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Keir Waddington   BA MA PhD

Professor Keir Waddington



Professor of History

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


My interdisciplinary research focuses on the interconnections between medical and environmental history, 1800 to the present.

My current work explores these interconenctions by thinking about health and pollution in the Victorian and Edwardian rural environment, the relationships between climate and public health with a focus on the lived realities of drought, and an analysis of methods of collaboration between the humanities and the sciences both now and historically. The latter is one of the key activities of the ScienceHumanities Initiative, a major project which I co-lead with Professor Martin Willis (English literature). More information on the ScienceHumanities Initiative can be found on its website ( 

My teaching expertise covers urban history, environment history, and the social history of medicine, and more broadly nineteenth-century British and European history. 

I welcome inquiries from potential research students interested in studying the social history of medicine and science and environmental history; and queries from public groups or media outlets interested in my research and scholarship.

For further information on my present research projects and publications please click the relevant tab above.
























  • Andrews, J., Briggs, A., Porter, R., Tucker, P. and Waddington, K. 1997. History of Bethlem. Abingdon: Routledge.




Book sections





My research focuses on the study of the social history of medicine and environmental history. My first monograph, History of Bethlem(1997), resulted from a collaborative project with four other academics to demystify Bedlam and explores its history from its foundation to the present.

My second monograph, Charity and the London Hospitals, 1850-1898 (2000) investigated the dynamics of Victorian hospital fundraising and the nature of London charity, while my fourth monograph The bovine scourge: neat, tuberculosis and public health, 1850-1914 started my current research focus on Victorian and Edwardian public health.

I have also published An introduction to the social history of medicine: Europe since 1500 aimed at undergraduates and postgraduates interested in the social history of medicine.

My present research has two key directions: the first bridges environmental history and the medical humanities to investigate health and pollution in the Victorian and Edwardian rural environment. The project uses a cross-regional analysis to explore how rural communities engaged with poor environmental quality as well as the development and limits of regulation and the actors involved. I focus particularly on ideas and practices of expertise and authority, community responses, landscape and isolation, as well as notions of backwardness and agency, to investigate the physical and regulatory infrastructures put in place to address rural environmental concerns.

The second examines methods of collaboration between the humanities and the sciences, conceived theoretically, politically, and practically. This is undertaken as part of the ScienceHumanities Initiative which I co-lead with Professor Martin Willis, an internationally recognized expert of literature, science and medicine at Cardiff, and Dr James Castell, romanticist and animal studies expert, also at Cardiff. Together we lead a number of projects aimed at understanding and reinvigorating current methodologies of collaboration, with more recent work focusing on Covid futures. As part of this we work in partnership with Duke University's Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Science and Cultural Theory, led by Professor Robert Mitchell, and we host a ScienceHumanities Summer School for international participants (each May). The ScienceHumanities initiative also works in partnership with Fiction meets Science at Bremen University. Our most recent publication is a report Two ways of telling this story: Best practice in interdisciplinary collaboration.

To find out more about this collaborative project, visit the blog at:

I have led research projects related to all of my areas of interest with the support of funding from the AHRC, The Wellcome Trust, ESRC, and from Cardiff University.



  • Making of the Modern World - 20 credits
  • History in Practice - 20 credits
  • Modern Britain - 20 credits
  • Reading History - 20 credits
  • Debating History - 20 credits
  • Making HIstory - 20 credits
  • Environmental Histories - 20 credits
  • Mayhem and Murder - 20 credits
  • Dissertation - 40 credits

Postgraduate research

I accept suitably qualified PhD students interested in all aspects of the social history of medicine, environmental history, and social history related to nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain as well as related fields in Victorian urban and social history.


I joined the School of History and Archaeology as a Research Fellow in September 1999, and since then have worked in a range of roles in the School from Director of Postgraduates to Director of Research and Engagement and more recently as Director of Teaching and Learning and Director of Undegraduate Studies. From 2019, I was head of History.

Before taking up the post at Cardiff, I held posts at the Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine working with Roy Porter on the History of Bethlem and followed by a research fellowship at St Bartholomew's and the Royal London School of Medicine and dentistry researching the history of medical education and contributing to the work of the Centre for Medical and Dental Education. I have also worked previously at the University of East Anglia.

I undertook my doctoral work at University College London and held a fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research.

Honours and awards

Current awards

  • Co-Investigator, Wales Innovation Network small grant for Welsh Energy Humanities to develop collaborations across Wales [with Gavin Williams, Cardiff]

Previous awards since 2014

  • ·     Co-Investigator, Wellcome Trust follow-on funding - for a research project examining how a post-pandemic future was imagined during Covid [with Martin Willis, Cardiff]

    ·     Co-Investigator, Welsh Government Supporting Collaborative Research and Innovation in Europe - to develop collaborations with Duke University [with Martin Willis, Cardiff]

    ·     Co-Investigator, Wellcome Trust Small Grant in the Humanities and Social Sciences - for a series of workshops and engagement events exploring the intersections of medicine and the environment [with Newcastle, Bristol, and Liverpool]

    ·      Co-Investigator, Wellcome Trust Small Grant in the Humanities and Social Sciences - for a research project on medicine and the future [with Martin Willis and James Castell, Cardiff]

    ·     Co-Investigator, ESRC Impact Initiator Funding - to undertake initial research examining the methodologies, and practices of humanities and sciences collaborative projects with a view to influencing future directions and policies [with Martin Willis and Des Fitzgerald, Cardiff]

    ·     Co-Investigator,  AHRC, ‘Bridging the Gap’ - for a GW4 consortium network with Bath, Bristol, and Exeter universities on co-production of research

    ·     Co-Investigator, ISSF Wellcome Trust, Medical Humanities Collaborative Award - to lead on developing medical and science humanities research projects across Cardiff University in original collaborative forms [with Julie Brown, Medical Education, Cardiff]

    ·     Principal Investigator, Wellcome Trust medical humanities small grant - to undertake research on rural public Health in Victorian and Edwardian Wales

Professional memberships

Editorial Boards

  • Social History of Medicine
  • Intersections in Literature and Science, University of Wales Press

UK Research Councils

  • UKRI Interdisciplinary Assessment College

Advisory boards and committees

  • MedEnv (Wellcome Trust funded research network)


Committees and reviewing

UK Research councils

  • Current: UKRI Interdisciplinary assessment college
  • 2021: NERC advisory panel on decolonization
  • 2013: AHRC Peer Review College training panel
  • 2011: AHRC Science in Culture panel
  • 2010: Chair, AHRC Fellowship panels
  • 2006-14: AHRC Peer Review College (commendation for ‘outstanding contribution’ to the peer review college in 2013)


I supervise students on a range of topics on the social history of medicine and environmental history related to nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain as well as related fields in Victorian urban and social history.

Among my present supervisees, topics under investigation include:

  • Cholera and the role of port sanitary authorities in Victorian Wales
  • Patient experiences in the asylum, 1870-1930
  • Social and economic change in rural Monmouthshire


  • Environmental history
  • social history of medicine
  • 19th century
  • Urban HIstory
  • Climate History