I'm an historian specializing in the history of political thought, the history of universities, and the history of the humanities and social sciences. I was educated at St Catherine's College, Oxford (1st Class in Modern History, 1983) and at Nuffield College, Oxford (D.Phil 1988). I was a Research Fellow of Nuffield College (1986-88) and Lecturer at New College, Oxford (1988-90), before appointment at Manchester in 1990. I have remained here ever since, initially in the Department of French Studies and since 1994 in the Department of History. I served as Head of History from 2000 to 2003. I have been Professor of Intellectual History since 2008.
I currently hold a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for the period 2020-23.
I have a particular interest in PhD supervision and training, and served as Associate Dean for Postgraduate Research in the Faculty of Humanities from 2017 to 2020, overseeing programmes with around a thousand research students. From 2014-17 I was Director of the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership, which in 2013 was awarded around £14 million by the AHRC to provide doctoral training across seven universities and HEIs in the region. I led the DTP's successful reapplication to AHRC, which is supporting five further cohorts of doctoral students starting in 2019.
I also chair the University's Research Group on University History, which promotes research in the history of universities. We hold biennial symposia, the third and most recent in September 2019 on Recognition, Reinterpretation, and Restitution: Universities and their Contested Pasts. We also have a blog promoting university history, www.universityhistories.com.
I am the author or editor of five books, including two monographs with Cambridge University Press, and my papers have appeared in the Historical Journal, the Journal of the History of Ideas, Modern Intellectual History, the European Journal of Political Theory, History of European Ideas, etc. I have held a number of research grants (AHRC, British Academy, Leverhulme) and visiting appointments, including a Visiting Fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford, where I studied the vices of endowed foundations. I have held external examiner appointments at Oxford, Cambridge, Queen Mary University of London, Huddersfield and Cardiff.