• Room 02.004 - 16 University Square

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications, with a British or Irish focus, in the fields of: - Oral history - Working class community (including deindustrialisation) - Gender history - Social history of Belfast since Partition

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Personal profile


Sean's teaching interests include working class family and community, oral history, gender history, consumerism, the social history of modern Britain and the social history of modern Belfast.

Research Statement

Sean's work on the history of the car was part of the shift in British social history away from the study of production towards the analysis of consumption and consumers. His more recent projects have continued this interest. These have analyzed the origins of men's consumer magazines, the social and business history of mail order catalogues, the history of working class experiences of consumer credit and debt, and the origins and history of `joyriding.' His research has been supported by grants from the ESRC, the Leverhulme Trust (twice), and the AHRC. Sean's most recently published monograph is The Politics of Consumer Credit in the UK, 1938-1992 (Oxford University Press, 2018). He is currently completing a monograph for Palgrave Pivot on the history of joyriding.  He has just completed a research project that was commissioned by the Department of Health (NI), examining the history of mother and baby homes and Magdalene laundries in Northern Ireland. This research (with co-investigator Leanne McCormick of UU) details the Northern Ireland experience of institutions that have provided so much concern and trauma in the Republic of Ireland. The report was submitted in August 2019. This research forms part of Sean's growing expertise in the social history of Northern Ireland.


Dr Sean O'Connell teaches on the following programmes / modules:



HIS3012Working Class communities in tthe UK 1900-1970
HIS2019The Making of Modern Britain
HIS2018The Making of Contemporary Britain
HIS2063Recording History 

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Sean O'Connell is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Working Class Arts & Humanities
Credit Arts & Humanities
Belfast Arts & Humanities
Oral History Arts & Humanities
History Arts & Humanities
Social Memory Arts & Humanities
Debt Arts & Humanities
Comparative History Arts & Humanities

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2011 2018

Research Output 1998 2018

The Politics of Consumer Credit in the UK, 1938-1992

Corthorn, P. & O'Connell, S., 13 Sep 2018, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 253 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

1 Citation (Scopus)
200 Downloads (Pure)
Open Access
Oral History
Social History

QUOTE: Queen's University Oral History Technology and Ethics

Deazley, R., Bryson, A. & O'Connell, S., 21 Mar 2017, Belfast : QUOTE.

Research output: Other contribution

Oral History

Gender, debt and working class credit in twentieth century Britain

O'Connell, S., 2015, Il genere nella ricerca storica. Atti del 6° Congresso della Società italiana. Chemotti, S. & La Rocca, M. C. (eds.). Padua: Il Poligrafo, Vol. Volume 1. p. 664-681 18 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Open Access
Working Class
Comparative History
Family Economy


Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence

Sean O'Connell (Recipient), Jun 1995

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

university teacher

Queen's Annual Fund Award

Sean O'Connell (Recipient), Feb 2013

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

history of schools

Activities 1996 2018

Oxford University Press (Publisher)

Sean O'Connell (Peer reviewer), Sean O'Connell (Peer reviewer)

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (Journal)

Sean O'Connell (Peer reviewer)
Dec 2018

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review


Why Public History conference

Olwen Purdue (Organiser), Tom Hulme (Organiser), Sean O'Connell (Organiser)
07 Dec 201708 Dec 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

Commemorating the everyday: Belfast's working class past

Sean O'Connell (Speaker)
14 Jun 2016

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic lecture/debate/seminar

Deindustrialisation and oral history

Sean O'Connell (Participant)
05 Oct 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference