Robert Brown

Robert Brown

Department of History
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Social Investigation and Housing Reform 1884 – 1924: The Campaigns for Municipal House Building in Oxford and Birmingham
Supervisor: Dr Malcolm Dick and Professor Nicholas Crowson
PhD History



  • BA (Hons) Law 
  • Professional Qualification of the Chartered Institute of Housing 
  • MSoc Sc (CURS, Birmingham University)
  • Certificate in Management 
  • Diploma in Modern Social History Research (Open University)
  • Postgraduate Certificate for Teachers in Higher Education 
  • MA History (Open University)



I worked in the social housing sector for local authorities and housing associations before teaching on Housing Studies degree programmes.


  • Freelance Tutor – Chartered Institute of Housing – 2000 - 2021
  • Senior Lecturer (P/T) – Middlesex University – 2006 - 2015
  • Senior Lecturer (P/T) – Oxford Brookes University – 2002 - 2005


My research will examine how national debates about the ‘Housing question’ before the First World War were reflected at a local level and their implications for inter-war housing policy. Two case studies of Oxford and Birmingham will explore the campaigns for the provision of municipal housing and how the local authorities responded to the housing problems in their areas.

The research focus is on housing reformers, rather than housing schemes, on people rather than property. The research will explore the influence of local housing campaigners, the extent of working-class involvement in campaigns, the role of social investigation in highlighting the problem and the significance of pre-First World War housing debates for inter-war housing provision. A comparative approach is taken of two case study areas both opposed to municipal housebuilding to bring out any commonalities or differences in local civic culture and its impact on the housing problem. Both case studies have their peculiarities, the civic gospel and Liberal Unionism in Birmingham and the influence of the University in Oxford on local government.

To date, with access to archives restricted, research has been limited to online primary sources, such as the British Newspaper Archive.

Other activities

  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing
  • The Politics of Poverty: Poverty Debates and the Administration of the Poor Law in Oxford – 1873 – 1900, Dissertation for MA History (Open University), 2018
  • An Examination of Oxford City Council Mortgage Arrears Cases Over Time and the Effects of Tenure on Indebtedness, Dissertation for MSocSc, Birmingham University, 1989  


Alessio D’Angelo, Mattia Fumanti, Robert Brown, Young Homeless Refugees in London: An Exploratory Research - Middlesex University, 2009  

Arrears among Right to Buy Purchasers in Oxford – Housing Review, Vol 40 No 2, March – April 1991, pp. 42 - 44

Wholesome Dwellings: Housing Need in Oxford and the Municipal Response, 1800 – 1939, by Malcolm Graham, Midland History, Book Review,