News and Views

2021 Academic Job Boot Camp

Academic Job Boot Camp – Monday 6th September 2021, online event.

History UK is pleased to be running the Academic Job Boot Camp again this year, following a forced hiatus in 2020. All early career historians are encouraged to apply, with preference being given to those who have already completed or submitted their PhDs.

  • Are you thinking about applying for your first lectureship in history?
  • Submitting applications and never hearing back?
  • Wishing you could have a ‘test run’ for job applications and interviews?

The Academic Job Boot Camp is a free half-day event for early career historians, sponsored by History UK and supported by History Lab Plus. It will help you to structure your academic CV, hone your cover letter, rehearse your job presentation, and undergo a mock interview, as well as demystifying some of the processes around academic recruitment. The experience, feedback, and advice that you receive at the event is intended to improve your chances the next time you apply for an academic job.

How will the boot camp work?

This event simulates all stages of the job application process, up to and including being interviewed as a shortlisted candidate. You will be interviewed by experienced academics drawn from universities nationwide. You will also deliver a job presentation to other early career historians.

You will receive feedback on your academic CV and cover letter, interview, and presentation. You will also have the opportunity to observe how others approach the job application process, providing peer feedback and support. The event will end with a roundtable discussion, offering the chance to ask questions of academics who have been involved in university recruitment – as well as chatting and networking with others in similar positions to you.

Due to the pandemic, in 2021 this event will take place entirely online. However, many universities were already moving towards introducing online elements to the job application process before the pandemic, so experience with this kind of format is likely to be useful in the future.

You can read posts about the job boot camps from previous years here, here, here and here.


Outline Itinerary (all events to take place online, exact timings TBC):

1-1.15: Welcome.

An introduction to the event and History UK from Simon Peplow, Early Career Researcher representative for History UK.

1.15-3.45: Presentation or Job Interviews. 

During the afternoon you will be asked to participate in four activities:

  1. a 30-minute interview; you will be informed of the exact time of your interview on the day.
  2. observe a 30-minute interview; the time of this will also be made clear to you on the day.
  3. give a 5-minute presentation, followed by 3-4 minutes of questions; led by an experienced academic in front of other early career historians who will provide written feedback.
  4. observe presentations from other attendees, ask questions and provide written feedback.

3.45-4.00: Break.

(As an online event, the obligatory tea/coffee break will unfortunately have to be self-catered!)

4.00-5.00: Roundtable discussion and advice for navigating the academic job market.


This online event is free and sponsored by History UK and History Lab Plus.

To participate, you will need to apply for an imaginary lectureship in a real history programme. Please read the job advert for the Imaginary Lectureship in History here, then submit a letter of application and academic CV to Simon Peplow ( Please also contact Simon if you have any questions.

The deadline for your application is noon on Friday 20th August 2021.
The online event will take place on Monday 6th September 2021.


Reflections on the Research Resilience event

This post is written by Caroline Sampson, Development Manager: National and Networks, The National Archives.

The National Archives’ (TNA) Higher Education Archive Programme (HEAP) and History UK came together recently in a Research Resilience event to look at emerging practices to support academic research and researchers wishing to use archives.  While the disruption caused by the pandemic has clearly shone a spotlight on the barriers caused by service closures, restricted access and so forth, it is clear that some of these obstacles don’t surface solely during a global emergency, but can beleaguer the work of researchers on an everyday level too.

While it was great to hear the experiences of those who shared the work they have been doing over the last 18 months or so to try out creative new ways of facilitating research, it’s clear that this is part of an ongoing journey to explore exactly what barriers academic researchers experience and what opportunities there are to address these.  What the pandemic has done is raise awareness of the extent of the difficulties and provided a testbed for creative solutions.

Front cover of the Guide to Collaboration for Archives and Higher Education (2018)

To make real headway with this, it is vitally important to bring academics and archivists together so that each group can understand the needs and challenges that the other faces.  HEAP has attempted to do this in a variety of different ways but I’m left with a feeling that we have never quite managed to pull this off.  You might find it useful to have a look at the Guide to Collaboration for Archives and Higher Education that TNA and History UK co-created in 2018.

