Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications in the fields of:
- The British and Irish industrial city 1850-1930
- Urban poverty and welfare 1850-1930
- Public history in divided societies
- Child and family welfare


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Course Director, MA in Public History

HIS3140 Belfast: Surviving the Victorian City

Research Interests

Professor Olwen Purdue specialises in the social and economic history of nineteenth and twentieth-century Ireland. Her research focuses on poverty, welfare and public health in the industrial city - she is currently working on the history of child welfare under the Irish Poor Law, exploring how its systems and processes reponded to the challenges of the rapidly-growing city of Belfast, and how poor families engaged with and experienced these processes. She has also worked on the history of landed estates in the north of Ireland from the end of the Famine until the onset of the Northern Troubles

Professor Purdue is also actively engaged in research and teaching in Public History, something she has been instrumental in introducing to Queen's University. She is founder and Director of the Centre for Public History, and of the MA in Public History. She works closely with the cultural and heritage sectors across Northern Ireland and internationally in research, teaching and public engagement. She was specialist historical advisor for Titanic Belfast, a member of the advisory group for the Ulster Museum's Irish history exhibition and its Troubles and Beyond gallery and was historical advisor to Channel 4's 'Britain's Most Historic Towns' series.

Professor Purdue is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and was elected to the Society's Council in 2022. She was President of the Society for the Study of Nineteenth Century Ireland (2018-22) and is a Director of the Irish Museum Association. She also serves on the project board of a major redevelopment of the Ulster Museum's permanent galleries.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


Dive into the research topics where Olwen Purdue is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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