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Humanities and Social Sciences research

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences is a lively and friendly community of research students, practitioners, and academic researchers – many of whom are world leading in their field.

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, we were awarded world-leading status for research submitted under four categories: History; English Language and Literature; Communication, Cultural and Media Studies; and Sociology.

We work closely with our affiliate research institutes – the International Policing and Public Protection Research Institute (IPPPRI), StoryLab and the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) – on a range of projects.

We also have smaller specialist areas of research concentration that encourage and support staff and research students to explore new topics and interdisciplinary connections.

Broadly speaking, our School has a commitment to address the theme of 'social inclusion and marginalised communities'.

This theme links to our research focus in addressing the lives of marginalised peoples of the past and present; seeking social inclusion and social justice; examining migration and heritage (including language, literatures and communication) and also finding creative and collaborative ways to explore, celebrate and commemorate the experiences of a variety of communities.

The impact of our research focusses on innovative and interdisciplinary responses in relation to the pressing challenges facing communities today, and public engagement in policy and education, to better understand and address such challenges.

Below is a quick summary of our work and current research specialisms.

Research specialisms

English has notable strengths in diverse areas such as: children’s literature, the ‘long’ nineteenth century, science fiction and fantasy, morphosyntax, editing scholarship, socio-linguistics and intercultural communication. This area of research covers a wide range of historical periods (early modern to contemporary), genres, forms, and languages, and research projects use varied methods, including archival research; creative practitioner research; participatory action research; eye tracking; elicitation, and large-scale surveys.

The four interdisciplinary research clusters showcase and also support emerging work, broadly linked to key themes of social inclusion and marginalised communities, and creative practice and creative industries. The clusters are: The Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy; the 19th Century Studies Unit; New Routes, Old Roots, and Anglia Ruskin Research Centre for Intercultural and Multilingual Studies.

The range of work covers projects working with migrants and refugee groups and Schools of Sanctuary - including creative writing and community theatre projects; explorations in science fiction and links to early science and Shakespeare, feminist literature and queer narratology; grammatical relations; and morphology; literature and engineering; and nineteenth-century texts and the politics of production.

There are clear links to social inclusion and impact, for example in projects seeking understanding of speech development and perceptive skills in a second language; aggression and politeness in online communication; and multilingual research into minority languages, all making innovative contributions to the fields of intercultural communication, theoretical syntax and socio-linguistics.

There are further developing projects on decolonising digital collections; the link between global climate change, displacement and migrant histories, including the preservation of heritage resilience; and the life-writing of older people.

Read more about read more about history.

In History we engage in a wide range of exciting research projects, with broad temporal and thematic reach. The research areas include British social, cultural and political history, 1700-present; sensory history and heritage; material culture; empire; nineteenth and twentieth century British gender, feminism, sexuality, race; Russia 1917-1999; British Labour Party; and the Cold War.

Our specific research covers the early modern history of smell, nineteenth century popular culture, twentieth century Russian political history, twentieth century British and American politics, and British gender and race relations.

Our research could be described as falling into two broad strands: modern political history, exemplified in the work of the Labour History Research Unit, where interest in labour politics focusses on issues and policies relevant to social and political inclusion; and social and cultural history, examining the lives and concerns of those subjected to marginalisation and exclusion, in a variety of contexts and historical periods.

Read more about read more about history.

The Social Sciences cluster is an energetic and fast-developing research group which embraces our University’s strategic commitment to original, rigorous, and significant research that serves the community and leads to change in policy, procedure, and practice. Our vitality rests on regional, national, and international collaborations with a diverse range of partners.

At the heart of these collaborations is our commitment to applying sociology and criminology to tackle social challenges. There are four key areas of staff research: ‘Race’, hybridity, belonging and citizenship; the role of marginalisation, life-cycles and morality in forms of interpersonal violence and attempts to combat such violence; the criminal justice system in practice, particularly the trial process and the realities of risk and public protection, and emerging and evolving types of crime and policing.

Much of our work is empirically informed, taking a variety of mixed and qualitative approaches (including ethnography). Our innovation in methods is evident for example in pioneering work in the techniques of court observation and novel approaches in understanding the dynamics of interagency working.

New clusters of research will inspire further projects, eg exclusion, transgression and morality will look at social and political marginalisation and the role of morality and moral emotions, in relation to issues of suicide, interpersonal violence, corruption and substance-misuse; and technologies of crime, policing and surveillance will examine the latest issues and opportunities of new technologies, both in terms of challenges for policing, and in terms of questions of identity and civil liberties.

Read more about read more about sociology social sciences including sociology criminology and politics.

Faculty research team

For advice on applications, funding and training

Recent thesis titles


Our research clusters:

International Policing and Public Protection Research Institute

Labour History Research Unit

New Routes, Old Roots

Anglia Ruskin Research Centre for Intercultural and Multilingual Studies


Cambridge Writing Centre

19th Century Studies Research Unit

International Integration, Migration and Local Communities Network

Sexual Violence Researchers' Group


We particularly welcome cross-disciplinary research in:

For information on individual supervision offered by our academics, please view our staff pages.