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, 199 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 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.


The provision of school meals since 1906: progress or a recipe for disaster?

From the 1870s onwards many poor schoolchildren regularly went to school underfed and unable to benefit from the new compulsory elementary education. Alan Finch traces the ups and downs in provision and uptake of subsidised school meals since 1906, and notes the deterioration in recent years.

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The housing crisis as the long-term casualty of austerity politics, 1918-2018

Brian Lund shows how a century of stop-start building has flowed from relatively short-termist austerity decisions of successive government - despite the clear long-term pay-offs that arise from maintaining house building at reasonable levels.

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‘The Steady State’? Trump, administration insiders and the lessons of medieval England

A well-meaning administration trying to hold governance together in the face of capriciousness at the top has one of its most instructive parallels in the late medieval English polity, as Andrew Spencer shows.

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European Law and the myths of a separate English legal system

Tamar Herzog reflects on the stories societies tell about their legal systems - stories of continuity, revolution and exceptionalism - and on the intertwined history of English and European law.

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Scandal and reform, 1960-2016: can better policies guarantee child welfare in secure custody?

Ben Jarman explores the history of child welfare in the youth justice system to show that overall culture is as important as specific safeguards - a modern emphasis on policy compliance may come at the expense of questioning policy effectiveness.

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Poverty in the Divided Kingdom

Professor Pat Thane reviews a century of trends in poverty and wealth inequality in the UK, and finds a situation disturbingly similar to that of the early twentieth century which first galvanised reformers like Booth and Rowntree. This paper marks the publication of her book Divided Kingdom: A History of Britain, 1900 to the Present (CUP 2018)

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Brexit trades and tariffs: challenges and opportunities for agriculture

John Martin and James Bowen look at the history of British agriculture for possible templates for the future - particularly from previous periods of exposure to free trade.

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Why red tape saves lives: the fire service, tombstone legislation and deregulating safety in Britain

Shane Ewen shows how great improvements in public fire safety are at risk in an age where successive governments are on a mission to cut "red tape" - the result is Grenfell. Will we see a return to the reactive "tombstone legislation" of the 1950s to 1970s?

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Creating ‘cruel’ welfare systems: a historical perspective

Katie Barclay reviews the operation of the nineteenth century workhouse and the twentieth century asylum to show that once emotional and financial investment in welfare systems fails, abuse and cruelty become systemically enabled. 

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Promoting democracy in an ancient state: the case of Egypt

In an exciting collaboration, a contemporary historian and an Egyptologist consider the prospects for democracy in one of the world's oldest continuous states in the light of its ancient past.

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About Us


H&P is an expanding Partnership based at King's College London and the University of Cambridge, and additionally supported by the University of Bristol, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Leeds, the Open University, and the University of Sheffield.

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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