Professor Glen O'Hara

Professor of Modern and Contemporary History

Glen O'Hara teaches across a range of Oxford Brookes courses. These chiefly concern governance and national identity in modern Britain, both in its domestic and international aspects. His second year course on 'Modern Britain', and his third year courses on 'Anglo-American Relations' and 'Britain and the Sea' deal with the interaction between state and people, and between governments and the outside world, in the modern age.

Professor O'Hara was at Oxford University as an undergraduate and a postgraduate between 1993 and 1997, where he won the Gladstone Prize for History and Politics. After working as a journalist at The Independent, he moved back into academia at University College London, where he completed a PhD in 2002. In 2001 he was appointed Lecturer in Economic History at the University of Bristol, where he spent a year before moving to New College, Oxford, as Lecturer in Modern History. He moved to Oxford Brookes in January 2005. He also serves on the International Advisory Board of Reinvention: A Journal of Undergraduate Research, which aims to encourage students to pursue their own research interests by publishing articles based on original undergraduate work.



  • U67724, Politics, Society and Culture in Modern Britain
  • U67873, Anglo-American Relations in the Twentieth Century
  • U67778, Blue, White and Green Nation: Britain and the Sea since 1600


  • MA Module P67566, Britain and Europe, 1950-1997
    This optional MA module follows the UK's often-troubled relationship with the country's European neighbours, from Britain's first rejection of the Coal and Steel Community to ultimate accession to the European Economic Community, and then on to the country's semi-detached role in the 1990s.

PhD supervision

  • George Gosling, 'Co-Ordinating Diversity: The Mixed Economy of Healthcare in Bristol, 1918-48' (completed in September 2011).
  • Catherine Flinn, '"In Spite of Planning": Reconstructing Britain's Blitzed Cities, 1945-54'' (completed in December 2011).
  • Nicholas Saunders, 'The Suez Crisis and Britain's European Allies' (completed in May 2015).
  • Jenny Wright, 'Female Consultants in the National Health Service since 1947' (completed in May 2016).
  • Melanie Bashor, 'Engineering Tolerance: The Origins of Multicultural Education Policies in the Atlantic World, c.1941-c.1988' (completed in June 2016).
  • Cat Rushmore (as second supervisor to Dr Viviane Quirke), 'Chemicals and their Users in the British Home: From the 1930s to the 1960s' (completed in January 2017).
  • Emily Stacey (jointly supervised with Dr James Cooper), 'Preparing for Power: Margaret Thatcher's Foreign Visits as Leader of the Opposition' (completion expected in 2019/20).


Professor O'Hara is primarily interested in British central governments' economic and social policies, focusing especially on the period since the First World War, and has written and edited a number of books on this subject. In 2012 he published another full-length monograph on this theme, entitled Governing Post-War Britain: The Paradoxes of Progress (2012), while his next book, The Politics of Water in Post-War Britain, is due to be published in April 2017. He writes regularly on current affairs for a range of periodicals and blogs. Professor O'Hara can be followed on Twitter as @gsoh31, and he blogs in a personal capacity at 'Public Policy and the Past'.


Conferences organised since 2001

  • 'The Management of Scarce Resources: Space, Time, History', Oxford Brookes University, November 2016
  • 'Promoting Engagement with the Teaching of Economic History', Oxford Brookes University, March 2012.
  • 'Health Care and the People', Glasgow Caledonian University, January 2009.
  • 'Numbers, Norms and the People: Statistics and the Public Sphere in Modern Britain', Oxford Brookes University, September 2008.
  • Interdisciplinary conference on the Wilson governments of 1964-1970, New College, Oxford, June 2003.



