Professor Glen O'Hara

Professor of Modern and Contemporary History

School of Education, Humanities and Languages

Glen O'Hara


Glen O'Hara teaches across a range of Oxford Brookes courses. These chiefly concern governance and national identity in modern Britain, both in its domestic and international aspects. His second year course on 'The Making of Modern Britain', and his third year course 'Britain and the Sea', deal with the interaction between state and people, and between governments and the outside world, in the modern age.

Professor O'Hara was at Oxford University as an undergraduate and a postgraduate between 1993 and 1997, where he won the Gladstone Prize for History and Politics. After working as a journalist at The Independent, he moved back into academia at  University College London, where he completed a PhD in 2002. In 2001 he was appointed Lecturer in Economic History at the  University of Bristol, where he spent a year before moving to New College, Oxford, as Lecturer in Modern History. He moved to Oxford Brookes in January 2005. 

You can watch his May 2018 Inaugural Lecture as a Professor.

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught


  • The Making of Modern Britain: Politics, Society and Culture, 1815-1997 [Year 2]
    • Examines how industrialisation, immigration, war, political conflict, the growth of cities and the rise and decline of heavy industry helped to forge modern Britain.
  • Britain and the Sea since 1600 [Year 3]
    • What does it mean to be an ‘island nation’, and how has Britain’s relationship with the sea affected warfare, immigration, the economy, the environment, travel and tourism?


  • Britain and the European Communities, 1945-2016
    • What were the main reasons for Britain’s troubled relationship with what became the European Union, and what were the issues that both marred Britain’s short membership and caused its eventual exit?


  • George Gosling, 'Co-Ordinating Diversity: The Mixed Economy of Healthcare in Bristol, 1918-48' (completed in September 2011).
  • Catherine Flinn, '"In Spite of Planning": Reconstructing Britain's Blitzed Cities, 1945-54' (completed in December 2011).
  • Nicholas Saunders, 'The Suez Crisis and Britain's European Allies' (completed in May 2015).
  • Jenny Wright, 'Female Consultants in the National Health Service since 1947' (completed in May 2016).
  • Melanie Bashor, 'Engineering Tolerance: The Origins of Multicultural Education Policies in the Atlantic World, c.1941-c.1988' (completed in June 2016).
  • Cat Rushmore (as second supervisor to Dr Viviane Quirke), 'Chemicals and their Users in the British Home: From the 1930s to the 1960s' (completed in January 2017).
  • Emily Stacey (jointly supervised with Dr James Cooper), 'Preparing for Power: Margaret Thatcher's Foreign Visits as Leader of the Opposition' (completed in September 2021).
  • Mike Power, 'The Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Work-In of 1971-72' (in progress). 


Professor O'Hara is primarily interested in British central governments' economic and social policies, focusing especially on the period since the First World War, and has written and edited a number of books on this subject.

In 2012, he released a full-length monograph on British politics between the 1950s and the 1970s, entitled Governing Post-War Britain: The Paradoxes of Progress (2012), and he followed that up by publishing The Politics of Water in Post-War Britain in 2017. Professor O'Hara is now writing a history of the domestic policies of the Blair Governments between 1997 and 2007, while acting as Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded project 'In All Our Footsteps: Tracking, Mapping & Experiencing Rights of Way in Post-War Britain'.

He is also Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded programme 'Spaces of Hope: The Hidden Histories of Community-Led Planning in the UK'

He writes regularly in the media on current affairs and policy, for instance in The Guardian and The New European.


Projects as Principal Investigator, or Lead Academic if project is led by another Institution

  • In All Our Footsteps: Tracking, Mapping and Experiencing Rights of Way in Post-War Britai (01/04/2021 - 30/09/2024), funded by: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), funding amount received by Brookes: £449,492
  • Spaces of HOPE. The Hidden History of Community Led Planning in the UK (led by TDE) (01/01/2021 - 31/08/2023), funded by: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), funding amount received by Brookes: £13,269


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Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

Member, Economic History Society

Fellow, Royal Historical Society


Conferences organised since 2001

  • 'The Management of Scarce Resources: Space, Time, History', Oxford Brookes University, November 2016
  • 'Promoting Engagement with the Teaching of Economic History', Oxford Brookes University, March 2012.
  • 'Health Care and the People', Glasgow Caledonian University, January 2009.
  • 'Numbers, Norms and the People: Statistics and the Public Sphere in Modern Britain', Oxford Brookes University, September 2008.
  • Interdisciplinary conference on the Wilson governments of 1964-1970, New College, Oxford, June 2003.

