• 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


Research output per year

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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 

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Research Output

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

Open Access
  • 1 Citation (Scopus)
    259 Downloads (Pure)

    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

  • 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
  • Prizes

    Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence

    O'Connell, Sean (Recipient), Jun 1995

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Queen's Annual Fund Award

    O'Connell, Sean (Recipient), Feb 2013

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Activities

    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


    Emyr Estyn Evans and the Cultural Identity of Northern Ireland 1929-1969

    Author: Ferguson, L., Jul 2020

    Supervisor: Coleman, M. (Supervisor) & O'Connell, S. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Masters ThesisMasters