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 Good University Guide, 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.
Our Strategic Vision
The Department is undergoing significant expansion. This has allowed us to build on key research areas aligned with our existing strengths and our collaborations with the University’s research centres and institutes.
The expansion is facilitating the generation of trans-national, trans-historical and comparative work, which often leads to groundbreaking historical research. We have launched new MA programmes, and will be developing 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 through our widening participation programmes.
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 and South Asia, and the United States of America and of social, cultural, political, economic, religious, and gender history.
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.
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 the history of North East England.
The University Library, with its Archives and Special Collections, and the Durham Cathedral Library and Archives are 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. The department plays an active role in assessing and acquiring new archival resources, for example the new Lambton archive. We also make considerable use of these original sources in our teaching.