  • Books
  • Journal articles
  • Book chapters
  • Conference papers
  • Other


Journal articles

  • (With Sue Brownill, Oxford Brookes University), 'From Planning to Opportunism? Re-Examining the Creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation', Planning Perspectives 30, 4 (2015), pp. 537-70 (winner of the 2015/16 International Planning History Society/ Planning Perspectives Paper Prize for the best Planning Perspectives article of 2014/15, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, July 2016).
  • 'Time, Exhortation and Planning in British Government, c.1959-c.1979', Journal of Modern European History 13, 3 (2015), pp. 338-54.
  • 'The British Labour Governments of the Nineteen-Sixties', Ricerche di Storia Politica 17, 2 (2014), pp. 155-64.
  • 'The Complexities of "Consumerism": Choice, Collectivism and Participation Within Britain's National Health Service, c.1961-c.1979', Social History of Medicine 26, 2 (2013), pp. 288-304. (This article is available, free to all, via PubMed Central).
  • 'Professor Kathleen Burk and the History of Diplomacy', Diplomacy and Statecraft 24, 1 (2013), pp. 1-20.
  • 'Parties, People and Parliament: Britain's "Ombudsman" and the Politics of the 1960s', Journal of British Studies 50, 3 (2011), pp. 690-714. (This article is available, free to all, via PubMed Central).
  • (With Lyndsay Grant, Bristol University), 'Spotlight On: The Spirit Level and Equality', Geography 95, 3 (2010), pp. 149-54.
  • 'The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, the Foreign Office and the Sachsenhausen Case', Historical Journal 53, 3 (2010), pp. 771-81.
  • 'New Histories of British Imperial Communications and the "Networked World" of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries', History Compass 8, 7 (2010), pp. 609-25.
  • 'How (Not) to Cut Government Spending and Reduce Public Sector Debt', History and Policy (December 2009).
  • '"This is What Growth Does": British Views of the European Economies in the Prosperous "Golden Age" of 1951-1973', Journal of Contemporary History 44, 4 (2009), pp. 697-717.
  • '"The Sea is Swinging into View": Modern British Maritime History in a Globalised World', English Historical Review CXXIV, 510 (2009), pp. 1109-34.
  • '"What the Electorate Can Be Expected to Swallow": Nationalisation, Transnationalism and the Shifting Boundaries of the State in Post-War Britain', Business History 51, 4 (2009), pp. 1-28.
  • '"Applied Socialism of a Fairly Moderate Kind": Scandinavia, British Policymakers and the Post-War Housing Market', Scandinavian Journal of History 33, 1 (2008), pp. 1-25.
  • 'Towards a New Bradshaw: Economic Statistics and the British State in the 1950s and 1960s', Economic History Review 60, 1 (2007), pp. 1-34.
  • 'Social Democratic Space: The Politics of Building in "Golden Age" Britain, c.1950-1973', Architectural Research Quarterly 10, 3/4 (2006), pp. 285-90.
  • '"Dynamic, Exciting, Thrilling Change": The Wilson Government's Economic Policy 1964-1970', Contemporary British History 20, 3 (2006), pp. 383-402.
  • 'Learning to Live With the Neighbours: The New Cambridge Economic History of Britain', English Historical Review CXXI, 490 (2006), pp. 183-89.
  • 'A Journey Without Maps: The Regional Policies of the British Labour Government of 1964-1970', Regional Studies 39, 9 (2005), pp. 1183-96.
  • '"We Are Faced Everywhere With a Growing Population": Demographic Change and the British State, 1955-64', Twentieth Century British History 15, 3 (2004), pp. 243-66.
  • '"Intractable, Obscure and Baffling": The Incomes Policy of the Conservative Government, 1957-64', Contemporary British History 18, 1 (2004), pp. 25-53.
  • '"Planned Growth of Incomes" or "Emergency Gimmick"? The Labour Party and Incomes Policy 1964-70', Labour History Review 69, 1 (2004), pp. 59-81.
  • 'The Limits of US Power: Transatlantic Financial Diplomacy under the Johnson and Wilson Administrations, October 1964-November 1968', Contemporary European History 12, 3 (2003), pp. 1-22.

Book chapters

  • 'The Intellectuals' Ideal: British Views of Scandinavia in the 1950s and 1960s', in J.E. Myhre (ed.), Intellectuals and the Public Sphere: Britain and Scandinavia since the Second World War (Oslo: Oslo University Press, 2008), pp. 91-122.
  • ‘Numbers, Experts and Ideas: The French Economic Model in Britain, c.1951-1973’, in T. Crook and G. O'Hara (eds.), Numbers, Norms and the People: Statistics and the Public Sphere in Britain, 1750-2000 (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 84-100.
  • ‘Attempts to “Modernise”: Nationalisation and the Nationalised Industries in Post-War Britain’, in F. Amatori, R. Millward and P. A. Toninelli (eds.), Re-Appraising State-Owned Enterprise: A Comparison (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 50-67.
  • ‘Anglo-Norwegian Trade and Commercial Relations, c.1950-c.1973’, in E. Lange and H. Pharo (eds.), Britain and Norway: Special Relationships (Oslo: Oslo University Press, 2012), pp. 249-72.
  • (With George Gosling, University of Liverpool), ‘Healthcare as Nation-Building in the Twentieth Century: The British National Health Service in International Perspective’, in P. Weindling (ed.), Health Care in Public and Private (London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 123-41.
  • ‘“Maximum Supervision”: Risk, Danger and Public Water in Post-War Britain’, in T. Crook and M. Esbester (eds.), Governing Risks: Danger, Safety and Accidents in Modern Britain, c.1800-2000 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), pp. 221-46.

