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, 204 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.


Escaping the Thucydides Trap in political commentary

Thucydides is often confidently invoked as a source of timeless political principles – in reality, his narrative explores the complex, unpredictable nature of events, and the power of rhetoric

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‘The last milestone’ on the journey to full adult suffrage? 50 years of debates about the voting age

Adrian Bingham reflects on the potential impacts of granting 'Votes at 16' on the British uncertain political landscape: do sixteen year-olds have the democratic capacity (or inclination) to make informed decisions, or is this part of a wider debate about the definition of citizenship in Britain?

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Safeguarding academic freedom in a neonationalist political moment

Mike Finn shows that a century of - more or less - academic freedom in the UK cannot be taken for granted, as the state-university relationship changes and the pressures of marketisation grow, against a backdrop of neonationalist elements entering into political discourse.

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‘No promotion of homosexuality’: Section 28 and the No Outsiders protests

George Severs shows that since Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was repealed there has been little guidance from government on how to implement LGBT-inclusive education. It would be easier to resolve the current controversy, centring on the LGBT education programme in Birmingham schools, if the Department for Education issued new guidelines. 

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Maternity care reform in English prisons: a century of unanswered concerns

Historically the prison system was designed with male prisoners in mind. A landmark enquiry in 1919 laid down the first recommendations for addressing the needs of pregnant women in prison. A century on, the basic requirement that all babies and pregnant women should receive consistent high quality care remains unmet in many ways.

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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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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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