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Dr Rebecca Darley

MA History (Cantab), MA Greek Archaeology (Bham), PhD Byzantine Studies (Bham)

Senior Lecturer in Medieval History

Contact details

My office is 2.11 in 27 Russell Square (enter via 26 Russell Square), however any post should be addressed to:

Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck, University of London
Room 211
27 Russell Square


I joined Birkbeck in September 2015 from the ‘Bilderfahrzeuge’ project at the Warburg Institute, having completed my PhD at the University of Birmingham Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies and at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington D.C.).  At Birkbeck my core research and teaching focuses on Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, especially in the Byzantine Empire (c. 300-1453) and the western Indian Ocean (c. 200-800). I have a particular research interest in numismatics. In all areas of my research, through active membership of learned societies, by working with museums and on the issue of open access and by building relationships and projects with colleagues and students internationally, I seek to contribute to the framing of an inclusive, expansive and critically engaged global community of scholarship.


  • My research focuses on how people and things moved and how people understood and described the world far beyond their locality. I focus particularly on Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages (AD c. 200-800), and geographically on the eastern Mediterranean and western Indian Ocean. This includes work on the Byzantine, Sasanian and Aksumite empires and kingdoms in south India and Sri Lanka. I am interested in why and when commentators, past and present, have taken an interest in historical mobility, and when mobility has been restricted or reduced. A combination of narrative textual sources and archaeological material is central to my research, coming together especially in the study of coins. In another strand of my research, maps and travel accounts provide a different sort of visualisation of movement and space. Further information about up-coming and past conference papers and publications in progress can be found on my personal website.
  • Research interests: Byzantine history; Late Antiquity; Indian Ocean networks; economic history; imperial structures; money and power; networks and boundaries; global/world history; Higher Education organisation; Open Access; coin collecting.


  • The strong emphasis on research-led teaching is one of the most exciting aspects of being at Birkbeck. The courses I convene at BA and MA level introduce themes, ideas and material drawn from my current research and recent publications as well as covering broader surveys of the Middle Ages. I also offer individual sessions within team-taught courses and co-convene modules with colleagues. I am currently coordinating the roll-out of HCA's new Hub Courses, 'Approaching the Past', 'Exploring the Past' and 'Writing the Past', which are designed to lead students from the first year of BA training to completing a dissertation via training and activities that engage with the full cross-disciplinary research and teaching strengths of the Department and its Bloomsbury environment. I am currently the HCA Director of Teaching, Learning and Student Experience.
  • I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
  • From 2018/19 I formed part of the working group to design Foundation Year programmes for SSHP.
  • A full account and list of modules I teach or contribute to can be found here. Due to our commitment to providing the highest standard of part-time education, most modules in History, Classics and Archaeology are taught in alternating years, and modules change over time due to shifting research priorities. For information about which modules are likely to be offered in each academic year, please see the HCA departmental website. I also supervise dissertations at BA and MA level on a range of ancient, Late Antique and medieval topics as well as the use of ancient and medieval themes in modern political writing.

PhD Supervision

  • I am currently supervising PhD projects on:
    • Byzantine economic history and economic infrastructure in the twelfth century
    • The role of charity in the Abbasid monetary economy
  • I welcome applications by students seeking to complete a doctorate in Byzantine economic history, numismatics or study of Western Indian Ocean maritime networks c. 300-1000. Research proposals with an element of quantitative research are currently eligible for consideration in relation to specific research funding at Birkbeck. If you have an idea you would like to develop for doctoral study, and suitable prior qualifications, please email me. Please note that funding applications for PhD study commencing in September 2020 will be due around Autumn to Christmas 2019, so if you are interested in applying for funding for doctoral study, please allow sufficient time to prepare a strong application.
  • Find out about current funding opportunities.