Do you want to study history? Top tips from a graduate

Recent history graduate George Evans-Hulme gives his top tips and advice on how to get the most out of your history degree.

George’s article for History Extra includes a day in the life of an undergraduate, information on how much reading is involved and what opportunities a history degree can give you. He also advises how best to progress.

You can read his article here: .


South East Hub Conference 2018: Call for Papers

Victims, Perpetrators, Bystanders and Collaborators as historical concepts: Redundant labels, useful categorisations or somewhere in between?

19th June 2018, Grimond Building, University of Kent, Canterbury

There’s a big fashion for categorising bystanders, perpetrators and so on, why? Everyone collaborated!

– Interview with a Holocaust survivor, January 2018

The twentieth century saw the concepts ‘victims’, ‘perpetrators’, ‘bystanders’ and ‘collaborators’ entering not only historical study but public discourse surrounding instances of war, atrocity and genocide. However, these terms also have a broader application outside of the twentieth century, in contexts of earlier imperialism, religious iconography and revolution. Despite this near universal application, there has been surprisingly little critical evaluation of the conceptual utility of the aforementioned terms amongst scholars. Problems associated with the dearth of engagement in our understanding and usage of these words include reductionist tendencies that can obscure nuance and disregard the experiences of individuals whose stories are not so easily classified. This conference aims to provide a forum for postgraduate students and early career researchers to begin to facilitate vital discussion as to the future of these often problematic concepts.

Applications are sought from postgraduates and early career scholars, focusing on the following themes relating to the application of these terms within different historical contexts, including, but certainly not limited to:

  • Gendered connotations
  • Public memory, commemoration and the mass media
  • Imagery and visual culture
  • Occupations during wartime
  • Everyday violence
  • Law, courts and society
  • Revolutionary mentalities and culture

Submissions with an interdisciplinary approach are particularly encouraged.

Please send a 250 word abstract for a 20-30 minute paper and a brief biographical statement to Kate Docking and Ellis Spicer via by 16th March 2018.

Keynote Speaker: Professor Tim Cole, University of Bristol

Sponsored by CHASE DTP and the School of History, University of Kent



Student trip to Rome

In early April 2017, Dr Emily Guerry took fourteen of her third-year students from her special subject module, ‘Saints, Relics, and Churches in Medieval Europe’ (HI 6058), on a four-day fieldtrip to explore the material culture of medieval Rome. The School of History generously subsidized the cost of travel and accommodation.


“When we arrived in the early evening, the students checked into their hostel near Termini and we all headed straight to the Forum to get a sense of the city of Rome– that still-smoking hearth of culture. Our itinerary was designed to proceed both chronologically and geographically through the development of the Christian capital so our first morning was packed with time spent in the Palatine Hill and the Capitoline Museo, followed by an afternoon in the Pantheon (which was converted into a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the sixth century). Next, we examined the first major Rome house-church female cults located Santa Pudenziana, Santa Prassede, and ended our day with a special private tour of the loggia (with captivating city views) atop Santa Maria Maggiore on the Esquiline. On our second morning, we began by spending two hours inside the stunning church of San Clemente and descended into its many layers of archeological history. Then we ventured to the Lateran for private visit of SS Quattro Coronati thanks to the Augustinian nuns (and performed our very own re-staging of the Donation of Constantine), followed by a pilgrimage to the Sancta Sanctorum, wherein four enterprising students actually acquired an indulgence! We spent that in Trastevere to make a private visit– with generous thanks to the Clarissa nuns– to Pietro Cavallini’s monumental Last Judgment fresco in Santa Cecilia, which is said to embody the ‘turning point’ between the transformation of Gothic painting into the ‘Renaissance.’ We ended this special day by looking at the amazing spolia in Santa Maria in Trastevere– purportedly the earliest location for the Roman cult of the Virgin– and marveling at its resplendent medieval mosaics. We spent out last day wandering through the Vatican museums, where we came face to face with dozens of sacred and sublime objects from our course, including early Christian sarcophagi, cult statues, and even Michelangelo’s wall paintings in the Sistine Chapel. In the end, our trip was an awe-inspiring intellectual adventure. The students encountered and examined some of the most transformative examples of church architecture, painting, and sculpture in the history of art and architecture in Rome. We are all so grateful to the School of History, especially Jenny Humphrey, for providing us with this once in a lifetime opportunity.Grazie mille!

