UoA 30 History

History at the University of Exeter is split between two campuses at Exeter and Penryn. Since 2008 we have increased the number of permanent academic staff on education and research contracts from 37.5 to 49.5 FTE. and have been awarded research grants worth more than £8million.

The department maintains a strong ethos of collegiality and mutual support allowing us to integrate early career staff quickly into our structures and share the knowledge and expertise needed for such a high level of collective performance.

Our overriding research strategy has two strands:

  1. To support staff in their individual aspirations and plans allowing them to develop their expertise and explore new and creative avenues of research.
  2. To work collectively to foster collaboration, share ideas and expertise, and make the best possible use of institutional infrastructure and support.

We are also involved with the University’s interdisciplinary Humanities and Social Science Strategy (HASS). The Medical Humanities theme is led by Professor Mark Jackson, and involves all those in the Centre for Medical History. We also have academics involved in Environment and Sustainability, Global Uncertainties, Science, Technology and Culture, and Identities and Beliefs.

Key results

  • 43 per cent of our research was assessed as world-leading (4*) which has more than doubled since the RAE in 2008.
  • This represents a national ranking of 8 for 4* research out of 83 submissions.

Impact case studies

NameSummary

Enhancing understanding of allergic diseases

Professor Mark Jackson’s research on the history of allergy and asthma, carried out in the Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter, has been successful in enhancing clinical, commercial and policy understandings of the social, political and cultural, as well as biological, determinants of allergic diseases in the modern world. It has also helped to raise public and patient awareness of historical trends in asthma and allergies and to increase public understanding of evolving methods of diagnosis, prevention and treatment through focused collaboration with the charity Asthma UK as well as through various outreach and engagement activities. Professor Jackson was appointed to the Centre of Medical History at Exeter in 1998.

Encouraging discussions about sex using historical objects

Sexual health is a key national and local priority, estimated to cost the NHS more than £700million a year. The research of Professor Kate Fisher into sexual behaviour and personal identity has informed a pioneering approach to improving young people’s wellbeing and sexual health. Working with schools, museums and charities, this methodology, which involves showing young people ‘erotic’ objects from museum holdings, has had a positive impact on young people’s mental and physical wellbeing, personal identity, social skills, personal resilience, confidence, sexual health and life chances. Its success has attracted further investment, and influenced sex education policy discussion. It has also enhanced the role of regional museums in effecting social change and well-being, informed debate on the relationship between the health and cultural sectors, created new economically beneficial partnerships, and shaped museum policy.

Supporting the professional development of air forces personnel

Professor Richard Overy’s research on key issues of air power history and theory has influenced how both UK and International air forces consider key areas of air power history and their application to current issues of air power doctrine and development. This has been achieved by contributing to the air forces continuing professional development through seminars and lectures to service audiences, participation in RAF history teaching evaluation, publication of key texts on air power issues used in service academies and regular engagement with academic and non-academic audiences on air power history.
Connecting Cornwall Dr Richard Noakes led ‘Connecting Cornwall’, a project working with the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum (PTM) from February 2009 - July 2012, looking at the lives and careers of the ‘ordinary’ men who operated the Victorian and Edwardian British submarine cable network. The project was fundamental in building a working relationship with PTM that now paves the way for future research-based collaborations. The exhibition also raised the profile of PTM. A new section of the website was created for PTM, greatly improving its online presence and user experience. Impacts on the public have included providing access to previously unseen archival material, preserving and displaying artefacts of cultural heritage and in educating people with regards to their local history. 

Re-presenting heritage through community research

Professor Henry French’s research into the use of landed property and the lives of the English gentry, undertaken since his appointment at Exeter in 2001, has contributed to a Knowledge Transfer Fellowship community engagement project. This project trained volunteer groups to explore the history and archaeology of the estate and gardens of Poltimore House, Exeter. By transforming the capacity of Poltimore House Trust (PHT) to run outreach activities, it significantly enhanced its educational work with young people and schools. By enriching the history of the estate’s almost unknown gardens, it gave the PHT a beacon project to publicise and enhance its wider re-development plans. By training community volunteers in historical and archaeological research, it made public involvement central to interpretation of historic landscapes, creating a template of sustainable heritage research that can be applied elsewhere.

