching.

Read more about the History Research Centre

Research groups and centres

Our research is organised into four thematic research groups and our public engagement is led by the Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage.

Leisure, consumption and material cultures

Group leaders: Ben Edwards and Jonathan Spangler

This group which focuses on the ways in which leisure and consumption shape people’s lives and identities, along with their spatial and material environment, from city streets to country houses to sports fields. Members of the group focus on various different aspects of leisure and consumption, broadly conceived to include the public consumption of heritage.

The group has three important sub-themes: The history of sport and leisure or SpLeish focuses is on organised sports and how organisations and institutions have shaped ideas and practices of leisure.  Histories of consumption, which seeks to further our understanding of the impact of consumption on a wide variety of contexts. Key projects include a study of Granada in post-war Britain (Granadaland) and the EU-funded Comfort and the Country House). This research is being linked with projects elsewhere in the faculty (e.g. in Gothic Studies) through a new inter-disciplinary research network. Two journals are edited my members of this cluster: Court Historian and History of Retailing and Consumption. Community heritage and archaeology focuses on public consumption of and engagement with heritage. It examines the ability of heritage to increase public wellbeing, educational attainment and community cohesion and works in partnership with organisations including NERC and Cadw. More details can be found in the MCPHH pages.

The groups comprises:

Religious and Intellectual Histories

Group leaders: Dr Andrew Crome and Lloyd Strickland

Members of this group explore the beliefs, organised religion, and intellectual life of previous societies. This includes the cultural and social impacts of faith, along with past ideas, the thinkers who developed and shaped them, and the political, social, cultural, and intellectual contexts in which these ideas took shape. Our research utilises sources ranging from sacred objects and textual ephemera to the written texts that served as the vehicles of thought. By examining these sources, we seek to understand the beliefs and ideas of the past. We explore the assumptions behind these ideas, and the historical figures who developed them. Our research is cross- and inter-disciplinary, embracing a variety of methodologies and approaches, reflecting the group’s diverse theoretical and conceptual base.

Our chronological and geographic range includes (but is not limited to) ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Medieval England and Wales; Byzantine Empire and Anatolia; Tudor and Stuart England; Buddhist networks in South and Southeast Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Burma/Myanmar), modern Europe (from the seventeenth century onwards), nineteenth century Asia; contemporary Britain and America.

The group includes:

War, Conflict and Society

Group lead: Dr Mercedes Penalba-Sotorrio and Marcus Morris

We are interested in exploring the many ways in which war and conflict shape society, and how the transformations and challenges of wartime are translated into and influence post-war societies. Our current research covers a broad range of topics, with a particular focus on: the psychology of combat in Ancient Greece; the study of conflict in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period with a particular interest in the Crusades and the Anglo-Scots wars; ideas of neutrality and challenges to the international order; wartime propaganda; the interaction between the memorialisation of war and nation-building processes; the intersection of military operations, diplomacy and American politics during the first half of the twentieth century; religious and racial conflict; technology and the utilisation of animals in wartime; and the application of a gender lens to the study of home fronts, in order to problematize traditional narratives of war. While we recognise the importance of conflict in history, we also aim to highlight how war is inevitably linked to peace. For that reason, we are equally interested in the study of conflict resolution, pacifism and political opposition to war, looking particularly at political and activist groups formed as a response to the outbreak of war. 

This group maintains a strong commitment to public engagement. We are currently collaborating with the Voices of War and Peace Centre in the centenary celebrations of the First World War, focusing particularly on domestic responses to the war and the lasting impact the conflict had over young people in the Northwest. The group is also home to the Northern Network for the Study of the Crusades, a collaborative, multi-institutional and interdisciplinary regional hub of academic staff and postgraduates who work on the crusades and related fields of enquiry.

The group includes:

Youth, Gender and Sexuality

Group leaders: April Pudsey and Craig Griffiths 

Members of this group explore the cultural meaning attached to youth, gender and sexuality in historical contexts. Our wide-ranging research links together influences of biology and behaviour on one another in different cultural contexts, and the ways in which particular social, political and religious groups have treated, and responded to, these areas of life. We seek to restore agency to those minority voices from the past, which have been muted by broader narratives of social and political change: children, adolescents, women, non-binary gendered, and Queer persons. The group promotes the study of history from the ‘bottom up’ and realign studies of history to focus specifically on these minority voices and their concerns, as a point of historical interest in their own right.

Our chronological and geographic range currently includes: Ancient Egypt and Classical Antiquity; 18th century England; 19th century Southern US; Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany; Soviet Russia; and 20th century Britain. Methodological approaches of the group stretch beyond the historical disciplines and are drawn from the social sciences, performance and the arts, and bioarchaeology.

The group comprises:

Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage

Centre lead: Dr Sam Edwards

The Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage (MCPHH) explores the complex economic, social and cultural inter-relationships which connect people, places and the past, from the choices made in conserving and commemorating visual and material culture to the intangible practices of heritage handed down from generation to generation.

The MCPHH emphasis on encouraging communities and individuals to engage actively with history builds on the long-established work of the Manchester Centre for Regional History, established in 1998. Its many engagement projects include community archaeology, collaborative partnerships with museums and archives across the UK, and international heritage research in Europe and south Asia. The Centre aims to bridge the gap between academia and the public and become recognised internationally for excellence in publicly engaged research.

Telephone: 0161-247-6793/1721

Twitter: @mcphh_mmu

Website: https://mcphh.org/

History Research Degrees  

Opportunities are available to study for a PhD on a full-time / part-time basis and through distance learning.

History Research Degrees