We focus on war and other instances of historical conflict and trauma, exploring how they affect not just combatants but society, culture and politics more widely.

We explore how a range of factors (age, gender, class, sexuality) shapes involvement in war and conflict, and the impact of war, conflict and trauma on people, communities and states in a variety of different historical settings. We are also interested in how people involved in or affected by war and conflict make sense of their experiences, in letters, diaries, memoirs, and interviews; in how individuals, communities and states ‘remember’ and commemorate wars and traumatic experiences in texts, monuments, and events; and in how and why these commemorative practices can be politicised and mobilised by subsequent generations for various different purposes.

Research strands

There are five major strands to our research within this cluster.

  • Research into early modern religious persecution and its commemoration, with particular focus on martyrdom in early modern England.
  • Research on British people’s experiences and memories of the two World Wars, with particular emphasis on emotional responses to grief and bereavement; and the gendering of wartime experience and memory.
  • Research into memories of the Great Famine in China and more broadly into state power in 20th-century China, especially through the prism of medical history and the interplay between public health campaigns and local healing practices.
  • Experiences of war and mass killing in 19th and 20th-century Russia and the Soviet Union and in Germany during the Second World War.
  • The social and cultural history of Weimar and Nazi Germany, with an emphasis on crime and policing and on the German Revolution of 1918-1919.

Our department also maintains a long-standing commitment to remembering the Holocaust. Related activities include participating in the University's Holocaust Memorial Week, organising the school's outreach project, the Dora Love Prize with local East Anglian schools, and producing the journal The Holocaust in History and Memory.

Research supervision

Our expert staff are happy to supervise postgraduate research in all of these areas. Please contact them directly for more information about supervision, or explore our research degrees and what to expect from a degree in the Department of History. You can also find out how to apply for postgraduate research at Essex, or use research finder if you are interested in searching for further research opportunities at Essex.

Lucy Noakes with Helena Bonham Carter
Essex Historian in Channel 4 documentary helps uncover extraordinary wartime stories

In this exciting Channel 4 documentary, Professor Lucy Noakes from the Department of History, helped actor Helena Bonham Carter uncover the experiences of her grandparent, Violet Bonham Carter, when she was working as an air raid warden during the Blitz.

Read the article

History degrees

Are you looking to study a history degree at undergraduate, masters or PhD level? In the Department of History, we have a variety of courses to choose from which cover a broad range of subjects. These include; modern history, art history, criminology, economics, literature, human rights, international relations, politics, film, and culture and society.

A degree in history is essential in helping to shape our future. Explore our courses, or visit our subject area to find out more about the degrees and modules that Essex has to offer.


Explore careers in history
Student in Square 4 circa 1972
Discover our cutting edge research at Essex

Use our research finder to explore research supervision opportunities, and learn more about the exciting research projects, groups and centres our academics and students are actively involved in at the University of Essex. You can also search for publications and seek out further opportunities for research collaboration. Simply search for your area of interest.

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Get in touch
Dr Felix Schnell Cluster Lead