 Research groups

GroupAbout the Group
Medieval The research interests of the medieval group cover the whole of the medieval period from the seventh to the fifteenth centuries, and much of western Europe. We have a particular strength in the cultural and religious history of the period. All group members are involved in the interdisciplinary Centre for Medieval Studies.
Early Modern The early modern group has particularly strength in English social history and also in the interface between history and literary studies. We collaborate closely with the English department via the Centre for Early Modern Studies. More specialist themes shared by group members include religious history, gender history, economic history, environmental history and medical history.
Medicine and Science

This group includes all the historians involved in the Centre for Medical History and two historians of Science. Their interests are united via the Centre’s second Wellcome Trust Strategic Award (2008-13) on Environments, expertise and experience: The transmission and boundaries of medical knowledge and practice.

Maritime

The activities of this group, which developed mostly through the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies but also in collaboration with the Centre for the study of War State and Society, continue to be strong in both the study of maritime trade and Naval history.

Imperial and Global This group encompasses research on the histories and legacies of colonialism in Africa, the Middle East and India, the experiences of Western Europe's colonial powers (especially Britain and France), and the impact of decolonisation across Western and Eastern Europe. It has particular strength in comparative studies of colonial violence, crime, policing and punishment.
War, State and Society

Via the Centre for the Study of War, State and Society, this group has particular interest in the wars and conflicts in the 20th Century, including both World Wars. Members of the group share specialist interests including colonial violence, prisoners of war, violence against civilian populations, genocide, the collective memory of war and conflict and the role of media in war and conflict.

Modern Politics and Policy 

The members of the Modern Politics and Policy group share an interest in the development of political processes, and the culture of politics, both in democracies and in non-democratic societies. Their research is concerned both with the ‘high politics’ of policymaking elites and with the ‘low politics’ of ordinary people’s engagement with elections and other political activities.

Research centres

CentreDescription
Centre for Medical History A Wellcome Trust funded research centre dedicated to advancing methods and areas of research within the history of medicine, and forging links with medical and health care professionals in the region.
Centre for Medieval Studies

The Centre for Medieval Studies provides the focal point for interdisciplinary scholarship and learning in a wide variety of subjects relating to the Middle Ages. 

It brings together a community of over thirty staff at Exeter University with interests and expertise in areas that include Archaeology, History, Arab and Islamic Studies, Law, Music, Theology, the literatures of England, Spain, Germany, France, and Italy, Food History, Material Culture, and the History of the Book.

Centre for Early Modern Studies This Centre capitalises on the exceptional concentration of scholars of the early modern era based at the University of Exeter. It provides a focus for intellectual exchange and interdisciplinary activity between academic staff and postgraduate students of the Departments of History, English, Drama, and Modern Languages.
Centre for the study of War State and Society
The Centre for the Study of War, State and Society provides a forum for staff and postgraduates in a number of disciplines linked by their shared interest in the impact of war on society. The Centre builds on the University's reputation for high quality research in military and naval history, area studies and politics.
Institute of Cornish Studies (ICS) The Institute of Cornish Studies (ICS) seeks to promote a greater knowledge of historical and contemporary Cornwall. As a partnership between the University of Exeter and Cornwall Council, the Institute combines academic research and teaching with community engagement.
Centre for Maritime Historical Studies The Centre was the first of its kind in a British university. It can call on a wide range of expertise in the University in maritime historical studies and seeks to promote research into economic, social, political, naval and environmental aspects of the British maritime past from the earliest times to the present day, drawing also on European and international experience.
Centre for the Study of Western Esotericism The purpose of the Exeter Centre for the Study of Esotericism (EXESESO) is to foster advanced research into historical and comparative aspects of the esoteric traditions from the Hellenistic period in late antiquity through the Renaissance and early modern period to the present.

