Over the years I have taught on, designed and coordinated a range of modules, from Year 1 of BA provision to final-year courses. I have been involved in programme and module design, quality assurance processes and steps to decolonise and diversify offerings in history generally and medieval history specifically. I am particularly interested in teaching that focuses on cross-period themes, that is global in scope, and that encourages students to think about history as a set of concepts, practices and ways of looking at the world.
Here you can find details of my BA teaching experience, grouped under thematic headings, and covering programme and module design and teaching contributions.
Thinking about the past:
Some of my most rewarding teaching has involved thinking about what it means to study the past in a holistic, ground-up way. I had the privilege between 2016 and 2020 to take a leading role in a reform of BA programmes across History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London. I worked with colleagues to develop a suite of modules which led students from their first steps studying the past right through to an independent research dissertation. Thinking about how to develop core competencies, develop outward-looking and engaged historical practice and about how to give students confidence in themselves and in their environment helped me to grow as a scholar and teacher. At the University of Leeds I have been involved in module design for new Year 1 BA modules also focussing on key skills and introducing students to thinking about their own identity as historians. I have also enjoyed using my own research into coins and Indian Ocean history to think about how to understand and use primary and secondary sources.
The global Middle Ages:
Thinking specifically about the Middle Ages, I have contributed to traditional survey modules of the period c. 300-1500, and at Birkbeck co-developed and ran a survey module, ‘From Constantine to the Khans’, which took a consciously global view of this sweep of time. I’ve also led group teaching and designed my own sole-taught modules on more specific aspects of the Middle Ages, including a module on Eurasia c. 500-1000 for Birkbeck and modules on the East Roman/Byzantine Empire. In all of my medieval teaching, I aim for a global focus with comparative and connected perspectives on Afro-Eurasia. For me, the Middle Ages is a period full of possibility for reframing ideas about agency and influence in the world and for interrogating post-colonial legacies in the present. It is also a chance to let students explore unfamiliar worlds through the material, the everyday and the unexpected.
The past in the present:
In all of my teaching, I believe that the role of the historian is to speak to the present through the past. From Covid-19 to the war in Ukraine to the legacies of imperialism and scientific racism, I try to use my classroom to give students the tools, the space and the context of understanding and respect to explore the world they live in and to broaden their perspective on critical challenges for the present. This included in 2019/20 a co-designed module with colleagues working on a range of modern historical topics to explore and challenge the concept of the ‘failed state’. As the Covid-19 lockdown reached the UK in March 2020, it was exciting to talk with students in our final seminar of this module and see how case studies from the Carolingian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, nineteenth-century Southern Africa and post-war European reconstruction combined to offer new ways to evaluate things like state capacity, community responses to crisis and international cooperation.
Supervising dissertation projects is one of my favourite aspects of teaching history. I have successfully supervised BA dissertations on a wide range of topics including the archaeology for the Roman cult of Mithras, disputes in the early Church (1st century AD), the role of gender in the Viking world, Muslim-Christian relations in medieval Spain and the Roman rhetoric about barbarians in modern far-right discourse. I have also mentored dissertation students working on the role of Maoism in Naxalite movements in India and on the role of China-hands in the development of US foreign policy in the mid-twentieth century. There is very little more satisfying than helping a student to undertake their first piece of independent, self-driven scholarship on a topic of their choice.