Students at the Foro Romano

Students examine Cavallini`s fresco

Students in the nave of Santa Pudenziana discuss the apse mosaic

Students reenact the ‘Donation of Constantine’ in SS Quattro Coronati

History Summer School 2016

Kent's Paris Centre, Reid Hall

Kent’s Paris Centre, Reid Hall

Following the success of the History Summer School at Paris last year, the School of History is happy to announce that we will be running it again in 2016! If you are a current Stage 2 or 3 student in the School, you have the opportunity to spend five days at the end of June staying and studying at the University’s Paris Centre.

You will travel out to Paris on Sunday 26th June, to experience a week of intensive study

and visit world-famous historic sites, before returning on Friday 1st July.

A week of French and European history through the ages

The Summer School offers you the opportunity to examine elements of French and European history while in the heart of Paris itself. Encountering areas of history you might be familiar with, and others that are entirely new to you, you will take part in sessions specifically tailored for the Summer School, which take advantage of the Parisian setting and the opportunity to visit relevant museums and landmarks across the city.

These sessions will be given by members of staff from the School of History, and offer you a special opportunity to be taught by world-class experts in their fields, on subjects and areas at the cutting edge of historical research.

  • Dr Jan Loop: Europe and the Islamic World
  • Dr Rebekah Higgitt: Paris: Capital of Science, 1660-1880
  •   Dr Julie Anderson: Crime, Slime and Grime: The Paris Underground and its Marginalised Members
  • Dr Ambrogio Caiani: Honour into merit? France’s Changing Elites in an Age of Revolution, 1715-1870
  • Dr Timothy Bowman: French Army and Society, 1792-1945
  • Dr Amy Blakeway: Mary, Queen of Scots, France and England
  • Dr Emily Guerry: Gothic Art and Architecture: Invention and Imagination in Medieval Paris 

There will also be a session on Pathways to Postgraduate Study, to give you some advice on how to approach academic study after your undergraduate degree.

Experience the culture and history of Paris

The seminar sessions are only part of the Summer School experience. Each day you will visit a museum or site in Paris related to one of the sessions covered that day. These include:

Of course, staying in the centre of Paris will also give you the opportunity to experience one of the capitals of Europe. You will be free to explore the city after each study day – last year students took in such sites at the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and not to mention many of Paris’ most famous restaurants and bars!

To round out the week, the final day of the Summer School will be taken up entirely with a visit to the Palace of Versailles.

The University of Kent at Paris

The University’s centre at Paris is Reid Hall. Built as a porcelain factory in the 18th century, it has been a place of teaching and research since 1834. Located in the centre of Montparnasse, the historic heart of Paris’ intellectual and artistic life, Reid Hall is just a five-minute walk from the famous Jardin du Luxembourg, and a twenty-minute walk to the Île de la Cité and Notre Dame, both of which you will have the chance to visit and tour on the Sunday after you arrive.

The University offers a number of postgraduate programmes at Reid Hall. The School itself offers an MA in Modern History, wherein your Autumn term is spent in Canterbury, and your Spring term based at Reid Hall. The Summer School will be an excellent opportunity to experience the facilities and social life at Reid Hall and the environs around Montparnasse.


The Summer School is being funded primarily by the School of History, and so the cost to you will be just £50. This will include travel to and from Ashford International and Paris Gare du Nord on the Eurostar; metro travel around Paris for the week; accommodation in a hotel near Reid Hall; breakfast and lunch each day; and entry into all the historical sites you will visit as part of the study days.

Please note that the accommodation is based on two students to a room.

How to apply

If you would like to apply to attend the Summer School, please submit a 250-word email stating why you would like to attend to by 12noon, Tuesday 5th April.

Please note places are limited to just 20 students. If you wish to apply, you must be available between Sunday 26th June and Friday 1st July; it is not possible to only attend part of the Summer School.

