History Postgraduates



Top 20 in the UK in The Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024

History Postgraduates

Our PhD students conduct research in a wide variety of subject areas--to find out more about their work click on the tabs below.

Marcus Brabban

Thesis title: ‘The Machiavelli of Mass Societies’: How influential was Le Bon and his ideas on the development of Anglo-American Culture during the early 20th Century


Research: The purpose of my research is to ascertain the impact of Gustave Le Bon on Anglo-American intellectual and political culture during the early 20th Century. Examining how his theory of ‘Crowd Psychology’ was interpreted by US and UK audiences from a diverse array of disciplines, such as sociology, public relations, political theory and psycho-analysis. Demonstrating the importance of Le Bon’s theories in helping shape our understanding of the ideological origins and evolution of key schools of thought developing within American and British institutions in a post-Fin de Siècle world. To aid me in this endeavour, my thesis will be supervised by Prof. Thomas Weber and Prof. Michael Brown.


Personal bio: Prior to the start of my PhD in 2018, I spent 4 years at Sussex University from 2012 to 2016, attaining a BA Joint Honours in History & Politics, and an MA in Contemporary History. The former engendered me towards inter-disciplinary study, facilitating my intellectual interest in psychology (abnormal and behavioural), criminology (Turvey and Ressler), Existential philosophy and Russian literature. Outside of academia, my interests include, football (long suffering Swansea City fan), movies, political activism, and travelling.

Jeremy Higgins

Thesis title: ‘Industrial Truce’: The British Economy, World War and labour relations on the railway, 1911 -1921

Research: Jeremy was a director of a UK railway company for 14 years and a reservist army officer for over 30 years. He is a comparative newbie, though, to the art of history. He completed an MLitt at the University of Aberdeen in 2016 on ambulance trains on the Western Front during the First World War, supervised by Professor Anthony Heywood and Doctor Ben Marsden. He is looking forward to their continued patience as he attempts to balance life as a railway employee and as a part-time researcher.  

Sandi Howie

Thesis title: The changing face of veterinary practice in Scotland in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the impact of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1881

Research: Sandi is just starting out on her PhD research and is grateful to have been awarded the Donald Withrington Scholarship and to have as her Supervisors Dr Ben Marsden, Prof Tony Heywood and Prof Marjory Harper. She holds a BSc in Geography (University of St Andrews), qualified as a Landscape Architect and enjoyed a career in public service. Her interest in showing how an examination in the careers of individual vets can contribute to and perhaps challenge the current historiography of the profession in the UK, comes as a spin-off from research into her family history and her publications on veterinary surgeons of Aberdeenshire. 

Kolja Kröger

Thesis Title: Radical Identities: Inside the Nazi Party 1919-1923 

Research: This project seeks to identify patterns of politicization and radicalization within the early Nazi party in Munich, between 1919 and 1923. It will do so by looking at Hitler’s followers during this formative period. Surprisingly, research has so far provided only limited answers to this central question on the emergence and rapid rise of the nascent Nazi Party, while its organizational history is comparatively well documented and researched. Key questions are: What were the motives for following Hitler, especially for rank and file members? Which role did personal networks play? How strong was Hitler’s influence? The project will also investigate the role of performance and propaganda, thus integrating interdisciplinary links to theatre and media studies. 

Ellen Packham

Thesis title: Literary Engineers: Engineers as Authors and Readers, 1750 - 1900


Research: Ellen is a PhD student within the Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine. Her research focuses on the literary habits of British professional engineers in the period between 1750 and 1900. Her PhD project considers what engineers read to support their professional practices and the genres of writing that they adopted, adapted and created.  It will examine the transformation, over time, of engineers’ literary practices, as well as their placing within broader scientific, literary and practical cultures. Ellen has a degree in chemistry from the University of Oxford and completed an MLitt at the University of Aberdeen in 2017.


This PhD project is supervised by Dr Ben Marsden and Professor Ralph O’Conner and generously supported by the University of Aberdeen's Elphinstone Scholarship scheme and the Friends of Aberdeen University Library. 

Eleanor Peters

Thesis title: Electrical Mediators: Electricity and Domestic Science Institutes in Scotland and England c.1910-1939

Research: Eleanor completed her undergraduate MA in History at the University of Aberdeen in 2014. Her undergraduate dissertation was awarded with the University of Aberdeen History Dissertation Prize. In November 2016, a reworked version of her dissertation was published in Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science under the title ‘Observation, experiment or autonomy in the domestic sphere? Women's familiar science writing in Britain, 1790–1830’.