UoA 30 History

History at the University of Exeter is split between two campuses at Exeter and Penryn. Since 2008 we have increased the number of permanent academic staff on education and research contracts from 37.5 to 49.5 FTE. and have been awarded research grants worth more than £8million.

The department maintains a strong ethos of collegiality and mutual support allowing us to integrate early career staff quickly into our structures and share the knowledge and expertise needed for such a high level of collective performance.

Our overriding research strategy has two strands:

  1. To support staff in their individual aspirations and plans allowing them to develop their expertise and explore new and creative avenues of research.
  2. To work collectively to foster collaboration, share ideas and expertise, and make the best possible use of institutional infrastructure and support.

We are also involved with the University’s interdisciplinary Humanities and Social Science Strategy (HASS). The Medical Humanities theme is led by Professor Mark Jackson, and involves all those in the Centre for Medical History. We also have academics involved in Environment and Sustainability, Global Uncertainties, Science, Technology and Culture, and Identities and Beliefs.

Key results

  • 43 per cent of our research was assessed as world-leading (4*) which has more than doubled since the RAE in 2008.
  • This represents a national ranking of 8 for 4* research out of 83 submissions.

Impact case studies

NameSummary

Enhancing understanding of allergic diseases

Professor Mark Jackson’s research on the history of allergy and asthma, carried out in the Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter, has been successful in enhancing clinical, commercial and policy understandings of the social, political and cultural, as well as biological, determinants of allergic diseases in the modern world. It has also helped to raise public and patient awareness of historical trends in asthma and allergies and to increase public understanding of evolving methods of diagnosis, prevention and treatment through focused collaboration with the charity Asthma UK as well as through various outreach and engagement activities. Professor Jackson was appointed to the Centre of Medical History at Exeter in 1998.

Encouraging discussions about sex using historical objects

Sexual health is a key national and local priority, estimated to cost the NHS more than £700million a year. The research of Professor Kate Fisher into sexual behaviour and personal identity has informed a pioneering approach to improving young people’s wellbeing and sexual health. Working with schools, museums and charities, this methodology, which involves showing young people ‘erotic’ objects from museum holdings, has had a positive impact on young people’s mental and physical wellbeing, personal identity, social skills, personal resilience, confidence, sexual health and life chances. Its success has attracted further investment, and influenced sex education policy discussion. It has also enhanced the role of regional museums in effecting social change and well-being, informed debate on the relationship between the health and cultural sectors, created new economically beneficial partnerships, and shaped museum policy.

Supporting the professional development of air forces personnel

Professor Richard Overy’s research on key issues of air power history and theory has influenced how both UK and International air forces consider key areas of air power history and their application to current issues of air power doctrine and development. This has been achieved by contributing to the air forces continuing professional development through seminars and lectures to service audiences, participation in RAF history teaching evaluation, publication of key texts on air power issues used in service academies and regular engagement with academic and non-academic audiences on air power history.
Connecting Cornwall Dr Richard Noakes led ‘Connecting Cornwall’, a project working with the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum (PTM) from February 2009 - July 2012, looking at the lives and careers of the ‘ordinary’ men who operated the Victorian and Edwardian British submarine cable network. The project was fundamental in building a working relationship with PTM that now paves the way for future research-based collaborations. The exhibition also raised the profile of PTM. A new section of the website was created for PTM, greatly improving its online presence and user experience. Impacts on the public have included providing access to previously unseen archival material, preserving and displaying artefacts of cultural heritage and in educating people with regards to their local history. 

Re-presenting heritage through community research

Professor Henry French’s research into the use of landed property and the lives of the English gentry, undertaken since his appointment at Exeter in 2001, has contributed to a Knowledge Transfer Fellowship community engagement project. This project trained volunteer groups to explore the history and archaeology of the estate and gardens of Poltimore House, Exeter. By transforming the capacity of Poltimore House Trust (PHT) to run outreach activities, it significantly enhanced its educational work with young people and schools. By enriching the history of the estate’s almost unknown gardens, it gave the PHT a beacon project to publicise and enhance its wider re-development plans. By training community volunteers in historical and archaeological research, it made public involvement central to interpretation of historic landscapes, creating a template of sustainable heritage research that can be applied elsewhere.

