Policy Papers

History & Policy papers are written by expert historians, based on peer-reviewed research. They offer historical insights into current policy issues ranging from Afghanistan and Iraq, climate change and internet surveillance to family dynamics, alcohol consumption and health reforms. For historians interested in submitting a paper, please see the editorial guidelines.

Currently, 177 papers are freely searchable by theme, author or keyword, with new papers published regularly. Where possible, we publish papers to coincide with relevant policy developments. If you are a policy maker, civil society practitioner or journalist and would like to contact one of our historians, please contact historyandpolicy@kcl.ac.uk.

You can download 2014 H&P policy papers directly from the Apple iBooks store to your iPhone, iPad or Mac. We also have an Amazon Kindle version to download to your PC for transfer to your Kindle via USB cable. Please consult your Kindle manual for further details.


Censorship and National Security: Information Control in the Second World War and Present Day

How much should citizens know about the activities of governments? Henry Irving and Judith Townend look back to light-touch press censorship during World War Two and draw out its relevance for today.

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University fees in historical perspective

Prof. Robert Anderson looks at the history of university tuition fees and asks whether the restoration of free higher education in England is politically possible, or indeed, desireable. 

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Food Poisoning: An On-going Saga

Prof. Anne Hardy examines historical outbreaks of food poisoning, and questions why the United Kingdom lags behind Scandanavia in terms of prevention. 

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The Right to Buy: History and Prospect

The Conservatives have announced proposals to extend the Right to Buy (RTB) to housing association tenants. Prof. Alan Murie argues that, as with previous Right To Buy schemes, the long term costs of dismantling the public and social rented sector will result in increased public funds being used to finance this extension to housing associations. 

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Student solidarity across borders: Students, universities and refugee crises past and present

The current refugee crisis poses difficult questions about integration strategies. Georgina Brewis draws inspiration from how students and universities responded to past crises.

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History matters… but which one? Every refugee crisis has a context

Today's European refugee crisis is often compared to the exodus catalysed by the Nazi regime or the Cold War. Jessica Reinisch argues that the flight of Syrians, Eritreans and others is only superficially similar to past crises. Nonetheless, there are striking continuities in how states respond to refugees, she argues.

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‘For God’s sake, act like Britain’ Lessons from the 1960s for British defence policy

Policy makers today need to balance proliferating military responsibilities on modest budgets. Longinotti considers the lessons from the 1960s when the Wilson Government found itself in a similar situation.

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The legacy of 1885: girls and the age of sexual consent

The age of sexual consent - 16 years - has remained since 1885 despite concerns today regarding child sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy. Dr Victoria Bates warns against drawing direct comparisons with this 130-year-old law to promote or resist change to the age of consent.

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Scandals and silences: the British press and child sexual abuse

Until the 1970s British press coverage of child sexual abuse was ‘scanty, timid and evasive’. This failure to treat abuse as a serious problem has changed. But according to Dr Adrian Bingham, of Sheffield University, elements of this earlier journalistic culture remain today. 

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Child welfare, child protection and sexual abuse, 1918-1990

Across the twentieth century, poor coordination among social workers, welfare charities and doctors meant that most child sexual abuse was undetected. When cases did come to light, the response was often inadequate. While the situation has changed, Dr Lucy Delap argues that some past practices and beliefs remain, risking child safety today. 

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About Us


H&P is a unique collaboration between the Institute of Contemporary British History at King's College London and the University of Cambridge.

We are the only project in the UK providing access to an international network of more than 500 historians with a broad range of expertise. H&P offers a range of resources for historians, policy makers and journalists.

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