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

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 Dr Jackson Armstrong.  

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. 

Borja de Arístegui

Research: Borja de Arístegui is a PhD candidate in History, researching Spanish Diplomatic History, with a focus on Near and Middle East foreign policy. His work at the University of Aberdeen explores the role of the Spanish Diplomatic Mission in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War, looking at foreign policy development and the role of the Embassy as a political actor during the conflict.  

Borja has been a Lecturer at the Lebanese International University in Beirut, as well as an Affiliated Researcher at the Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB) of the Max Weber Foundation. He holds an MA by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London, and a BA by McGill University in Montreal, Canada. 

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. 

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.  

Xiao Wei

Thesis title: Unfinished Plans: Urban Planning and Modernity in Republican Shanghai, 1911-1937

Research: Xiao Wei (simplified Chinese: 魏潇) is a PhD student in History. Her PhD dissertation, supervised by Dr. Ben Marsden and Dr. Isabella Jackson (Trinity College Dublin), looks into how the morden urban planning concepts and practices emerged in Republican Shanghai. By illustrating how people of Shanghai imagined, planned and built their city, it links the planning of Shanghai to the Republican Chinese nation building.

Xiao has got her MS in History of Science and Technology at the Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2014. She holds a BS in Urban and Rural Planning from Beijing Normal University. Her broader research interests include urban history of Republican China, the translation of Western scientific publications in the 19th-20th century China and heritage conservation.

Eleanor Peters

Thesis title: Mediators: Female Electrical Educators and Consumers in Britain 1910-1940

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. A reworked version of her dissertation was published under the title ‘Observation, experiment or autonomy in the domestic sphere? Women's familiar science writing in Britain, 1790–1830’ in November 2016 by Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science.

In 2016 she was 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, looks at the mediating role which women in Britain performed when introducing electrical appliances to female consumers from 1910 to 1940. She is focusing on individual women and female-dominated institutions that performed a dual role when introducing electricity to consumers: their first role was to educate the users of domestic electrical appliances and their second role was to gather feedback from these potential consumers to pass on to retailers, electrical appliance manufacturers and utility companies.

Rose Luminiello

Thesis title: A Comparative Study of Sectarianism and Religion: Ulster and Poznania, 1890-1921

Research: Rose holds a BA History from Ave Maria University, Florida and an MSc Modern British and Irish History from the University of Edinburgh.  She is just completing the second year of her PhD in History, funded by the Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law and is a recipient of the Santander Mobility Award.  Her research focuses on the interworking of sectarian violence and religion in Ulster and Poznania, 1890-1921 under the supervision of Prof. Michael Brown of RIISS and Prof. Robert I. Frost, FBA.

Theresa Antoff

Thesis title: Lust, Marriage and Murder in 18thcentury Scotland: Interpretations of the trial of Katherine Nairn and Patrick Ogilvie for incest and murder

Research: Theresa has a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania (’11) Gender, Society, and Culture – History & Sociology and an MSc. from the University of Aberdeen (’12) Gender, Sex, and Violence. She is recipient of the Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Senior Thesis Prize in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies (’11) for an analysis of language change in representations of sexual crimes within four Newgate Calendars (1764 - 1779). Research interests include but are not limited to: Gender and Sexuality though historical and sociological lenses, Scottish history, 18th century and the late Early Modern period, Sexual violence, Popular culture, Feminist theory, History of the book, Print culture, and Criminality and social deviance.

Robert Traynham

Robert Traynham is a nationally known political strategist and Vice President of Communications at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, DC.  He is a political analyst for MSNBC and XM Radio and a current PhD student.

Hanna Mazheika

Thesis title: From Text to Network: Confessional Contacts and Migration between Early Modern Britain and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Research: Hanna Mazheika was educated at Belarusian State Pedagogical University named after Maxim Tank.  She subsequently undertook a Master's degree at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, supported by an OSI/FCO/ Chevening Scholarship. She then returned to Minsk and worked at the National Historical Archives of Belarus. Her research will focus on confessional contacts and migration between early modern Britain and the Grand Duchy of Lithuanian. She is interested in how religious refugee networks operated at a local, national and international scale and the role of authoritative religious and political texts in transferring ideas from one society to another.

Liz Neesam

Thesis title: Medical Print and the Communication of Medical Knowledge in the Age of Improvement in Scotland (1750-1850) 

Research: My research background is in the cultural history of medicine and Scottish medical authors and their publishers 1750-1800. I am currently researching the early years of the English vernacular medical periodical between 1700  and 1850 and the characteristics of this new epistemological form which 'supercharged' and effected a qualitative and quantitative transformation of  the dissemination of medical knowledge.  Scotland was an early entrant in the field, and as the learned journal became the dominant medium for medical communication by the mid nineteenth century, new relationships, free of many of the conventions of the book formed between author, publisher, bookseller, commentator, censor and reader which demand further exploration.

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. 

Rachel Backa

Thesis title: Local Action and Wider Influence: The Role of Women in the Conversion and Christianization of Scandinavia

Research: Rachel has studied history at the University of New Brunswick (BA History) and the University of York (MA Medieval Studies). Her interests include exploration and colonisation, early medieval historical and social representations of gender, regional identities, and religion and society in the early middle ages.