Elaine Murphy

Academic profile

Dr Elaine Murphy

Associate Professor In History
School of Society and Culture (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)

The Global Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Elaine's work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

Goal 05: SDG 5 - Gender Equality

About Elaine

Associate Professor of Maritime and Naval History Associate Head of School for Education and Student Experience (March 2023-present) I have worked at the University of Plymouth since 2013. I was Associate Head of School for History and Art History from 2017-2020. In that time I have developed a number of exciting new maritime history modules in the University: HIS5002 Royal Navy in the Age of Sail and HIS6006MX Piracy and Privateering, 1560-1816. I am currently the Programme Lead for MA Maritime History and have helped to develop new modules such as MAHI728 Maritime Explorations and Encounters for this programme.  I lead field trips with a maritime flavour to the Historical Dockyard in Portsmouth and Royal Museums at Greenwich each year. I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations on a range of maritime history topics.  I am a member of the Marine Institute Steering Group at the University of Plymouth. My research interests include early modern maritime history, the British Civil Wars of the 1640s and 1650s, the writings and speeches of Oliver Cromwell. In 2018 Dr Richard Blakemore and I co-authored The British Civil Wars at Sea, 1638-53(Boydell, 2018). This was nominated for the Military History Matters Book of the Year award in 2019 and received a Certificate of Merit from the Society for Nautical Research in 2019 My current research focuses on the experiences of women with the Royal Navy in the 17th Century. It examines women who traveled on naval vessels and their experiences, women who did business with the navy such as contractors, the wives and widows of sailors. This project sheds light on the roles and opportunities available to women in early modern British society. To date I have held a Caird Short term fellowship at the Royal Museums in Greenwich and a Edith and Richard French Fellowship at the Beinecke Library to undertake research for this project. From February 2022-January 2023 I was a Leverhulme Research Fellow undertaking research on this project. I'm happy to discuss potential PhD supervision in early modern history and maritime history with a focus on the British Civil Wars; Oliver Cromwell; 17th and 18th Century naval/maritime history; pirate history. I'm also on Twittter: @PlymPrivateer

Supervised Research Degrees

I have supervised ResM and PhD students on topics ranging from the Caribbean in the 17th century to submarine development in the Royal Navy in the 20th centuryI am always happy to talk to potential students about research in the following areas
  • British Civil Wars and Oliver Cromwell
  • 17th century British and Irish history
  • Maritime/naval history before 1815 especially topics such as piracy/privateering
  • Women and the sea


I teach extensively in the first year and offer specialist maritime history modules in second and third yearFirst Year:
HIS4001: What is History
HIS4002: America, from settlement to empire, 1607-1900
HIS4004: Culture, Society and Politics in Britain, 1640-1990
HIS4005: Fighting for Survival: Living and Dying in Early Modern Europe
Second Year:
HIS5002: Royal Navy in the Age of Sail, 1545-1815
Third Year:
HIS6006MX: Piracy and Privateering, 1560-1816
Postgraduate Teaching:
MAHI704: Piracy and Privateering, 1560-1816
MAHI728: Maritime Explorations and Encounters
Areas of expertise for postgraduate supervision:
  • Maritime and Naval History especially piracy and women and the navy
  • Early modern Ireland and Britain: especially the Civil War period
  • Wars of the Three Kingdoms/British Civil Wars
  • Oliver Cromwell
  • Military Revolution