Professor Elaine Fulton MA, MLitt, PhD, FRHistS, FHEA

Professor Elaine Fulton

School of History and Cultures
Professor of History Education
Director of Education, College of Arts and Law

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I have been part of the Department of History since 2003, where I have taken a particular interest in the development of the undergraduate history syllabus and enhancement of teaching; I have also been Head of Department. My historical research has focussed on the complex interplay between politics, society and religion in early-modern German-speaking Europe, and my current project is working on a history of the Habsburg dynasty.


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, University of Birmingham, 2010
  • PhD in History, University of St Andrews, 2003
  • MLitt (with Distinction) in Reformation Studies, University of St Andrews, 1998
  • MA (First Class) in Modern History, University of St Andrews


I was born and raised in Northern Ireland and left there at 18 to read Modern History at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, where I first discovered a love of Reformation History. Thanks to the expertise and encouragement of the early-modernists at St Andrews, in particular Andrew Pettegree and Bruce Gordon, I stayed to pursue postgraduate study at St Andrews and was funded by the award of two scholarships: a one-year studentship from the Humanities Research Board of the British Academy to support the M.Litt. degree, and a Caledonian Research Foundation Scholarship to fund the PhD. Between 1999 and 2003 I also taught on a broad range of Modern History courses at the Universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh. I was appointed to my current post at the University of Birmingham in 2003.

I am currently Director of Education for the College of Arts and Law. I was an elected member of University Senate 2012-16 and Head of History 2015-18. I became the College’s first teaching-focussed Professor in 2018.



First year

  • Reformation for Renaissance, Reformation, Revolution: The Making of the Modern World, 1500-1800
  • History of Christianity

Second year

  • Optional Unit: seminar tutor and course designer of ‘Embarrasing bodies: medicine, madness and morality in early modern Europe’
  • Group Research: seminar tutor and course designer of ‘Teaching history'
  • Dissertation Preparation: usually on subjects in early-modern history or the history of religion

Third year

  • Special Subject: seminar tutor and course designer of ‘Histories of Hate: Fear and Loathing in Early Modern Europe’
  • Advanced option: seminar tutor and course designer of ‘Hidden from History: Homosexuality through History, from Ancient Greece to the present day’
  • Dissertation Supervision: usually on subjects in early-modern history or the history of religion


  • Group facilitator for Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice Action Learning Sets
  • Seminar tutor on MA in Renaissance, Reformation and Early Modern Studies core course: Religious Reformations in Early Modern Britain and Europe
  • MA dissertation supervision

Postgraduate supervision

My research interests have given me experience of and enthusiasm for a number of broader themes which I would be keen to supervise. These include aspects of early-modern Catholic reform, the Habsburg dynasty, early-modern politics, and the interaction between people and environment in early-modern Europe. Doctoral and MPhil students who I currently supervise or have supervised work on a range of topics:


  • Thomas Wood (co-supervision with Simone Laqua-O’Donnell):  Dragons in early modern German religious culture (in progress)
  • Yasmin Vetter (co-supervision with Jonathan Willis): The Elizabethan Church and Marian Exile (in progress)
  • Laverne Smith (co-supervision with Nathan Cardon and Tom Cutterham): Anglican Virginia And Regular Baptists: A Reflection On The Effects Of Government-Regulated Toleration (in progress)
  • Tayler Meredith (co-supervision with Jonathan Willis): Divine Disorder: Environmental Change, Natural Disaster and English Communities, c.1550-1650 (in progress)
  • Ruth Atherton (co-supervision with Simone Laqua-O’Donnell): Pedagogy and Persuasion: The Power of the Catechism in Germany, 1529-1597 (successfully defended in 2017)
  • Charles Byrd II (co-supervision with Allan Anderson): Pentecostalism’s Anabaptist Heritage? (successfully defended in 2017)
  • George Doukas: The World of Pierre Boaistuau: Man, Sin and Nature in Early Modern Europe (successfully defended in 2011)


  • Adrian Roberts: Truth is Unkillable: Non-Resistance and ‘The Sword’ in the Theology of Balthasar Hubmaier, 1523-1528 (passed in 2012)
  • Lesley Smith (co-supervision in History of Medicine): John Ince’s Leech Book (passed 2015)

Find out more - our PhD History  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My first monograph, entitled Catholic Belief and Survival in Late-Sixteenth Century Vienna, was published by Ashgate in May 2007. Focused on the career of one of the most prominent Catholic figures of late sixteenth-century Vienna, Georg Eder (1523-1587), this work highlighted the role of the Catholic laity in instigating, enacting and supporting Catholic reform in the early-modern period.

