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  • Senior Lecturer
  • Dept of History
  • Faculty of S&HS
UCL Principal Supervisor

Dr Michael Collins is Associate Professor of Modern British History. He joined UCL History as a permanent lecturer in 2007 and was awarded his PhD in History by the University of Oxford in 2009. He had previously studied the history of political thought at Cambridge University and politics at the London School of Economics.

Research Summary

Dr Michael Collins is Associate Professor of Modern British History.

He is a historian of politics, broadly defined, with a particular interest in the intellectual and social contexts that shape the formation of political ideas, both in terms of ‘elite’ networks and broader strands of public opinion and belief. He is interested in how political ideas are developed and legitimated in national and international public spheres, and how imperial, international and transnational historical forces impact upon this process. The historical problem within which Dr Collins explores these themes is decolonization: the end of the European empires in the twentieth century. 

His current book project, which builds upon British Academy Small Research Grant SG112645 – ‘Decolonization and Imperial Ideology in British Africa, 1945-1968’ – develops the concept of ‘race thinking’ in 1950s and 1960s Britain. It looks at the complex evolution of ideas about Britain’s self-styled ‘liberal empire’ and the ‘civilising mission’ as the empire came to a formal end, asking questions about the legacy of these ideas in the metropole. 

The book is part of a wider research agenda that seeks to understand and evaluate the diverse ways in which the experience of decolonization shaped Britain from the late 1940s onwards, specifically with regard to questions of immigration, race and national identity.

Whilst Britain constitutes the primary focus of his research, Dr Collins is also interested in comparative perspectives, particularly with the French experience. To this end, he recently secured a UCL Global Engagement grant to establish a PHD/ECR research network on the ‘afterlives of empire’, linking scholars in London, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.

Teaching Summary

Michael's undergraduate teaching covers aspects of modern British, imperial and international history over roughly the last 100 years. He teaches courses on British imperialism and decolonisation and a course on London as an imperial and 'global' city in the twentieth century. His graduate teaching mainly looks at decolonization and British politics since 1945. Michael has a group of PhD students working on decolonization and welcomes applications from students wishing to study for a PhD in this area.

Academic Background
2009   Doctor of Philosophy University of Oxford
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