Huw Bowen was educated at University College of Wales, Aberystwyth before being appointed as Sir James Knott Research Fellow at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1985. He worked as a teacher between 1988 and 1992 and then moved to the University of Leicester where, having been Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Economic and Social History, he was awarded a personal chair in 2006. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1994 and is currently Honorary Visiting Fellow at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. He joined the History Department (now History and Classics) at Swansea as Professor of Modern History in 2007. In 2008 he was elected Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences and in 2011 he became a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales. He is founding editor of the research monograph series The Worlds of the East India Company published by Boydell & Brewer.
Huw Bowen is Convenor of History Research Wales.
In 2010-2011 he led the ESRC-funded research project 'History, heritage, and urban regeneration: the local and global worlds of Welsh copper'.