In 2016 Eleanor was generously awarded with an Elphinstone Scholarship from the University of Aberdeen and commenced her studies as a part-time history PhD student. Her research, supervised by Dr. Ben Marsden and Professor Ralph O’Connor, focuses on the electrification of domestic science institutes across Scotland and England and the mediating role which these institutes played between potential consumers and the electrical industry from c.1910 to 1939. Eleanor is hoping to uncover a forgotten, but significant, relationship which local representatives of the electrical industry forged with domestic science institutes in an attempt to increase the uptake of electrical appliances in the domestic sphere. Furthermore, this thesis will explore whether the adoption of electrical appliances within domestic science institutes demonstrated an eagerness to move on from the philanthropic beginnings of the institutes and instead project a modern, scientific image of domestic science in Scotland and England.

Douglas Smith

Thesis title: Scottish Political Exiles in England, 1400-1500

Research: I completed my MLitt in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Aberdeen in 2017, achieving a Distinction and winning an Elphinstone Scholarship to continue on with my research as a PhD. My research focuses on late medieval Scotland and England, more specifically examining the role of Scottish political exiles in England during the fifteenth century. Exile was a permanent feature of life throughout Europe in the middle ages and there was always a constituency of aristocratic Scots in England, many of them categorised as political exiles. I am interested in using the lives and experiences of medieval Scottish exiles to further our understanding of late medieval Anglo-Scottish diplomatic relations and to explore how exile factored in to the often difficult area of Scottish medieval identity. I am currently supervised by Dr Alastair Macdonald and Professor Jackson Armstrong.  

Ross Staffin

Thesis title: The Feast as an Educational Institution in Plantagenet England, c. 1154-1399

Research: Ross received a BA in History from Hofstra University in Long Island, New York (2009). He also received an MA from University of Bristol (2012) and an MPhil from University of Exeter (2017). His research focus has been the medieval feast, focusing on the various socio-political, religious, and cultural issues expressed through the lord's provision of food in the High Middle Ages. His PhD will explore the feast as an institution for education, where young aristocratic boys served at table in order to learn the behavioural language necessary for future lordship. Research interests include, but not limited to; medieval feasting/food provision, lordship, knighthood, aristocratic practices/culture, courtly society, manners, and behaviours, High Medieval literature (romance, chronicles, hagiography), aristocratic politics, religious attitudes post-Gregorian reform, and general history of the Central Middle Ages (c. 1100-1500).

William Strachan

Thesis title: The Development of Meat Inspection in Great Britain Since 1914

Research: My research is a collaborative project funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science and the Association of Meat Inspectors GB. Dr Ben Marsden (History) and Dr David Watts (Geosciences) are supervising the research that will explore the role of meat inspection in society, industry and public health. Changes in the way meat inspection was used to protect public health, animal welfare and animal health will also be investigated, by looking at how far political, public and scientific opinion influenced the practice and professionalization of meat inspection. 

Karen Treby-Howard

Thesis TitleGendercide vs. Gendercoercive Policies and Practices: The socio-psychological impact of biopolitics on women living in Nazi occupied Europe.

Research: Karen holds a BSc (1st Class) in Psychology and a PGCE (Secondary Science) from the University of Leicester.  In 2018, Karen completed her MA in Contemporary History at the University of Birmingham.She a currently in her fifteenth year of teaching Social Sciences and Humanities at a large secondary school in Norwich, trying to balance employment, part time study and being the mum of two young daughters. 

Karen started her PhD in January 2019 and is supervised by Professor Thomas Weber. Her main interest is in gender historiography, specifically researching the impact of biopolitical legislation and practice on women.  Through adopting a multidisciplinary approach grounded in psychology and postmodernism, Karen seeks to challenge common memories of female experience. Her thesis is focused on how anatomopolitics and the eugenic agenda of the Nazis subjugated women living in Nazi occupied Europe, with focus on the socio-psychological impacts of gendercide and gendercoercive policies.

Karen's research interests include the use of photography as a historical source, feminist theory, self and identity, and Holocaust ‘tourism’.

Benjamin Whitlock

Thesis title: Family of Nations: a comparative analyst into supranationalism

Research: Ben holds a BScEcon in European Politics from Aberystwyth University and an MA (Euromaters) in Contemporary European Studies: Politics, Policy and Society awarded by the University of Bath. He started his PhD at the University of Aberdeen, in January 2018, where he is researching the history of international relations.

His interdisciplinary project is a comparison between the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, The British Commonwealth of Nations and the European Union and aims to explore the nature of supranationalism; by focusing on how each of these actors approached the issues of collective identity, citizenship and collective institutions. His PhD project is supervised by Dr Andrew Dilley and Professor Karin Friedrich.

His other research interests include the role of religion in contemporary world politics, critical theory in International Relations and the Holocaust and genocide studies.