For more information, or if you have any queries, please contact Jon Beer (

A Semester in California

PhD student Jack Davies is currently completing a semester abroad, studying at the University of California, Berkeley. In his first blog post for the School of     History, he tells us how his first few weeks have gone…

“My chance to study abroad at UC Berkeley came about through Kent’s membership of the sGroup of Universities. This European Network of Universities is a non-profit organisation committed to fostering academic excellence and the internationalisation of its students. Both the sGroup and UC Berkeley accepted my application and subsequently I was offered a place as a Visiting Student Researcher with the sGroup’s scholarship paying for my tuition fees.

The Campanile (Sather Tower) on campus

The Campanile (Sather Tower) on campus

While I had managed to study abroad in France during my MA year, studying in the USA was an opportunity I wished I taken in my undergraduate years. So I was very excited that I had this chance to study at UC Berkeley for a semester (albeit a bit later than I would have liked). I am immensely grateful to both the sGroup and the University of Kent for the financial assistance that has made this experience possible.So far I have been in America for nearly three weeks, and it has been great. The UC Berkeley campus is amazing – I always thought the Kent campus was big, but Berkeley is over 1,200 acres, which is four times the size of Kent! Founded in 1868 it is the oldest university in the state and is the flagship school for the University of California. The campus is home to over 36,000 students and their history department is the top Doctoral programme in the USA – a somewhat intimidating prospect. The campus is well equipped for everything students could ever need, from 11 libraries to 4 swimming pools, Berkeley has it covered. It is so huge that I ended up in the wrong classroom. I had to sit through a lecture on Artificial Intelligence – one thing to tick off the college bucket list.

The California Memorial Stadium, located on campus

The California Memorial Stadium, located on campus

My position as a Visiting Student Researcher allows me access to the majority of the facilities the campus has to offer, but also to events ran by the Global Engagement Office and Visiting Scholars office. So far I’ve attended a colloquium (the first part of a series of events) on the jobs available in America for those who complete their PhDs and a lecture series on academic publishing from two representatives from Princeton University Press. These have both been very interesting and useful –they focused on US publishing and US teaching careers so it was slightly different to similar opportunities in the UK. It has allowed me to think about the different options available after completing my PhD and about the process of creating a monograph from my thesis.I have also been making the most of my opportunity to audit classes here in the USA to experience the difference between teaching in the US and the UK. I have chosen to audit ‘The Peculiar Modernity of Britain 1848 – 2000’ (a particularly grabbing module title) and ‘Modern Europe’ as they will both be helpful for giving the necessary context to my research on First World War Britain. The British module I was especially drawn to as they referred to Britain as ‘this small, cold, wet island’; I felt like I needed to attend if only to attest this rather accurate, yet damning description. The teaching styles in the USA are certainly different – lectures are far more relaxed and are dependent on a certain amount of audience participation. This is something that I hope to integrate into my own teaching at Kent as I have found them to be both stimulating and enjoyable.

One of the 11 libraries located on campus

One of the 11 libraries located on campus

Aside from my classes and the events organised by the Visiting Scholar office, I have been exploring the extensive collection of books on offer throughout the 11 libraries on campus. Unlike at Kent, the history books are not on the fourth floor, they are located quite conveniently one floor below the entrance to the Doe library – a far cry from the top floor of Templeman.While this blog post has focussed on my academic activities so far, this is not a wholly accurate representation of how I have spent my first few weeks in California. This semester I am living in student accommodation in a house called ‘Casa Cedar’, located in the ‘Gourmet Ghetto’ in Berkeley – I have been enjoying the many culinary delights that surround my house. The house itself is bright blue and just a 10-minute walk from the Berkeley campus. This is my first time sharing a room with other people, in fact, I share with 3 other guys, 2 of whom are international students and 1 is an American PhD student. As odd as it sounds, I wanted to share a room during my time at Berkeley as I wanted the ‘real’ American college experience. Sharing a room has been a bit of a cultural shock so far, but I’m lucky that I get along with all of my roommates. The rest of the house is a bit of a mix; I have housemates from Scotland, England, Mexico, America, Saudi Arabia, China and Taiwan. It has been a great chance to get to know people from all over the world and to better understand their own individual cultures.