Conference papers (selected since 2001)

  • ‘The Intellectuals’ Ideal: British Views of Scandinavia in the 1950s and 1960s’, University of Oxford Modern European History Research Centre/ University of Oslo Forum for Contemporary History Workshop, Oxford, May 2006.
  • ‘Numbers, Experts and Ideas: International Organisations, International Surveys and Perceptions of the Outside World in Britain, c.1950-1970', Economic History Society Annual Conference, Exeter, March 2007.
  • ‘Attempts to Reform and Modernise Britain's State-Owned Enterprises and Manufacturing Industries, 1951-1979', Fondazione Instituto per la Riconstruzione Industriale Conference on State-Owned Enterprise, Rome, May 2008.
  • ‘Economic Advice and the British Government in Sterling's “Crisis Decade”, 1961-1969', History of Economics as History of Science Spring Workshop, ENS Cachan, Paris, June 2010.
  • ‘Accounting for Political Discontent in Post-War Britain’, Western Conference on British Studies Fall Conference, Austin, Texas, September 2010.
  • ‘Green, White and Blue Nation: Britain, the Sea and National Identity since 1600’, National Maritime Museum Centre for Imperial and Maritime Studies Annual Public Lecture, Greenwich, September 2010.
  • ‘Sir Alec Cairncross: Economics as Administrative Art’, History of Political Economy Group Fall Conference, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, October 2010.
  • ‘Paradoxes and Complexities in British Economic and Social Policy after the Second World War’, Cambridge University Seminar on Modern Economic and Social History, Cambridge, January 2011.
  • ‘Planning Timeframes in British Government, 1961-1973’, German Historical Institute Conference on 'Time, Futures and Politics in West Germany and Britain: From the 1960s to the 1980s', London, March 2011.
  • ‘“The Turn to the Sea”: Historians and the Recent Recrudescence of Britain’s “Blue Water” History’, National Museum of the Royal Navy Conference on ‘The Navy is the Nation’, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth, April 2012.
  • ‘The 1976 IMF Crisis: Cuts, Austerity or Growth?’, HM Treasury/ History and Policy Briefing, HM Treasury, London, December 2012.
  • ‘Numbers, Power and Government in the “Golden Age” of Economic Growth’, The Theory and Practice of Measurement: Perspectives from Economic History and the History and Philosophy of Economics, London School of Economics, London, September 2013.
  • ‘Socialism, Social Democracy and the British Labour Party in the 1960s’, Italian-German Historical Institute/ University of Bologna/ Gramsci Institute Conference on the Centre-Left, Bologna, October 2013
  • ‘Positively Northern: The Idea of “Scandinavia” in British Economic and Social Policy, c.1951-c.1979’, University of Oslo Public Lecture, Oslo, October 2014.
  • ‘British Views of the Soviet Economy, c.1950-c.1979’, Queen’s University Belfast/ Society for the Study of Labour History Conference on ‘Socialism and the Cold War in Western Europe’, Belfast, April 2015.
  • 'What is the Role of Business in Britain’s Relationship with the EU?’, Mile End Institute/ British Academy One-Day Conference on ‘Britain and Europe: The Lessons from History’, British Academy, London, November 2015.
  • ‘“Inadmissable and Cruel”: Fear and Risk in Britain’s Post-War Fluoride Debate’, University of Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities/ The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, March 2016.
  • ‘Britain’s Troubled Relationship with “Europe”: Why Did the UK join the EEC, and Why is it Thinking of Leaving the EU?’, Museum of Oxford Public Lecture, Oxford, June 2016.
  • ‘Domestic Water and the Politics of the Home in Post-War Britain’, Institute of Historical Research Contemporary British History Seminar, London, January 2017.
  • ‘Is the Sea Still Swinging into View? Contemporary British History and the Maritime Turn’, International Security Studies Brady-Johnson Colloquium in Grand Strategy and International History, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, April 2017.
  • ‘Demons Unleashed? Why Did Brexit Happen, and What Does it Mean?’, Yale Public Lecture, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, April 2017.
  • ‘Britain Divided: Brexit and its Consequences’, Keynote lecture, University of Northampton Conference on 'Brexit in Context', Northampton, July 2017.
  • ‘“The Land with the Midas Touch”: British Perceptions of New Zealand Between the 1930s and the 1970s’, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine/ Wellcome Trust Symposium on 'Entwined Health System Histories', New Zealand High Commission, London, October 2017.
