Dr Sean Lang

Senior Lecturer, History

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences

Department:Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: History

Courses taught: History

Sean specialises in the history of the British Empire. He is also a professional playwright and a regular broadcaster on radio and television.

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Sean studied history at Oxford, where he won the university prize for American history, and was Head of History at Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge before doing his PhD at Anglia Ruskin on maternal mortality in 19th-century British India. He retains his interest in the history of the British Empire, which he has introduced into the history programme at ARU, and also in the development of the history curriculum in schools. He lectures on British history from the Tudor period onwards and on European history from the French Revolution to the First World War.

As a regular contributor to BBC local radio, Sean provides a weekly history slot on Radio Cambridgeshire and often comments on political and history-related events on BBC Radio Essex and Look East. As well as his academic work, Sean has written school textbooks and four popular history titles in the ‘for Dummies’ series. He is a published playwright and has had a number of works performed in Cambridge, Oxford and on radio. Sean is also a former Honorary Secretary of the Historical Association and leads the Better History Forum, which advised in the development of the 2014 History National Curriculum. 

Research interests

  • The social and political history of British India 
  • The social history of British Imperialism
  • Children and schooling in the British Empire and Commonwealth
  • The social, political and military history of the First World War
  • The use and assessment of narrative in school history teaching

Areas of research supervision

  • Julianna Johnson: The English Catholic Community and International Relations in the Inter-War Period
  • Mary Miles: Female British agents in German captivity in the Second World War


  • PhD in History, Anglia Ruskin University
  • MA (Oxon) Modern History
  • BA (Hons) in Modern History Class I, University of Oxford

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Fellow, the Historical Association

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • Chairman, Better History Forum

Previously acted as consultant for:

  • International Baccalaureate Organisation
  • Council of Europe

Selected recent publications

Lang, S., 2009. Obstetrics and Obstruction: maternity provision in Madras, 1840-1852. In: Harrison, M., Jones, M. and Sweet, H. From Western Medicine to Global Medicine: the Hospital beyond the West. Orient Black Swan.

Lang, S., 2012. The Control of Birth: pupil midwives in nineteenth-century Madras. In: Johnson, R. and Khalid, A. Public Health in the British Empire: intermediaries, subordinates and the practice of public health, 1850-1960. London: Routledge.

Lang, S., 2012. Colonial Compassion and Political Calculation: the Countess of Dufferin and her fund. In: Bala, P. Contesting Colonial Authority: medicine and indigenous responses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century India. Lanham, MD: Lexington.

Lang, S., 2014. 'I have never known such undisguised arson': the Ladysmith Rag, the Mafeking Bonfire and the battle for order in late nineteenth-century Cambridge. International Journal of Local and Regional History, 9(2), pp.1-26.

Lang, S., 2014. Why the First World War Broke Out. Searching Finance Ltd.

Recent presentations and conferences

Lang, S., 2014.  La Guerre des Poètes et des Professeurs: La Première Guerre Mondiale dans les Ecoles et les Manuels Britanniques, 1920-2014. Paper presented at international conference La Grande Guerre des Manuels Scolaires, December 2014, Montpellier.

Media experience

  • BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
  • BBC Radio Essex
  • BBC Look East