Research in history and art history

Internationally recognised research excellence in the fields of social and cultural history

History at Plymouth has an established tradition of internationally recognised research excellence in the fields of social and cultural history – which broadly defined encompasses expertise in early modern religion, gender and sexuality, Victorian and twentieth-century British society, politics, crime and law; modern labour history, popular politics, modern US politics and civil rights – as well as in modern political, maritime, military and diplomatic history, the British Empire and modern China and Japan. We also have research strengths in Heritage, Public History and Oral History, Eighteenth-Century Architectural History, Maritime History, and Archives and Digital Humanities.
History at Plymouth houses Cornerstone Heritage, Plymouth Heritage Praxis, and is the academic home of Histories of the Unexpected (directed by James Daybell and TV presenter, historian and Honorary Research Fellow at Plymouth, Sam Willis).

Research impact

Researchers in History are actively engaged with stakeholders outside the University context, to contribute to meaningful and tangible benefits for people, the environment, and communities. 
REF2021 Impact Case Study
Professor James Daybell, New Technologies and changing lives: Histories of the Unexpected.

History research specialisms and associated staff

Early modern


Maritime history

War and society

Early Modern Europe

Gender history

History of sexuality

Crime and society

History of the book and Renaissance letters

Diplomatic and political history

Global and transnational histories

Modern German history

Early modern Irish and modern Irish history

Early modern British history

Modern British history

Modern Japan

History of the USA and transatlantic cultures

Early modern French history

Material culture and histories of British / transatlantic landscape and building

Cultural and social history

Oral history

Heritage, public history and local history

Modern Chinese history

Art history research specialisms

  • The history of collecting and curating.
  • Postcolonialism and art history.
  • Meta-painting in Western visual culture.
  • Political iconography and representations of sexual violence in Medieval and Renaissance Italy.
  • The reception of the Renaissance and Renaissance artists from 1750 to the present.
  • The history and practice of art historical writing in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Our researchers

Postgraduate research opportunities

Digital research repository

The School of Society and Culture (SSC) is home to a diverse collection of researchers working in the social sciences, humanities and performing arts. We’re dedicated to advancing knowledge for public benefit, driving meaningful change in our society and enriching communities (be they near us or an ocean away). Visit our digital repository of staff research to watch short videos from academics working across the School’s disciplines: Anthropology, Art History, Computer Music, Creative Writing, Criminology, English, Environmental Cultures, Heritage, History, International Relations, Law, Music, Politics, Sociology, Theatre and Performance.