  • ‘Britain, the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, and the Battle Over Maritime Pollution in the 1960s and 1970s', Oxford University Transnational and Global History Seminar, Oxford, November 2017.
  • ‘Britain’s Post-War Fluoride Debate’, Academy of Medical Sciences/ Wellcome Trust Workshop on ‘Oral Health Inequalities, Oral Hygiene Cultures: Past, Present and Future’, University of Kent, Canterbury, June 2018.
  • ‘Politicians and Others: How Have the Reputations of Public Figures Changed over the Past Thirty Years?’, PRMoment Global Reputation Forum, Rhodes House, Oxford, July 2018.
  • ‘The Legal, Economic and Ethical Frameworks of Water Management in Post-War Britain’, World Economic History Congress, Boston, Massachusetts, August 2018.
  • ‘“Aesthetically Revolting”: Coastal Britain as a Modern Version of Pollution and Purity’, I.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian History Workshop on Perennial Problems: Histories of Health and Environment across Borders, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, September 2019.
  • ‘New Labour in Office: Neoliberal or Social Democratic?’, Edge Hill University Department of Law and Criminology Lecture in Politics, Lancashire, November 2019.
  • (With Clare Hickman, Newcastle University), ‘Delineating the Landscape: Planning, Mapping and the Historic Imaginings of Rights of Way in Twentieth Century England and Wales’, Malmö University Workshop on Movement Heritage: Histories of Path Dependence, Malmö, Sweden, April 2021.
  • ‘“Nature Does Not Make a Leap”: The British Government’s Very Long-Term Planning Committee in the 1960s’, University of Gothenburg Centre for European Research Conference on The Century of Sputnik and Chernobyl: Science and the European Left during the Twentieth Century, Gothenburg, Sweden, April 2021.
  • (With Clare Hickman, Newcastle University), 'Contesting Access to England's Land: Who Owns England's "Right to Roam"?', Transport, Traffic and Mobility T2M Annual Conference, 'Mobilities in Transition', Lisbon, Portugal, November 2021.
  • (With Clare Hickman and Abbi Flint, Newcastle University, and Tom Breen, Oxford Brookes University), ‘In All Our Footsteps: Tracking, Mapping and Experiencing Rights of Way in Post-War Britain’, Institute of Historical Research People, Place and Community Seminar, January 2022.
  • (With Tom Breen, Oxford Brookes University), ‘Contesting Access to England’s Land: Who Owns the “Right to Roam”?’, KTH Royal Institute of Technology Workshop on ‘(Un)Equal Footing’, Stockholm, Sweden, May 2022.
  • ‘Governance and Delivery: Historical Examples, Past Approaches’, HM Government Cabinet Office Research Seminar, London, June 2022.
  • (With Clare Hickman and Abbi Flint, Newcastle University, and Tom Breen, Oxford Brookes University), ‘In All Our Footsteps: Tracking, Mapping and Experiencing Rights of Way in Post-War Britain’, European Society for Environmental History Conference, University of Bristol, July 2022.
  • Discussant and panel member, ‘Political History and Political Controversy’, Political Quarterly/ Mile End Institute Conference on ‘Does British Political History Have a Future?’, Queen Mary, University of London, July 2022.
  • (With Clare Hickman, Newcastle University), ‘Greening and Movement: Tensions Around Land Use in England’s Rights of Way Policies’, Agricultural History Society Annual Conference, Stavanger, Norway, August 2022.
  • (With Clare Hickman and Abbi Flint, Newcastle University, and Tom Breen, Oxford Brookes University), ‘Rights of Way as Sites of Recovery and Connection’, Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference, ‘Geographies Beyond Recovery’, Newcastle University, September 2022.
  • ‘Writing the History of New Labour’ (as part of a panel with Eunice Goes, City, University of London and Eunice Goes, Richmond American University London), Oxford University Seminar on Modern British History, February 2023.
  • Keeping the Show on the Road: Harold Wilson, Labour and Britain’, Progressive Britain Public Roundtable (online) (as part of a panel with Lara Spirit, Times Red Box, and Nick Thomas-Symonds, Shadow International Trade Secretary), April 2023.
  • ‘The Janus Face of New Labour’s Social Policies’, Joint meeting, University of Cambridge Public and Popular History Seminar and Modern Social and Economic History and Policy Seminars, Cambridge, May 2023.