Skip to main content

About us

Our research and teaching in the School of Historical Studies spans the whole of human history. We are one of the very few universities in the UK to investigate every period from prehistory to the early twenty-first century. We are intensely interdisciplinary in our interests and working practices, cultivating pluralistic approaches to our research. We are driven by our commitment to engaging diverse audiences and publics, and together we see the study of the past, its culture and its ideas as crucial for making a difference in the world. Key areas of interest across our subject areas include global histories, cities and environments, race and inequality, mobility and migration, ethics and politics, history and ideas of science, mind and body, sexuality and gender, and material culture.

Archaeologists in the school specialise in areas ranging from the Neanderthals through to contemporary archaeology and critical heritage. Our work in classics has particular strengths in ancient political and ethical thought, literature and the reception of Greek and Roman antiquity in later periods. The expertise of our historians ranges from ancient history through to the contemporary, covering medieval, early modern and modern societies, and encompassing much of the globe. Birkbeck's expertise in the subject of art history is globally renowned, spanning medieval European architecture through to contemporary Latin American art, and featuring particular expertise in photography and museums. Museums, heritage and public histories are other focal points for our teaching and research, drawing on our extensive relationships with and proximity to numerous world-leading collections and institutions in London. Philosophy also has a long and distinguished history at Birkbeck, with internationally celebrated research clustered around the history of philosophy, ethics and political philosophy, and language, epistemology, metaphysics and mind.

All our subjects are supported by research events, organised within our research centres, institutes such as the Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and the Raphael Samuel History Centre, and in collaboration with other organisations such as the Institute of Classical Studies and the Institute of Philosophy.

In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework, 78.8% of our research outputs in Philosophy were classified as world-leading. Art and Design at Birkbeck was ranked 4th nationally in the Framework, with world-leading achievements in environment (90%), impact (67%) and outputs (65%). History, Classics and Archaeology, submitted to the exercise as one unit, was ranked 8th nationally, with 63% of the return ranked as world-leading.