Dr Leighton James

About Me

Dr. Leighton James is from Carmarthenshire and studied at the universities of Cardiff and Glamorgan. After completing his PhD he worked as a lecturer at the University of Swansea before taking up a post-doctoral post at the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York. He returned to Swansea University in September 2008 as a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow.

Current research
Dr. James has previously worked on the social and political history of the South Wales and Ruhr coalfields. His current research is primarily focused on the on the social and cultural history of warfare. He is working on books on the experience of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars in German Central Europe and the Seven Years War.


  1. Witnessing the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars in German Central Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  2. For the Fatherland? The Motivations of Austrian and Prussian Volunteers during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. In Krüger, C. & Levsen, S. (Ed.), War Volunteering in Modern Times: From the French Revolution to the Second World War. (pp. 40-58). Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  3. The politics of identity and civil society in Britain and Germany: Miners in the Ruhr and South Wales 1890-1926. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  4. War, Experience and Memory: An Austrian Cavalry Officer Narrates the Napoleonic Wars. In Forrest, A., Francois, E. & Hagemann, K. (Ed.), War Memories: The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars in Modern European Culture. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


  • HI-M39 Research Folder

    This module is designed to help students to identify a dissertation topic appropriate to their interests and expertise, and to tackle the problems of methodology, develop the research techniques, and undertake the project planning which are the necessary preliminaries to researching and writing a 20,000 word dissertation.

  • HIH121 Europe of Extremes: 1789 - 1989

    The nineteenth century saw the rise of a western European civilization, characterized, as Eric Hobsbawm has noted, by capitalist economics, liberal politics, and the dominance of a middle class that celebrated morality and science. In the twentieth century this civilization faced unprecedented challenges from new political ideologies, and from a working class demanding the right to govern in its own name. The result was an eruption of violence not seen on the continent for centuries; in its wake, the Cold War divided the Europe with an Iron Curtain, and saw the continent become the client of two world superpowers – the USA and the Soviet Union. This team-taught module relies on the specialist knowledge of its tutors to examine economic, political and social themes in the history of nineteenth and twentieth-century Europe.

  • HIH122 Making History

    History is an imprecise art and what historians say and write about the past is not the same as what actually happened in the past. Most people's knowledge about the past doesn't come from professional historians at all but rather from 'public history'. Public history is the collective understandings of the past that exist outside academic discipline of history. It is derived from a diverse range of sources including oral traditions, legends, literature, art, films and television. This module will introduce you to the study and presentation of the past. It will consider how the content, aims and methods of academic and public history compare and contrast and you will engage in your own small research project to investigate this. The module will also teach you about the fundamentals of studying and writing history at university. You will learn about essay writing, group work and critical analysis and employ these skills to understand and assess history today, both as an academic activity and as public knowledge.

  • HIH222 Revolutionary and Napoleonic Europe, 1789-1815

    Between 1792 and 1815 Europe was in a state of almost constant warfare. The French Revolutionary wars, the rise of Napoleon and the creation of a French Empire had a profound impact on the other European powers, great and small. This module explores the consequences of over two decades of warfare and French imperialism on Europe. It investigates the nature of the French Revolution and its impact upon European politics and society, the subsequent wars and the rise , character and fall of the Napoleonic Empire. In addition it will examine the reaction of the European states and peoples to French military success and dominance. Finally, it discusses the long-term legacies left by Napoleon and the wars.

  • HIH237 The Practice of History

    The purpose of the module is to encourage you to think more deeply about how historians work and, in particular, about how we as historians can locate and use primary historical sources effectively as a means of interpreting and understanding the past. During the module we will learn about the survival of historical evidence, how it is organised and made accessible to historians to undertake their research, and how to effectively locate and interpret it in your studies. We will consider how the process of doing historical research changes over time, in particular with the impact of recent developments like digitization. At the core of the module will be the work you undertake with others in your seminar group using a range of primary sources which your seminar tutor will introduce to you. As part of the module assessment you will also undertake your own primary source based research project using items from these collections. The module is designed strengthen your analytical skills and to help prepare you for the more extensive uses of primary evidence which you will encounter in final year special subjects and dissertation.

  • HIH3300 History Dissertation

    The History dissertation is a free-standing, 40-credit module that runs across both semesters of Level Three. Candidates conduct research upon a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of staff teaching for the degrees in History, and concerning a topic that falls within staff research and teaching interests.

  • HIH3330 Class, Community and Conflict: South Wales Industrial Society, 1800-2000

    Class, Community and Conflict explores the development and history of the South Wales coalfield between 1800 and 2000. During those two centuries South Wales was transformed by industrialization. Rapid population growth and urbanization created new communities to serve the demand for labour from the pits and metal works that sprung up across the region. The new society that emerged developed a vibrant and distinctive political and industrial culture centered on the community and the workplace. Reaching its height in the first decade of the twentieth century, this coalfield society was ravaged by the economic hardship of the interwar years and the de-industrialization of the later twentieth century. This module will explore the 'life-cycle' of South Wales, encompassing its industrial heyday to the decline of the later twentieth centuries. It examines the development of the politics and society of the coalfield by looking at such diverse topics as industrialization, party politics, urbanization and leisure. The South Wales coalfield will also be compared with other European coalfields to tease out the similarities and differences between industrial communities in Europe. The course is taught in parallel to a similar course in Germany and students will have the option of visiting Bochum in Germany at the end of the course. The assessment: Assessed essay 2,500 (50%) Group presentation (50%).


  • Aspects of Deafness in Eighteenth-Century England. (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Professor David Turner
  • '''''A Study of the Identity, Family, and Background of Rosa Luxemburg (1871 - 1919)' (awarded 2016)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Jonathan Dunnage
  • '''''The Stalin generation of Communist Party leaders'''': explorations in psychobiography, with case studies of Ernst Thalmann, Harry Pollitt and Maurice Thorez.' (awarded 2015)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Jill Lewis