 Research groups

GroupAbout the Group
Medieval The research interests of the medieval group cover the whole of the medieval period from the seventh to the fifteenth centuries, and much of western Europe. We have a particular strength in the cultural and religious history of the period. All group members are involved in the interdisciplinary Centre for Medieval Studies.
Early Modern The early modern group has particularly strength in English social history and also in the interface between history and literary studies. We collaborate closely with the English department via the Centre for Early Modern Studies. More specialist themes shared by group members include religious history, gender history, economic history, environmental history and medical history.
Medicine and Science

This group includes all the historians involved in the Centre for Medical History and two historians of Science. Their interests are united via the Centre’s second Wellcome Trust Strategic Award (2008-13) on Environments, expertise and experience: The transmission and boundaries of medical knowledge and practice.

Maritime

The activities of this group, which developed mostly through the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies but also in collaboration with the Centre for the study of War State and Society, continue to be strong in both the study of maritime trade and Naval history.

Imperial and Global This group encompasses research on the histories and legacies of colonialism in Africa, the Middle East and India, the experiences of Western Europe's colonial powers (especially Britain and France), and the impact of decolonisation across Western and Eastern Europe. It has particular strength in comparative studies of colonial violence, crime, policing and punishment.
War, State and Society

Via the Centre for the Study of War, State and Society, this group has particular interest in the wars and conflicts in the 20th Century, including both World Wars. Members of the group share specialist interests including colonial violence, prisoners of war, violence against civilian populations, genocide, the collective memory of war and conflict and the role of media in war and conflict.

Modern Politics and Policy 

The members of the Modern Politics and Policy group share an interest in the development of political processes, and the culture of politics, both in democracies and in non-democratic societies. Their research is concerned both with the ‘high politics’ of policymaking elites and with the ‘low politics’ of ordinary people’s engagement with elections and other political activities.

Research centres

CentreDescription
Centre for Medical History A Wellcome Trust funded research centre dedicated to advancing methods and areas of research within the history of medicine, and forging links with medical and health care professionals in the region.
Centre for Medieval Studies

The Centre for Medieval Studies provides the focal point for interdisciplinary scholarship and learning in a wide variety of subjects relating to the Middle Ages. 

It brings together a community of over thirty staff at Exeter University with interests and expertise in areas that include Archaeology, History, Arab and Islamic Studies, Law, Music, Theology, the literatures of England, Spain, Germany, France, and Italy, Food History, Material Culture, and the History of the Book.

Centre for Early Modern Studies This Centre capitalises on the exceptional concentration of scholars of the early modern era based at the University of Exeter. It provides a focus for intellectual exchange and interdisciplinary activity between academic staff and postgraduate students of the Departments of History, English, Drama, and Modern Languages.
Centre for the study of War State and Society
The Centre for the Study of War, State and Society provides a forum for staff and postgraduates in a number of disciplines linked by their shared interest in the impact of war on society. The Centre builds on the University's reputation for high quality research in military and naval history, area studies and politics.
Institute of Cornish Studies (ICS) The Institute of Cornish Studies (ICS) seeks to promote a greater knowledge of historical and contemporary Cornwall. As a partnership between the University of Exeter and Cornwall Council, the Institute combines academic research and teaching with community engagement.
Centre for Maritime Historical Studies The Centre was the first of its kind in a British university. It can call on a wide range of expertise in the University in maritime historical studies and seeks to promote research into economic, social, political, naval and environmental aspects of the British maritime past from the earliest times to the present day, drawing also on European and international experience.
Centre for the Study of Western Esotericism The purpose of the Exeter Centre for the Study of Esotericism (EXESESO) is to foster advanced research into historical and comparative aspects of the esoteric traditions from the Hellenistic period in late antiquity through the Renaissance and early modern period to the present.