School of History

Dr Simon Layton


Lecturer in Early Global History

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2898
Room Number: ArtsTwo 2.10


I am a historian of European imperialism, specialising in global and oceanic approaches to the past. I am interested in the influence of sea-power in the age of empire, particularly at the chokepoints of global trade in the early modern world. I completed my doctorate at the University of Cambridge in 2013, where I lectured in World History for two years before joining Queen Mary. I have also taught at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, and at the University of Otago in New Zealand.


Research Interests:

My research delves into the global history of ‘piracy’ as a concept and practice, focusing particularly on the period of British imperialism in the Indian Ocean world. I explore various discourses of sovereignty, law and criminality in world history, especially as they pertain to empire-building and maritime violence in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

  • World History
  • British Imperial History, 1600-1857
  • Early-modern empires in Asia and the Middle East
  • Histories of maritime violence
  • Cultures of radicalism, subversion and resistance


Monograph (forthcoming):

  • Piratical States: British Imperialism in the Indian Ocean world.




I welcome applications from candidates wishing to undertake doctoral research in the following areas:

  • Maritime/Oceanic history (esp. Indian Ocean)
  • European imperialism, 1500-1914
  • Pirates, privateers and navies
  • Illicit trades, smuggling and border control