About us

The Centre for Modern and Contemporary History was established as the principal focus for research at Birmingham on the history of Britain, Europe and the wider world since the nineteenth century. 

Drawing together expertise from the School of History and Cultures, the Centre for European Languages and Cultures (CELC), American and Canadian Studies (ACS) and the Centre for Russian and East European Studies (CREES), the Centre provides a unique intellectual forum for academic staff and postgraduates working within the field, and a base for research both for its members and in collaboration with other institutions. The Centre is ideally located for research on any aspect of the modern world.

Subjects and aims of the Centre

The Centre's chief function is to provide an intellectual forum for academic staff and postgraduates working in the field of modern and contemporary history (since c. 1815). The Centre explicitly seeks to facilitate transnational and comparative research on all aspects (social, cultural, political, economic) of the history of the contemporary world. 

Spanning a wide geographical and thematic range, the Centre has particular strengths in the social, political and cultural history of Britain, continental Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and North America. It also embraces a truly global perspective through members' research on non-governmental politics, international relations, conflict and the environment. It is keen to encourage study with the following themes:

  • How the forces of world history have structured society and shaped the lives of people who lived through them
  • Regional and local histories from a global or comparative perspectives
  • The links between imperial, global and transnational histories
  • The development of knowledge for understanding the contemporary world

For more information on staff please see our members page.

Study and resources at the Centre

The Centre supports a wide range of events and programmes open to those wishing to study here.

It supports a research seminar series of invited speakers throughout the academic year as well as an annual lecture, regular round table discussions, and various informal reading groups.  The Centre aims to serve as a focus for conferences and other research events in the field, including collaborative research projects.

Information about the Centre's current and future activity is provided via a regularly updated news and events page

The Centre coordinates the Contemporary History MA as its key postgraduate course. It also supports a broader community of postgraduates studying on a variety of taught programmes or undertaking research that sees local or singular issues from a global perspective, challenging students to find their own intellectual styles while broadening their historical horizons. The postgraduate community at the Centre organise their own events and research skills sessions, which prospective or new students are welcome to join: they help make it a vibrant place to develop new skills and creative thinking. Postgraduate study and research is at the core of the Centre’s aims and ambitions in creating relevant research for understanding the world we live in.

The University of Birmingham also boasts fine facilities for archival and library research, including the German Documentation Centre and the Cadbury Research Library’s Special Collections. In addition, the University Library has excellent holdings on twentieth-century history. For a full list please see our resources page.