If archivists don’t have a good understanding of the problems researchers are experiencing and of the changes that they would like to see, their attempts to redesign workflows will fall short of what’s needed.  If researchers haven’t understood where the pinch points and constraints lie for archivists, they can’t use their voice to advocate for resources to bring about change.

So, a genuine call to arms!  How can we get these conversations really working and get the right people talking to each other?  If you have any thoughts, send them to me at

In the meantime, I thought it would be useful to share links to interesting resources and articles to read.

Digital Archive Learning Exchange (DALE)

The archivists amongst you might enjoy looking back at some of the events TNA’s DALE network have put on since the start of the pandemic.  DALE was set up to support archivists as they explore digital challenges, build capacity and improve digital skills across the sector.  Anyone is welcome to sign up for DALE events.

‘This time, it’s on the house’ – a webinar exploring how a range of services have continued to reach audiences during the pandemic

‘Strictly on the Download’ – digital preservation in action’: a webinar exploring how services are utilising digital preservation tools and resources to take next steps in delivering effective and high quality projects, and to think about the needs of a new generation of digital researchers.

‘Engage! Producing outstanding digital resources’ – The event included sessions on accessibility, demonstrating impact, developing online content for children, and running a remote volunteering project.

TNA blogs and articles

TNA has also shared a number of blogs that showcase different ways of working during the pandemic.  Not all relate to academic research but the learning and experimentation may well prove transferable and / or spark ideas for new models of service delivery.

Training and skills development

Many of you will be familiar with this already but why not check out the postgraduate archival skills training?

It really does feel as if we are on the cusp of bringing about one of those “once in a generation” shifts in how we redefine the interface between archives and research.  Over to you!  What should it look like?  How do we persuade decision-makers and funders to sign up?  What do we do next?

Call for a research consultant – Advocating for History in UK higher education

History UK is seeking to commission a research study on undergraduate History provision that will help support its mission as an independent body monitoring and promoting History in UK higher education. News of staff cuts and course closures at a number of universities have contributed to a fear that History is under threat, particularly in post-92 universities. Yet there is little publicly available or accessible data that can provide a more detailed picture for History and support History UK’s and staffs’ advocacy for the subject. With this research study, History UK wants to build an evidence base relating to current trends and  future directions of History provision. This will inform the development of a toolkit for historians, providing accessible guidance on what kinds of data is available, where to find it, and ways of using it.

History UK invites Expressions of Interest (EoIs) in this research consultancy by Friday 30 July 2021.

Download this call as a PDF.

Terms of Reference

The objectives of this research consultancy are to:

  • Scope the availability, accessibility, and uses of relevant quantitative and qualitative data relating to History provision in UK higher education over the last five years.
  • Collate and analyse quantitative data on History and History joint-honours degree programmes.
  • Provide guidance on how History staff can be enabled to understand, use and respond to this data.

We envisage that the research consultancy will involve desk-based research, including analysis of HESA data, though we are willing to consider other / additional approaches. The research itself should be organised around four provisional research questions:

  1. What are the regional, national, and UK-wide trends in recruitment for History and History joint-honours degree programmes in UK Higher Education?
  2. What does graduate outcomes and employability data reveal about different types of History graduates, and what are its limitations?
  3. What arguments are being made for the feasibility of History provision in UK Higher Education at university and national levels, and what evidence is being used?
  4. How can History staff use data to advocate for History in their own universities, as well as among History’s different stakeholders?

The research questions will be finalised in consultation with the research consultant, and we will welcome suggestions for changes that will make the findings more useful for History staff.

The expected outputs and deliverables are:

  1. Executive summary (2 pages maximum).
  2. A report presenting the findings of the research and recommendations.
  3. An appendix including all data and sources used.
  4. Presentation to the History UK Steering Committee highlighting key findings (online).

