Accessibility statement

Research Students

Current PhD students

Sarah Betts

Sarah is a PhD candidate in the History Department supervised by Dr Geoff Cubitt. Her thesis, entitled ‘“Wrong but Wromantic”: Remembering and Representing English Civil War Royalists and Royalisms, 1642-present’ reflects upon the role of emotional engagement in the learning, memory and interpretation of history. The central research questions are what the general public know about the English Civil War(s), and, within that, what they know or understand about the role of monarchy in the conflict (military and ideological), and the actions, and particularly motivations of the Cavaliers who supported them. Her research examines a wide range of sources from across the period from the raising of the King’s Standard in 1642 to the present day, and utlises a variety of disciplinary approaches and methodologies. She has wider interests in memory, commemoration, history in popular culture and the history (and especially Public history) of monarchy and has published research on all of these topics. She is also Section Editor for Modern Monarchies, with a particular interest in modern public history and heritage, at the Royal Studies Journal.

Esther Wilson

Esther completed her BA History and MA Public History at the University of York. Her MA dissertation examined how Netflix's The Crown highlighted the need to adapt understandings of period drama television within the context of the contemporary digital sphere. Commencing her WRoCAH-funded PhD this year, her doctoral research will build upon her previous work. It aims to interrogate the concept of a 'digital ecosystem' from a public history perspective and to broaden conversations about the impact of evolving digital technologies on the formation, circulation, and public consumption of historical ideas and knowledge. A case-study approach within this research aims to facilitate an interdisciplinary exploration of different digital interactions and prioritise the examination of public experience in order to encourage new understandings of contemporary public history practice.

Further to her research, Esther has an interest in early modern material culture, and can often be found volunteering for heritage organisations, working as an extra on a period films, or managing the social media for a local digital heritage start-up.


Dr Dan Johnson

Dan Johnson’s PhD research examined public understandings of England’s penal past and the ethics of modern reconstructions of prisoner narratives in museums and heritage sites (2014-2020 supervised by Dr Geoff Cubitt). He has presented his research at conferences and workshops in 6 different countries, transcending academic disciplines including crime history, criminology, public history, dark tourism, museum studies and media studies.

Some of his doctoral research has been published in blogs including 'Doing History in Public’ and academic journals such as Law, Crime and History and Crime, History and Societies. In 2017 he was awarded the Emerging Scholar Award by the Inclusive Museum Research Network. In 2019 he won the Herman Diederiks Prize by the International Association for the History of Crime and Criminal Justice (IAHCCJ) which was awarded for a novel article relating to the field of crime history and penal justice.

During his third year of his PhD, Dan undertook a 6-month internship with the world leading heritage design company, Haley Sharpe Design (hsd). During this time, he honed his skills in heritage interpretation working on projects including the redevelopment of three galleries of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Leicester Cathedral Revealed, and the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery Visitor Centre.

In the final year of his PhD, Dan joined PLB Projects as their Interpretive Consultant. At PLB, Dan worked on projects including the redevelopment and reinterpretation of Boscobel House, the Dock Museum, the Royal Logistic Corps Museum and Keswick Museum, demonstrating his skills in creating engaging interpretative content for a wide range of audiences on a number of different topics.

After leaving PLB in 2020, Dan began work as a freelance researcher and interpretation consultant. He has conducted audience development studies, drafted collections research reports, and guest lectured at UWE Bristol. Dan also was a research Assistant on multiple chapters for Alex von Tunzelmann’s recent monograph, Fallen Idols: Twelve Statues That Made History.

In addition to his freelance research, Dan is the Marketing and Communications Executive for a multi-academy trust and is continuing to research and publish new works.

Dr Harriet Beadnell

Harriet Beadnell studied her PhD in History (2015-2019) and MA Public History (2014-2015) at the University of York. Harriet’s PhD (supervised by Dr Geoff Cubitt) explored the public representations of Second World War veterans since 1945, and examined how far these images reflect veterans’ own sense of self and personal connections to their wartime experiences.

During her PhD, Harriet presented her research at a variety of conferences. This included 'Why Public History?' (Queen's University Belfast, 2017), 'War Through Other Stuff Workshop' (Leeds, 2017), 'Redcoats, Tommies, and Dusty Warriors: Britain's Soldiers c.1650 to the present' (University of Leeds), ‘Remember Me’ (Hull, 2018), and ‘New Directions in Second World War Studies Workshop' (Edinburgh University, 2019).

In 2017, Harriet co-organised a 2-day conference entitled ‘Bringing Conflict Home’. The event, held at the University of York, explored the themes of warfare and homecoming. A special evening event, organised in collaboration with York Army Museum, featured a Q&A with 4 York Normandy Veterans. The conference welcomed over 40 speakers to York, including those working in the fields of history, memory studies, English literature, and criminology.

During her studies, Harriet also completed a month long placement at Who Do You Think you Are? magazine in Bristol. She published a variety of features for the magazine, including an interview with the WDYTYA? genealogists and ‘My Ancestor Was An…Antique Dealer’.

Since completing her PhD in 2019, Harriet trained to be a history teacher (Durham University) and later worked as a private tutor alongside a role in public policy. More recently, Harriet started working in an academic support and pastoral role at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Dr Jessica Moody

Jessica Moody's doctoral research (2010-2014, supervised by Dr Geoff Cubitt) examined Liverpool’s public memory of transatlantic enslavement from the end of the 18th century through to the 21st century. This research has since published as a monograph, The Persistence of Memory: Remembering slavery in Liverpool, ‘slaving capital of the world’, which is available for free via open access through Liverpool University Press.

After submitting her PhD, Jessica held a short Research Associate position with IPUP looking at the commemoration of the First World War with Dr Cubitt, research which we have developed and added to across the life of the centenary (2014-2018). She held a Lectureship in Modern History and Heritage at the University of Portsmouth (2014-2017) where she was a part of the Port Towns and Urban Cultures research group, and the Citizenship, Race and Belonging research group.

Jessica joined the University of Bristol in 2017, holding the position of Senior Lecturer in Public History. Since this time, she has published research on Liverpool and Bristol’s public memory of slavery, country houses and the public history of slavery and written on ‘dark public history’, the toppling of the Edward Colston Statue and general pieces on Britain’s memory of slavery more broadly, including the more recent ‘culture wars’ over empire. She currently teaches historical methods, slavery in both history and memory, and public history topics. Further, she introduced a Practice-Based Dissertation in History in 2020.

In 2021, she was awarded UKRI funding as Co-Investigator for the collaborative project ‘Decolonising Memory: Digital Bodies in Movement’ working with Cleo Lake and Kwesi Johnson, researching and dialoguing with sites of slavery memory in Bristol through performance. This project is one strand of the Citizens Researching Together project led by Professor Olivette Otele, which develops Citizen Science methodologies for projects concerning Bristol and transatlantic enslavement.