RHS News

RHS Submission to REF 2020-21 Consultation

Following Lord Stern’s review of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), HEFCE opened a consultation on REF2020-21, which closed on 17 March 2017. REF is of vital importance to the scholarly community and to history as a discipline and the consultation exercise has shown that its significance for our research culture is widely perceived. The Royal Historical Society has consulted History schools and departments across the country in preparing its submission to the consultation exercise, and has provided a considered response that evaluates the possible effects of measures such as full return of research staff and non-portability, seeks to support the position of Early Career Researchers, and makes a strong case for equality and diversity. Read the Society’s full response here.


Prof. Claire Langhamer, ‘Who the hell are ordinary people?’

Ordinariness was a frequently deployed category in the political debates of 2016. Brexit was, according to one political leader, ‘a victory for ordinary, decent people who’ve taken on the establishment and won’. In this lecture I want to historicise recent use of the category by returning to another moment when ordinariness held deep political significance: the years immediately following the Second World War. I explore the range of values, styles, and specific behaviours that gave meaning to the claim to be ordinary; consider the relationship between ordinariness, everyday experience and knowledge; and map the political work ordinariness was called upon to perform. I conclude with some thoughts about how historians use the category today.

Prof. Claire Langhamer is Professor of Modern British History at the University of Sussex

Analysis of REF2014 Impact Case Studies

The RHS has undertaken an analysis of the Impact Case Studies submitted for History in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. A number of characteristics emerge from the analysis:

  • Impact Case Studies were overwhelmingly headed by male historians: over 70% of listed Principal Investigators were men. This gender divide was higher at Professorial level than at other career stages, reflecting the issues surrounding gender equality highlighted in the RHS Gender Report.
  • A diverse range of funding was used to support Impact Case Studies: while 31% listed support from the Arts & Humanities Research Council, nearly half did not list a specific source of external national funding.
  • While there were Impact Case Studies on many different geographical areas, the UK was by far the largest area of focus (58%), followed by Europe (15%).
  • Modern history was the main period focus (62%), with fewer centring on early modern (12%) or medieval history (6%).
  • Public engagement was the largest impact area (listed by 66% of projects); comparatively few case studies were focused on digital impact (listed by just 9%).

Our analysis is available here.


RHS Programme 2017

Friday 22 September, 6 pm, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL
Professor Chris Marsh (QUB)
‘Woman to the Plow and Man to the Hen-Roost:
Wives, Husbands, & Best-Selling Ballads in Seventeenth-Century England’

Thursday 26th October, Museum of London
Colin Matthew Memorial Lecture for the Public Understanding of History

Professor Mary Beard (Cambridge)
‘How to spot a Roman emperor’

Friday 24 November, 6pm, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL
2017 Presidential Address

Professor Margot Finn (UCL)
‘Material Turns in British History I: Loot’


RHS Annual Newsletter 2016

The RHS annual newsletter for 2016 is available here, and includes:

  • Articles by our outgoing President Peter Mandler and incoming President Margot Finn.
  • Updates on education policy by outgoing Vice-President for Education Arthur Burns.
  • Dr Olivette Otele on challenges and opportunities for black history.
  • Vice-President Suzanne Bardgett on her work with Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships at the Imperial War Museum.
  • Vice-President Mary Vincent on progress for the RHS’ widely-cited report on gender equality for historians.


‘Educating the Nation’

Over the past four years, RHS President Professor Peter Mandler has presented a series of Presidential Addresses on ‘Educating the Nation’, charting the impact of mass education on Britain since the Second World War.

I: Schools (video, text)

II: Universities (video, text)

III: Social Mobility (video, text)

IV: Subject Choice (video)


RHS Letter Regarding the EU Referendum

Dear Fellows and Members,

The recent EU referendum has brought the issue of how international exchange and collaboration enrich history as a discipline to the forefront of the profession’s attention.

Whatever our position on the outcome of the referendum, I’m sure that as historians we want to ensure that our discipline remains outward looking and global in perspective. Only 13% of historians in UK university departments study the non-Western world;  the equivalent proportion in Canada is 20% and in the US 27% (see the revealing study by Luke Clossey and Nick Guyatt in AHA Perspectives, May 2013).  Surely we must want in the coming years to become more comprehensive in our understanding of all the world’s peoples and their histories, rather than less.

The Royal Historical Society is committed to this goal and to keeping our discipline as diverse and capacious as possible, both in terms of academic employment and in terms of the scholarship that we support. We are particularly conscious at this moment of the precarious situation in which citizens of EU nations who are working as historians in the UK find themselves, and are keen to gather information about their situation that would allow us to support them in any way we can.  We also wish to facilitate collaboration between UK-based historians and others abroad, both in the EU and in the wider world.  If you have any information about or experience of threats to employment or collaboration, please do write to us at info@royalhistsoc.org.

Council will keep these international issues at the head of its agenda and I hope to be able to report to you in the autumn on further developments, both the challenges that we are encountering and the opportunities that we hope to open up.

With best wishes,

Peter Mandler