Our Department

Our research

History books on a library shelf

Our commitment to groundbreaking historical investigation is reflected in more than two-thirds of our research being rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' (REF 2014).

Our Department was founded in 1972. Since then we have developed a strongly individual character. We pride ourselves on being a Department that refuses intellectual straitjackets. We enjoy the mix of areas and specialisms found along our corridors.

We have always been known for our friendly atmosphere, with good staff-student relationships and innovative teaching and learning methods that are reflected in consistently high student satisfaction ratings.

Wide-ranging research interests

The pattern of appointments to our Department has deliberately brought together a group of scholars with a wide range of approaches and fields: Britain, Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia are all represented, as are the relations between them. More than two-thirds of our research was rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' in the REF 2014.

Gareth explains why Essex, and History at Essex, is unique!

Gareth tells us why he enjoyed about studying in our Department of History and how he felt he was encouraged to be bold and experimental in his learning.

Our strengths

  • Comparative

    Although most of us have published specialist works which deal with particular countries and localities, we prefer not to study one country or region in isolation. Our concern in our teaching and research is with the larger historical issues. Concern with these necessarily leads to a comparative approach. Even where we study a particular phenomenon – whether racial segregation in the Americas or violence in early modern Europe – we are conscious that the best history is informed by knowledge of the phenomenon in other periods and societies.

    Our Department belongs to the Faculty of Humanities, which was set up by our University's founders precisely to break with intellectual parochialism of all kinds. We have never wavered from this commitment, to which our scholars specialised in non-European history make a particularly decisive contribution.

  • Interdisciplinary

    History at Essex has strong links with the Departments of Sociology, Government, Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies and Art History, and also with the Interdisciplinary Studies Centre which offers courses in American (US) studies, Latin American studies, European studies and liberal arts.

    We are also interested in theory, but are not theoretical in any dogmatic sense. Students interested in using concepts – whether derived from sociology, psychoanalysis, political economy or philosophy – in their research will find a congenial and testing environment here.

  • International

    In line with our commitment to comparative history and global perspectives, our teaching and research team is international. Our corridors are cosmopolitan. Several members of staff are from overseas, and they bring with them contacts and concerns that complement those of their colleagues from Britain. A high proportion of our postgraduate student body in particular is international, and as an international student you'll find that a number of your teachers were themselves once overseas students, and that they are aware of both the difficulties and excitement of study away from your home country. All undergraduate students at Essex also have the opportunity to study abroad.

  • At the cutting edge

    By describing ourselves as 'at the cutting edge', we do not mean merely that a number of our scholars are leaders in their fields, nor that history at Essex incorporates dimensions not found elsewhere. We mean that the nature of much of the work undertaken in the Department is breaking new ground.

Undergraduate study

History graduates

From the global to the local, undergraduate study in history at Essex lets you plot your own intellectual journey through the past while honing the research and critical thinking skills prized by today’s employers.

Postgraduate study

Postgraduate student from the Department of History

We are a leading centre for history postgraduate study at both Masters and PhD level. Become part of our active research community and benefit from the expert teaching and supervision of our academic staff.

Watch our videos

Screenshot from student interview video

Watch a taster lecture, hear our students’ opinions of their study experience and see our staff talking about their latest research. Our videos will show you the passion and enthusiasm that we offer.

AHRC funding

PhD student in library

Apply for a PhD studentship for your doctoral study funded by the Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).