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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.


Undergraduate Teaching

HST5224 – Piracy and Civilisation
HST6386 – Sea Power and Empire
HST6752 – Pacific Encounters

Undergraduate Teaching


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 and Pacific oceans. 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 Pacific
Histories of maritime violence
Cultures of maritime radicalism 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 and Pacific oceans)
European imperialism, 1500-1914
Pirates, privateers and navies
Illicit trades, smuggling and border control

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