Welcome to the Department of History

Professor Penny Russell

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Department of History at the University of Sydney. Established in 1891, the department is the oldest in Australia, but it is a young place too. We teach, and learn from, outstanding students as they begin to make their way in the world. And in recent years we have been lucky enough to recruit a large number of exceptional new lecturers trained at some of the world's greatest universities. They complement a group of established scholars of distinction, including two Australian Research Council Laureate Fellows.

We write and teach on a wide variety of time periods and national or regional settings, with particular strengths in American, Australian, European, and Chinese history. Some of us study culture and some politics; many of us work in the areas of international and transnational history that have energized and transformed the study of the past in recent times. One unifying thread is a curiosity about ideas in action – that is, how ideas and ideals were developed, challenged, lived with in particular situations. How were concepts of freedom tested in practice by African Americans in nineteenth-century U.S. cities? By diplomats and international lawyers? By indigenous people navigating the judicial system? By artists? By hackers? (To cite examples from courses we’ve taught in the past few years.)

Each year we offer a rich array of courses, and we continually review and renew our curriculum. Many of our staff have won awards for their teaching as well as their research. We are committed to giving our students a world-class education and a gateway to life beyond university.

You'll find answers to many of your questions on our website, but often it's better to get in touch with a staff member directly. We're always keen to talk to you.

Professor Chris Hilliard
Chair, Department of History