Find out more about self-funded PhD projects in areas where we already have supervisors active and engaged in the research topic in our School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
We welcome projects that explore Britain's relationship to the wider world in the early modern and modern periods.
The expanding academic field devoted to Britain and the wider world recognises that British history was not confined to the British Isles. It takes in issues of both formal and informal empire but also the way in which Britain was a global power, shaped by the cultures of other countries as much as it shaped them.
This can also take in the field of foreign policy and international relations but it could include attempts to decolonise British history, looking at the impact of people whose roots were in other countries. Other areas might include popular culture, material culture or work with museums deconstructing the process by which collections were made.
We have expertise in the history of the British Empire and, specifically, India since the nineteenth century. In addition, we are well placed to explore Anglo-American history and aspects of the Atlantic world.
These projects would contribute to the wider scholarly agenda of developing trans-national histories.
You are welcome to discuss potential projects with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
While there is a fairly wide historiography on British eugenics and ideas of degeneration, there are still areas to be explored, not least in relation to disability, race and class.
All members of the supervisory team have researched, currently research or are about to research aspects of eugenics and/or degeneracy. Bland has published on eugenics, gender and race and is currently revisiting eugenics and race in relation to ideas of mental disability. Carr has published on British eugenics, sterilisation and the Conservative party in the 1930s and one of Tullett’s current projects focuses on the senses, impairment, and inequality, 1650 to the present. In relation to the proposed period of 1880s-1945, this will inevitably necessitate his examining eugenical ideas and practices.
The Churchill Archives Centre located in Cambridge possesses the papers of certain members of the Eugenic Society, including George Pitt-Rivers and Winston Churchill, while the main papers of the Eugenics Society are located in the Wellcome Library in London, and thus not far to visit from Cambridge.
The History group at ARU has expertise in the histories of many forms of popular culture. We have supervised pioneering work on the history of darts and of early film.
We welcome projects that explore popular culture in its different forms. Thus, for example, we are interested in the development of popular literature and the press. We have expertise in the emergence of mass culture, including theatre, music hall, cinema and other forms of popular entertainment. At the same time, we include under 'popular culture', popular belief systems and ways of life. We have expertise in the role of empire in popular culture.
A particular interest would be projects that build upon Professor Rohan McWilliam's ongoing history of the West End of London. He welcomes projects that aim to delve more deeply into the world of West End entertainments since 1800. There is work that can be done on the histories of individual theatres, of popular performers or of genres such as melodrama.
We are also able to supervise topics in the histories of film and television, including research on audiences in the modern period.
Mikhail Gorbachev’s coming to power in the USSR in 1985 fundamentally changed domestic politics in the Soviet Union and Cold War relations. The reforms Gorbachev introduced shaped Russia’s domestic politics, society and international relations for the rest of the twentieth century, and aspects of the Soviet past still loom large in its outlook today. The literature is still emerging on the last years of the Soviet Union and the early years of post-Soviet Russia, and this means that there is plenty of scope for original research on a range of subjects.
At ARU, we welcome projects considering themes that explore Gorbachev’s socio-economic policies that fall broadly under the term perestroika, and his socio-democratic reforms, broadly defined under the umbrella of glasnost’, and projects exploring the nature of Russia’s transition from Soviet authoritarianism to liberal-democracy in the 1990s under Boris Yel’tsin.
Doctoral research focusing on how Mikhail Gorbachev changed the ways in which the USSR interacted with the world during early globalisation, and also how the world came to view the USSR more positively at the end of the Cold War, will be especially welcomed as these would be facilitated by mining the archives held at the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge, which holds the papers of Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock.
This is a project run by the Labour History Research Unit. We welcome projects devoted to the history of British Labour (defined both as the Labour Party but also trade unions, party members and working class political organisations). We reserve the right not to supervise projects outside our interests.
We can supervise the high politics of Labour including the policies of Labour governments but can explore the world of constituency party activists as well. We are concerned to develop more work on the political thought of Labour politicians (for example, Tony Crosland) or left wing intellectuals (for example, E.P. Thompson or Stuart Hall).
We have a particular interest in the gender politics of Labour, considering aspects of masculinity and femininity in the making of British socialism. We can provide supervision on the history of feminism and women's politics in the twentieth century. Another aspect is the relationship between Labour and other countries (the subject of our edited collection, Labour and the Wider World).
We encourage projects that explore left wing politics in the 1980s (building on our book Labour and the Left in the 1980s) but also want to open up the history of New Labour. An ongoing interest of the Unit is the relationship between British Labour and progressive politics abroad.
The building of the Berlin Wall added a new dimension to the Cold War as a physical barrier was added to the mental barriers that made up the Iron Curtain. This was followed by the Cuban Missile Crisis and the continued escalation of the US’s presence in Vietnam.
