Dr Phil Child

Dr Phil Child

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology
Honorary Research Fellow

Contact details

School of Social Policy
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT

Phil is a political historian of modern Britain, focused on cities, housing and voluntary action. He is also a member of the Civil Society and Volunteering research theme and an associate member of the Centre for Modern British Studies within the Department of History.  


  • PhD in History, University of Exeter (2016)
  • MPhil in Modern European History, King's College, University of Cambridge (2012)
  • BA (Hons) in History with European Study, University of Exeter (2010)


Phil studied history at undergraduate level at the University of Exeter and took his MPhil at the University of Cambridge, before returning to the University of Exeter for his PhD. He began working at the University of Birmingham in July 2017, as a Research Fellow on the Leverhulme Trust-funded project ‘Community-level perspectives on post-war change in the British voluntary sector’ based in TSRC. Following completion of that project in December 2019, Phil returned to the department as an Honorary Research Fellow in March 2020. 


Phil has contributed to a number of undergraduate and postgraduate modules, including: 

  • Philosophies of Welfare
  • Policy into Practice
  • Policy Analysis
  • From Beveridge to May
  • Dissertation Supervision


Phil’s research is concerned with the political context of urban change in modern Britain.

 Under contract with Manchester University Press, he is currently writing his first book, grounding our cultural memory of post-1945 urban change within a context of left-wing political ideas about the future of Britain, placing the Labour Party at the centre of the discussion. Taking a particular focus on housing, the book explores how left-wing actors understood urban modernism and how they sought to assimilate the mood for change into existing socialist desires. Part of this research has been published in a well-received article on rent control in Twentieth Century British History.

 Other recent research has considered the landscape of voluntary action in Birmingham from 1945 to the present day, as a strand of the Leverhulme Trust-funded project ‘Community-level perspectives on post-war change in the British voluntary sector.’ A recent article in The Historical Journal discusses elite understandings of voluntary action as experienced in Aston in north Birmingham, used as an evidence base for Lord Beveridge’s 1948 Voluntary Action report via a little-studied Mass-Observation survey. Further research from this project includes: the black experience of homelessness and the Urban Programme in 1980s Handsworth; the rape crisis movement and women’s access to urban space in 1980s Birmingham; and Catholic action on youth employment in post-war Britain.



Child, Phil (forthcoming), The Socialist Imaginary: The Labour Party and Urban Modernism, 1945-1970 (Manchester University Press).

Journal articles:

Child, Phil (2019) ‘Blacktown, Mass-Observation and the dynamics of voluntary action in mid-twentieth century England’The Historical Journal, 63:3, 754-776

Child, Phil (2018)  ‘Landlordism, Rent Regulation and the Labour Party in mid-twentieth century Britain, 1950-64’, Twentieth Century British History, 29:1, 79-103.

Book reviews and short publications:

Child, Phil (2020), Review: Otto Saumarez Smith, Boom Cities: architect-planners and the politics of radical urban renewal in 1960s Britain (Oxford, 2019), Contemporary British History, 34:2, 325-326. 

Child, Phil (2018) ‘Wladimir Fischer-Nebmaier Matthew P. Berg and Anastasia Christou (eds.) (2015) Narrating the City: Histories, Space and the EverydayUrban History, 45:1, 181-182.

Child, Phil (2016), ‘Tower block boom: how high rise apartments became the height of luxury’, The Conversation.

Child, Phil (2015), ‘Peter Shapely (ed.) (2014) People and Planning: report of the committee on public participation in planning (The Skeffington Committee Report)Planning Perspectives, 30:3, 484-485.

Child, Phil (2014), ‘Regulating housing: neither new nor radical’, History & Policy

View all publications in research portal