I have also published work pertaining to Disaster History, East Central European History, and Reformation History more broadly (please see Publications section). I am currently planning an undergraduate-level textbook on the Habsburgs and sixteenth century Europe, as well as engaging in pieces of pedagogical research.

Other activities

I have also participated in numerous quality audits, internal reviews and appointment and promotion committees.


  • I am currently external examiner for History programmes at the University of Warwick and National University of Ireland, Galway. I have previously served as external examiner for the History programme at Nottingham Trent University; the MPhil in Reformation and Enlightenment Studies at Trinity College, Dublin; and the UG and PG History programmes at the University of St Andrews.
  • In 2013/14 I was a member of the QAA Review Panel for the 2014 History Subject Benchmark Statement; 2018-19 I also participated as a panel member in the TEF subject pilot.
  •  I have spoken at after-school History clubs and A level study events at Bolton Girls School, Leicester Grammar School and Stowe School.


I was co-organiser of a Higher Education Academy workshop on Commemoration and Conflict: Challenges for HE practitioners in History, Area Studies, and Philosophical and Religious Studies’ in 2014, and also a workshop on ‘New Directions in Catholic Reformation Research’ in 2012, both held at the University of Birmingham.

I have contributed to sessions on the University of Birmingham’s Emerging Leadership Programme at the Universities HR conference in Leeds (2015), and on the College of Arts and Law Student Experience at the University of Birmingham Learning and Teaching Conference (2015).

I have also presented research papers at the University of Oxford (2009); Renaissance Studies Society annual conference (Dublin, 2008); the Ecclesiastical History Society annual conference (Galway, 2008); American Historical association annual conference (Washington DC, 2008); a conference of the politics of disaster (Berne, 2007); a conference on Religion and Authority in Central Europe at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, 2006); at Grant MacEwan College (Edmonton, 2006), Reformation Studies Colloquium (Oxford, 2006); the Institute of Historical research (London, 2002); the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference (Denver, Colorado, 2001) and at Babes-Bolyai University (Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 2001)


  • Rebecca O’Loughlin and Elaine Fulton, ‘Enquiry into Learning and Teaching in the Humanities’, in Elizabeth Cleaver, Maxine Lintern and Mike McLinden (eds), Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Sage, London, 2014), pp. 178-194 (Sage, London, 2014), pp. 178-194
  • Elaine Fulton, ‘Touching theology with unwashed hands: the preservation of authority in post-Tridentine Catholicism’, in Helen Parish, Elaine Fulton and Peter Webster (eds), The Search for Authority in Reformation Europe (St Andrews Studies in Reformation History, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2014), pp. 89-106
  • Elaine Fulton, ‘Acts of God. The Confessionalisation of Disaster in Reformation Europe’, in Andrea Janku, Gerrit J. Schenk, Franz Mauelshagen (eds), Historical Disasters in Context: Science, Religion, and Politics (Routledge Studies in Cultural History, London, 2012), pp. 54-74
  • Elaine Fulton, ‘Mutual aid: the Jesuits and the courtier in sixteenth-century Vienna’, in Maria Craciun and Elaine Fulton (eds), Communities of Devotion. Religious Orders and Society in East Central Europe, 1450-1800 (Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2011), pp.171-196
  • Elaine Fulton and Penny Roberts, ‘The Hand of God: Reactions to Crisis and Natural Disasters in Pre-Modern Europe’ in Mark Levene et al (eds), History at the end of the World? History, Climate Change and the Possibility of Closure (Troubadour/Humanities e-books, 2010), pp. 67-79
  • Elaine Fulton, Catholic Belief and Survival in Late Sixteenth-Century Vienna: the Case of Georg Eder, 1523-87 (St Andrews Studies in Reformation History, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2007)
  •  Elaine Fulton, ‘”Wolves and Weathervanes”: Confessional Moderation at the Habsburg Court of Vienna’, in Luc Racaut and Alec Ryrie (eds.), Moderate Voices in the European Reformation (St Andrews Studies in Reformation History, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2005), pp. 145-161