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School of History

Dr Robert Saunders


Reader in Modern British History

Telephone: 020 7882 8347
Room Number: ArtsTwo 3.04


I specialise in modern British history, from the early 19th century to the present,  focusing particularly on political history and the history of ideas. I taught at Oxford University from 2004 to 2013, and have held two visiting fellowships at the Huntington Library in California. When time allows, I blog (link is external) and I have a personal website (link is external)


Research Interests:

I have four main research areas:

  • the history of democracy and democratic thought in Britain
  • the political and intellectual history of Thatcherism
  • the relationship between Bitain and the European Union
  • the influence of Europe and America on British political culture

My first book, Democracy and the Vote in British Politics (link is external), explored the making of the second reform act in 1867. My second book, co-edited with Ben Jackson, was a collection of essays called Making Thatcher’s Britain (link is external), published in 2012, while my third, an edited collection called 'Shooting Niagara - and After? The Second Reform Act and its World (link is external), was published in 2017. My next book, a history of the first referendum on British membership of the European Community, is currently under consideration with an academic press. I have also written articles and book chapters on subjects including Chartism, the Ulster Crisis and the influence of the American Civil War on British politics.

As a keen singer, I am also interested in the use of music by political movements. My next book, to be published in 2016, explores the 1975 referendum on British membership of the European Community.





Dr Saunders welcomes applications from candidates wishing to undertake doctoral research in the following areas:

  • The history of democracy and of electoral reform in Britain since 1830
  • The Thatcher and Major governments of 1979-97, and modern British politics more broadly
  • The idea of America in British politics, especially in the 19th century
  • British membership of the European Community/European Union, and public attitudes towards Europe
  • The relationship between politics and religion in Britain since 1801

Current PHD Students

  • Steve Bentel – Post-colonial London
  • Adam Broadbent – The Politics of Monetarism 1978-1987
  • Richard Knight – The case for the South: pro-Confederate arguments in Britain during the American Civil War
  • Colm Murphy – Modernisation and the Left in Britain
  • Sophie Wilson – Race, Judaism and the British Women's Suffrage Movement c.1860-1918