Bookshelf full of books

Research projects

Research is one of the forces driving the intellectual life of the department. Given the composition and international delivery of our staff, research specialisms are extremely wide-ranging, chronologically and geographically. This breadth is reflected in the choice of subjects on offer in teaching on offer at all levels, from undergraduate to research students.

Current and recent externally funded research projects

Narrative Science

Principal Investigator: Professor Mary S. Morgan 

Research Project Summary 

The aim of this project is to understand the role of narrative in modern science. Narratives have appeared in many places in the human, social and natural sciences over the past two centuries. They can be found both in accounts of real situations and in simulations of virtual situations, in empirical work and in theorizing. It is clear that narratives have played important roles for scientists well beyond the simple act of reporting. Yet we lack an account of what kinds of thing scientists know from using narrative and how such ‘narrative knowing’ is constituted. Indeed, with the notable exceptions of medicine and evolutionary biology, even the study of those fields’ narratives - as narratives - has been largely ignored by both historians of science and narrative scholars.

What do scientists gain from using narratives, what functions do narratives play? Initial research shows that scientists have used narratives to figure out what fits together with what, and to create coherence amongst the elements in their research.  But the means of such ordering vary - from site to site, and from science to science. Narratives used to explore a path dependent system in nineteenth century biology used a different mode of ordering both from the configuring narratives of mid-twentieth century case studies in sociology, and from the ‘how possibly’ narratives of modern computer-based simulations. Such variety requires a broad project, using many case studies to explore the critical role that scientists’ narratives have played in modern science. Making sense of such variety offers an ambitious challenge. But while there is surely no simple answer to why scientists use narratives, all these notions of narrative ordering do have something in common. They suggest that narratives function not just to describe and report as one might expect, they play a much more important role in answering scientists’s own questions and so - in various ways - in providing scientific explanations.  

This project is funded by the EU.

Children's Growth During A Long-run Health Transition: Britain In International Perspective 1850-1995

Funded by the ESRC, this project seeks to reconstruct the growth pattern of British children from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, to understand how improvements in nutrition, sanitation, and medical knowledge during Britain’s long-run health transition from 1850 onwards influenced children’s growth pattern in terms of height, weight and BMI. The data produced will supply a longer-run perspective on the immediate and intergenerational factors influencing children’s growth in Britain and internationally and indicate how the shift from an unhealthy to more healthy growth pattern took place.

The project is led by Dr. Eric Schneider (, and full details of the project can be found here:

Economic Outcomes Flowing From The Revolutionary And Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815

Funded by the Leverhulme Trust and with support from LSE, a network of European economic historians has been formed to examine contrasts in the economic outcomes and potential for long term development that flowed from the Napoleonic wars for several major European economies (including Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany) their overseas colonies. The network will also create case studies for a major book which aims to exemplify the insights obtained from reciprocal comparisons and the value of research in economics and history based upon collaboration. 

The Lead Investigator is (Patrick O’Brien)  located at LSE. 


MACROHIST brings together some of the strongest European departments in history (Geneva, Oxford), economic history (Carlos III, LSE) and economics (Humboldt, Sciences Po, ULB). Its aim is to expose young macroeconomists to the most recent work in macroeconomic and financial history, and to expose young economic and financial historians to the most recent techniques in financial and macroeconomics. The training will involve formal training in the methods of both economics and economic history. It will provide this by drawing not only on the training programmes of the partner institutions, which reflect their differing disciplinary backgrounds, but by providing a series of network-wide training events explicitly geared towards young researchers in macroeconomics and macroeconomic history. 

Read more here.