Timeframe and budget:

  • The deadline for EoIs is Friday 30 July 2021.
  • The precise timetable will be negotiated with the research consultant, but we anticipate outputs 1-3 being delivered by Friday 5 November 2021.
  • The presentation to the History UK Steering Committee will be arranged at a mutually convenient time, likely mid-November 2021.
  • The maximum budget for this project is likely to be £8000.


  • The research consultant should have relevant expertise in the analysis of higher education data, as well as a familiarity with higher education policy.
  • There is no requirement for a background in History, though an understanding of the context of History and/or the humanities in higher education may be an advantage.
  • The research consultant may be employed at a higher education institution, but they must be able to work as an independent consultant.
  • The research consultant should have the right to work in the UK.

The Expression of Interest should include:

  • Personal statement and up-to-date CV.
  • A short statement describing the proposed approach and timeframe for the research.
  • Budget for completed delivery of all stated outputs and deliverables, including salary, data access charges, and any VAT (if applicable).

Any enquiries and EoIs should be emailed to by Friday 30 July 2021.

History UK fellowship – history skills passport mapping exercise

History UK is launching a new initiative to develop a history ‘skills passport’. This project will provide a framework for translating the skills that students develop on history courses into the skills language recognised by employers. The aim is to provide history academics and students with a series of resources that will support the embedding of employability within curricula in discipline-specific language. During the first phase of the project we will conduct a mapping exercise, which will involve surveying existing resources on History skills and on employability in History in the UK and abroad, cross-referencing with other disciplines, and identifying gaps.

History UK is seeking a postgraduate student for a short-term fellowship to support the first phase of this initiative. The History UK fellow will conduct desk-based searches of websites, blog posts, and social media for relevant case studies, reports, and other practical guides. They will write clear and concise summaries of their findings to help inform the resources that History UK will produce and curate. They will write at least one blog post for the History UK website on a topic of their choosing (relevant to the initiative), and may also be asked to assist in planning for the next phase of the skills passport project.

The fellow will be expected to do 30 hours work on the project in July, working flexibly at times that suit them. The renumeration for the fellowship is fixed at £500.

Person specification:

  • A postgraduate student (MA or PhD) in History, or a related discipline, based at a higher education institution in the UK;
  • Strong research skills;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills;
  • Ability to work independently and with minimal supervision;
  • Excellent organisation and project management skills;
  • Attention to detail;
  • Experience of writing reports (preferable);
  • Interest in employability (preferable).

To apply: Send a two-page CV and a one-page cover letter to In the cover letter you should explain why you are interested in the role, how you meet the person specification, and what you will bring to the initiative.

The deadline for applications is Weds 23rd June at 4pm.

Closure of History provision at Kingston University

History UK has learnt that on 21 April 2021 History staff at Kingston University were informed that the BA History and MA History degrees were now closed, and that the remaining three History staff would face compulsory redundancy.

Since the undergraduate BA History degree was temporarily ‘suspended’ in 2017, and the postgraduate degree temporarily ‘suspended’ in 2019, the History department has been targeted for closure through what the University and Colleges Union (UCU) at Kingston has called ‘salami slicing by stealth’—staff numbers have shrunk from 10 to 3, and History has been unable to recover. The ‘suspended’ History degrees have now been confirmed as ‘closed’, and the three remaining staff have been informed that ‘zero’ History staff will be retained.

The news from Kingston follows recently-announced cuts to History provision at London South Bank University and Aston University this year, and at Sunderland in 2020, as well as earlier closures elsewhere. At all of these institutions, managers appear to have announced cuts without engaging meaningfully with the affected staff or students. Cuts are justified using dubious claims about the utility and future prospects of humanities degrees and their graduates that are unsupported by evidence. It is worrying that Kingston has also announced other staff cuts and course closures in Media and Communication, Film Cultures, and Politics, International Relations, and Human Rights.

As with those affected by cuts at other institutions, History UK supports colleagues and students at Kingston and will continue to advocate for the continuation of History provision at all kinds of institutions all across the country.

Do get in touch with us if you would like to support our activities or are affected by these cuts. We are on Twitter (@history_uk) and our DMs are open.