Pier 39, in San Fransisco

Pier 39, in San Fransisco

I’ve spent the first few weeks trying to acclimatise myself to American culture – to find my way around campus, to explore the city of Berkeley and to travel into San Francisco. Both Berkeley and San Francisco are pretty exciting places, there’s so much to see and do so there is always something going on. Tonight, I’m supposed to be going to a comedy night on campus (after the obligatory England vs. Scotland squash match with my housemate, of course). I have attended American football explanatory classes (still no idea how it works), been to Caltopia and Calapalooza (think Freshers’ fayre x100), I’ve seen flash mobs on campus, had my first ice cream sandwich, introduced my American housemates to playing squash, and swam in the beautiful rooftop swimming pool on campus. I’ve been on a hike to a secret lake in the middle of some woods in Berkeley, been vintage clothes shopping in San Francisco (I bought a pair of converse for £9!), had picnics in the sun, and just generally had a great time. My semester in Berkeley has been amazing so far, I’ve had such a great time and I’m very excited for the upcoming term. My only regret is that I didn’t do this as part of my undergraduate degree, I can’t help but feel jealous when my housemates are only 20 years old and are enjoying their undergraduate modules on the music of the 60s and Disney Pixar movies…”

Jack Davies


Graduation Reception 2014


Congratulations to all our students that graduated this year! We were delighted to be able to celebrate with some of them at our Graduation Reception on Friday 18th July.

A number of students were also awarded with School of History prizes:

Faculty of Humanities Prize Winners
Rotary Prize (one of the top fifteen finalists in the Faculty)
Edward Carins
Bejamin Lake

Stage 3
Best First in the School of History
Edward Carins

Most improved performance between Stages 2 and 3 in the School of History Dafi Jenkins

Best Final Year Dissertation – History
Robert Cliff and Osneil Drakes

Best Final Year Dissertation – War Studies
Tom Cheetham and Tom Davies

Best Final Year Dissertation – Independent Documentary Study
Benjamin Lake

Copley Prize
Winner – Hayley Pain
Proxime accessit – Sophie Driver

More pictures available here.

Thomas Cheetham and Thomas Davies were announced as winners of the, 'Best Final Year Dissertation (War Studies)' prize

Thomas Cheetham and Thomas Davies were announced as winners of the, ‘Best Final Year Dissertation (War Studies)’ prize

Edward Carins was announced as winner of the Rotary Prize, as one of the top fifteen finalists in the faculty, and the 'Best First in the School of History' prize

Edward Carins was announced as winner of the Rotary Prize, as one of the top fifteen finalists in the faculty, and the ‘Best First in the School of History’ prize

Osneil Drakes won the prize for 'Best Final Year Dissertation (History)'

Osneil Drakes won the prize for ‘Best Final Year Dissertation (History)’


Congratulations to Hayley Pain who was awarded with the Copley prize for 2014 by Head of School Professor Kenneth Fincham

Congratulations to Hayley Pain who was awarded with the Copley prize for 2014 by Head of School Professor Kenneth Fincham


Undergraduate students give lecture at The Beaney

IMG_6773 - Copy

Left-right: The Beaney’s Martin Crowther, with students Thomas Knight, Rianna Lofts, Louise Jarrold, Lisa Jermy, Beth Gregory, Ciara Kempson and Marina Spiteri.

Congratulations to a group of History undergraduates who presented a successful lecture at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury.

The group of seven students, all studying on the module Victorian Britain, researched the history of some of the more unusual items in the museum, from a pair of silk Afghan trousers and an electro-magnetic medical machine, to a Parisian doll and a homemade scrap screen.

Their lecture, Victorian Objects: Stories about Museum Artefacts, was held on Thursday 5 June at the gallery, with a large number of visitors attending to hear abuot their work.

Dr Don Leggett has been leading the project with the students, all currently in their second year of studying BA History.

Pictured above, left-right: The Beaney’s Martin Crowther, with students Thomas Knight, Rianna Lofts, Louise Jarrold, Lisa Jermy, Beth Gregory, Ciara Kempson and Marina Spiteri.