Department of History

Communities and nations need history to give dimension and meaning to the present, in the same way that individuals need memory to shape identity and make good decisions.


History at Adelaide equips you to think historically about the world, empowering you to understand who we are, how we got here, why we behave as we do, and how things change. We learn historical knowledge in the family, at home, on television and we use it every day to help us make decisions. Advances in historical knowledge by history researchers give depth and complexity to the histories we learn elsewhere, and in History at Adelaide we draw on that new research to enable our students to make better decisions in the workplace, in the public sphere, and even in everyday life.

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  • Our teaching

    Staff in The Department of History teach on a wide range of times and places, from the medieval to modern, and across Asia, the Americas, Australasia, and Europe. In first year, students will cover all of these times and places, using the themes of Empire and Revolution to give students a firm foundation in global histories. In following years, students select from a range of courses that offer historical knowledge and provide training in historiographical skills, sources and methods, analysis and interpretation, and writing and communication. Courses range from those that provide a firm grounding and understanding of national history, including Australian history, heritage and culture, not least Aboriginal history, to those that focus particular themes or topics, such as historical memory or the history of science. Throughout their degree, students will think about how change happens and the implications for the contemporary world.

    With a strong emphasis on research, students at Adelaide learn how to apply their knowledge and to make better decisions. History provides a general education, covering topics as diverse as society, economy, politics, medicine, technology, family life, race, gender and class, material culture studies, religion and much more. Our graduates are therefore trained to make 360 degree assessments of their environment and to think broadly and reflectively about the widescale implications of different actions. In third year students apply the research skills they have learned across the degree in our Capstone course that consolidates our graduate attributes. At Honours, students research independently, preparing them for independent research, analysis and communication in the workplace or for further study.

    Study History 

    Learn about a selection of our courses on these short videos. The following video is for the course - New York City in Revolution.

  • Our people



    Prof Rachel Ankeny

    History of food, history and philosophy of science, migration history, food ethics, food culture, bioethics, health/science policy

    A/Prof Katie Barclay

    The history of emotions and family life; histories of subjectivity and identity creation; histories of Britain, particularly Scotland and Ireland between the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries

    Dr Thomas Buchanan

    American History

    Dr Jenni Caruso

    Aboriginal people and issues (history)

    A/Prof Vesna Drapac 

    Modern European history; immigration to Australia since 1945.

    A/Prof Rob Foster

    Aboriginal people and issues (history), esp. South Australian Aboriginal history, comparative Indigenous history, South Australian History, Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide.

    Prof Amanda Nettelbeck

    British colonial and imperial history, Australian history, Indigenous history, histories of violence, histories of humanitarianism, histories of policing, historical memory, memorialization and museum culture.

    Dr Gareth Pritchard 

    Modern European history focussing on the social history of politics in the post-World War Two period

    A/Prof Paul Sendziuk 

    Twentieth-Century Australian History, post-war immigration, public health and the history of disease

    Dr Claire Walker 

    Early Modern Religion, Gender and Politics

  • Our scholarships

    The School of Humanities has a number of History scholarships and prizes available. Visit the Faculty of Arts for more information.

    Our Scholarships


  • Our research

    The Department of History has a vibrant research culture with a significant cohort of postgraduate researchers. 

    Our department has a particular strength in Australian history, including colonial conflict and peace-keeping, Aboriginal history and culture, contemporary political activism and citizenship, and migration.

    Drawing on our world-class British studies collection, funded by the Benham Bequest, there is also a strength in early modern British history, particularly relating to women, gender, family life, emotion and law. Research on emotion is particularly the focus of the ARC Centre of Excellence in the History of Emotions, which has a node in the department.

    Modern European history is well-represented and our researchers hold specialisms in political conflict and protest, rising nationalisms, and the world wars. Changing economies are critical for several of our researchers, underpinning histories of food production and ethics, business and global capitalism, and accounting across regions as diverse as the USA, UK and Australia. Our historical research is underpinned by an array of approaches, from material culture studies, film and art, to oral histories and ethnography, to databases and mapping, to an interrogation of the written form. Our culture is supported by regular seminars and workshops, postgraduate training, and early career mentorship.

    Higher degrees by research

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