Yet in the following decade, a period of détente defined Cold War politics and the permanent threat of disaster gave way to hope of better relations. But by the early 1980s, the situation had worsened again and in 1983 the nuclear threat was at its highest since 1962. This heightened nuclear fear lasted until Mikhail Gorbachev took over as Soviet leader in 1985 and the Cold War began to come to an end.
Beneath this ebb and flow of Cold War relations, people made sense of global politics or enjoyed a moment of escapism through films, TV, songs, and literature, as popular culture either reflected their hopes or confirmed their fears of the realities of the Cold War world. Others however, developed new political cultures and helped to form transnational networks that fought against nuclear weapons or for human rights.
At ARU, we welcome projects considering themes that explore the various forms of Cold War culture – either popular or political, local or global – that helped to shape people’s lives as they lived in the shadow of the bomb. Projects exploring global interaction in this period are especially welcome as the historiography on this subject is still in its early days, meaning that there is a great opportunity for original research to be conducted.
The British and American entries into the Second World War in 1939 and 1941 have been the subject of much historiographical debate. The motives of Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and others have long been considered by historians both hostile and sympathetic to the various protagonists.
That said, there is much more to say about this decisive era – with recent historians bringing in prisms from gender to sexuality to newly illuminate the topic.
There is certainly the opportunity to do it. The Churchill Archives Centre located in Cambridge possesses the papers of Churchill, Leo Amery, Alec Cadogan and many other figures influential in the 1930s and 1940s. Elsewhere in the city, archives hold the collections of Stanley Baldwin and the economist John Maynard Keynes. Within the last decade or so, collections such as those of the fascist sympathiser George Pitt-Rivers have come to light.
At ARU we welcome applications considering (amongst many other themes) the interaction of political figures on both sides of the Atlantic, commonalities and differences between appeasement movements in the UK and US, and appeasement’s impact on relationships with other states, including France, Ireland and the then Dominions.
We as a team supervise PhDs on almost any aspect of Historical and Literary cultures covering the span from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.
The team has a great deal of supervisory experience and on a range of topics to include even musical, theatrical and technical cultures. Past PhDs have been on Edmund Burke; Lord Byron, William Blake; nineteenth and twentieth century theatre; Frances Burney; the Sea Gothic; Dickens; Detective fiction; Percy Shelley; Fantasy fiction; Vegetarian activists; Percy Grainger; Frederick Delius; Robert Southey; working class politics; and the Russian Revolution. We are a flexible team!
You can contact the team at:
The proposed interdisciplinary team, made up of an historian (Bland) and a sociologist (Skinner), work and teach on aspects of ‘race’ and racialisation in modern Britain.
Bland researches and publishes on the regulation and lived experience of British inter-racial relationships and the construction of mixed-race identities; she also teaches an MA History module, Race, Racism and Resistance in Modern Britain. Skinner researches the changing politics of 'race' and science and has published on genetics and identity politics and 'race' and forensic DNA.
The team would be interested in supervising applicants who, happy to work in an interdisciplinary manner, are wishing to examine any aspect of the above, particularly the ways in which despite the widespread recognition that ‘race’ is a social construct, ‘race’ and racism, both institutional and everyday, is still a lived reality.
Furthermore, the team are interested in proposals set to examine how ‘race’ is being reinscribed through new means, including via genetic research.
The interdisciplinary team is composed of an historian (Bland) and an historical sociologist/social policy researcher (Ryder).
Bland has researched philanthropic interventions into family life and sexuality for the period 1880s-1930s, as well as an examination of British social work regulation concerning mixed-race children for the period 1940s-60s. Ryder’s research has included a study of the policing of women and alcohol from the mid nineteenth century until the present.
The team welcomes interdisciplinary projects concerning regulation of family and/women in Britain in any time period over the last 150 years. These could include charting shifts in social work and philanthropic interventions, particularly in relation to domestic violence, sexual abuse, mothering or child removal. Projects on the surveillance and resistance of women working in the sex industry is another possible area of research.
The Russian Revolution and its consequences has attracted much interest from historians, political scientists and political thinkers in the last hundred years. The desire to know why Tsarism was overthrown and how the Bolsheviks succeeded in the grab for power in 1917, and why the Stalinist Communist Party acted in the way it did between 1929 and 1953 power, has fascinated and horrified students of Russia in equal measure.
At ARU, we welcome projects considering themes that explore the development of Russia’s democratic multi-party political system in 1917 and the emergence of a one-party state a year later, the making of the Stalinist state, the pressures the USSR experienced during the Great Patriotic War, and the spread of Soviet power across Eastern Europe at the start of the Cold War.
Projects such as these also allow for research on international perceptions of the USSR as a friend or foe, especially during the development of the communist system in the 1930s and the war and post-war years. The use of the archives held at the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge, which holds the papers of Winston Churchill and Ernest Bevin would greatly facilitate this aspect of the project.
If you have an idea for a project that does not align with one of the pre-defined projects above, please contact us at email@example.com