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School of History

Dr Chris Sparks


Senior Lecturer in Digital History

Room Number: Arts Two, 4.04


My work revolves around the use of computers to improve the ways in which people can investigate, teach, and learn about the past. I have worked in a variety of teaching-focused roles within higher education which have given me unique insights into the aptitudes and behaviour of staff and students and an ethos I call ‘digital pragmatism’. This ethos recognises both the vital role that the digital now plays in the practice of what it is to be a historian and the consequences for how we deliver education and student experience in terms of content, tools and skills development. But it is rooted in an understanding of the need always to focus on the complexity of the ‘human’ in the digital humanities: from the student grappling with the mechanism of an online archive search to the academic keeping track of their advisees.

I completed my BA, MA and PhD in History at the University of York, and have worked at QMUL since 2012.


I develop the School’s strategy for Digital education, working closely with the senior leadership team and colleagues in Professional Services.

I also support individual colleagues in the use of digital teaching resources, in particular, by working to develop innovative and engaging ways to involve students in research-led teaching.  This encompasses use of the institutional Moodle VLE, and also includes initiatives like the use of blogging as an assessment method, as well as other technologies.  I was a co-creator of the School’s Writing Matters blog/vlog series and of its blog The Historian.

I am a co-organiser of a Hands:On, a Digital Skills Training Network run in collaboration with Cambridge University Library.  Our 2018 Hackathon was featured in Cambridge University Library’s Annual Report for 2017-18, and I wrote a post about it on the School’s blog.

I have also devised and developed E-Clio, a bespoke web-based Learning Analytics platform and Student Engagment monitoring system which is used in the School to support teaching administration and by Academic Advisers in their pastoral and academic support roles.

I have expert knowledge of a range of methodologies and technologies, and I create and run training and awareness sessions in Digital Humanities for staff and students at all levels.  I have run sessions on Digital Mapping, App Design and Development, Digital Editing, Web technologies, and Bibliographic Management.


HST5618 – A History of the Internet

HST5613 – London in the First World War, Building a Digital History (co-taught with Professor Dan Todman)


Research Interests:

I collaborate and advise on Digital Humanities projects with colleagues and external partners. I co-produced the Leverhulme Trust-funded Artists in Paris website with Dr Hannah Williams, which launched in 2018. I also undertake consultancy work in this area, for example the Paris Occupied site (funded by Eastern Academic Research Consortium and supported by University of Kent, School of History) which I co-developed.

I have been a co-organiser of Queen Mary's Digital Humanities seminar series and have been on the organising committee of both QMUL's Digital Initiatives Network and the EU-funded Digital Editing of Medieval Manuscripts international training programme.

I advise colleagues on the benefits of using technology in their research, and can provide assistance during the grant-writing process. I also provide advice on resource requirements, and offer practical support once projects have been set up.

I manage the School’s network of research sites and can assist colleagues in setting up a new project site.

I am a historian of religion in the Middle Ages.  My Ph.D., awarded in 2009, in the Department of History and the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York. 


Hannah Williams & Chris Sparks, Artists in Paris: Mapping the 18th-Century Art World (2018),

Nigel Perrin and Chris Sparks, Paris Occupied: Mapping Parisian Resistance: 1940-1944 (2020),

Review: Claire Taylor, Heresy Crusade and Inquisition in Medieval Quercy, (Boydell & Brewer, 2011), Nottingham Medieval Studies, 2014

Chris Sparks, Inquisition, Heresy and Life Cycle in Medieval Languedoc  (Boydell& Brewer, 2014)

Website Design and Development

The Historian, the School of History Blog

Centre for the History of the Emotions, Research Centre Website

Living with Feeling project website

Hands:On project website

Yossef Rapoport, Rural Society in Medieval Islam, Research project website

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