Conference papers

Conference and seminar papers given since 2001

  • 'Domestic Water and the Politics of the Home in Post-War Britain', Institute of Historical Research Contemporary British History Seminar, January 2017.
  • 'UK Water Policy: Can Past Experience Help?', University of Birmingham Modern British Studies Conference on 'Breaking Boundaries: Politics, History and the Wider Inter-Disciplinary Challenge', Birmingham, June 2016.
  • 'Britain's Troubled Relationship with "Europe": Why did the UK join the EEC, and Why is it Thinking of Leaving the EU?', Museum of Oxford Public Lecture, June 2016.
  • 'The Fight Against Seaborne, Oil and Beach Pollution in Post-War Britain', Raphael Samuel History Centre/ University of Greenwich, London, May 2016.
  • '"Inadmissable and Cruel": Fear and Risk in Britain's Post-War Fluoride Debate', Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh/ University of Edinburgh Public Lecture, Edinburgh, March 2016.
  • 'Fear, Risk, Fluoridation and the Home in Post-War Britain', London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Centre for History in Public Health Seminar, London, February 2016.
  • 'Paying for the Periphery: The Costs of the Long British Coastline, c.1951-c.1979', University of Oslo Forum for Contemporary History Seminar on 'The Core and the Periphery in Economic Life', Oslo, Norway, December 2015.
  • 'The Corbyn Phenomenon', British Politics Society Norway Public Lecture, Litteraturhuset Literary Centre, Oslo, Norway, December 2015.
  • 'What is the Role of Business in Britain's Relations with the EU?', British Academy/ Mile End Insitute Conference on 'Britain and Europe: The Lessons from History', British Academy, London, November 2015.
  • 'Something in the Water: The Fluoridation Debate in Post-War Britain', Rethinking Modern British Studies Conference, University of Birmingham, July 2015.
  • 'The UK General Election: A Journey Into the Unknown?', Gyldendal Publishing Seminar on Modern British Studies, Oslo, Norway, April 2015.
  • 'British Views of the Soviet Economy, c.1950-c.1979', Queen's University Belfast/ Society for the Study of Labour History Conference on 'Socialism and the Cold War in Western Europe', Belfast, April 2015.
  • '"Foreign" Visions and Rising Expectations in Post-War British Governance', University of Exeter/ AHRC Imagining Markets Network Seminar, Exeter, April 2015.
  • 'The Labour Party, Public Water and the Politics of the Environment, 1945-1970', Bangor University/ Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research Conference on 'Shaping the Labour Party', Bangor, March 2015.
  • 'Positively Northern: The Idea of "Scandinavia" in British Economic and Social Policy, c.1951-c.1979', University of Oslo Seminar on 'Unpacking the Nordic Model', Oslo, Norway, October 2014.
  • 'Domestic Water and the Home in Mid-Twentieth Century Britain', Everyday Life: A One-Day Symposium, Trinity Hall, Cambridge, September 2014.
  • 'Socialism, Social Democracy and the British Labour Party in the 1960s', Italian-German Historical Institute and University of Bologna/ Gramsci Institute Conference on the Centre-Left, Bologna, October 2013.
  • '"Maximum Supervision": Risk, Danger and Public Water in Post-War Britain', Accidents and Emergencies: Risk, Welfare and Safety in Europe and North America, Oxford Brookes University, September 2013.
  • 'Numbers, Governance and Power', LSE Workshop on the Theory and Practice of Measurement: Perspectives From Economic History, London School of Economics, September 2013.
  • '"Crisis Time": Perceptions of Time and Conjunction in Post-War British Governance', Coping With Crisis: Crises in Economic and Social History, Durham University, Durham, July 2013.
  • 'Area-Based Regeneration Policies in the 1960s and 1970s: Can Governments Foster a Sense of "Community"?', Bangor University AHRC Workshop on Community Building, May 2013.
  • 'History, Newspapers and the Blogosphere', Institute of Historical Research Seminar on Public History, February 2013.
  • 'Innovation and the History of the City', Corporate Research Forum Conference on Creativity and Innovation, Athens, October 2012.
  • 'Rivals as well as Allies: Anglo-American Financial Diplomacy in the 1960s', New Perspectives on International History: A Conference in Honour of Professor Kathleen Burk, University College London, June 2012.
  • '"The Turn to the Sea": Historians and the Recent Recrudescence of Britain's "Blue Water" History', 'The Nation is the Navy' Conference, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, April 2012.
  • 'Discourses of Clean and Pure Water in Post-War Britain', University of Exeter/ Wellcome Trust Conference on 'The Stress of Life: Gender, Emotions and Health After the Second World War', April 2012.
  • 'The Media: Newspapers and Blogging', History and Policy 'History in the Headlines' One-Day Conference, November 2011.
  • 'How Rapid Do Public Sector "Cuts" Really Need to Be?', University of Bristol Student Union Public Lecture, November 2011.
  • '"Britishness", the Maritime World and the Sea since 1600', University of Greenwich Research Seminar, April 2011.
  • 'Planning Timeframes in British Government, 1961-1973', German Historical Institute Conference on 'Time, Futures and Politics in West Germany and Britain: From the 1960s to the 1980s', March 2011.
  • 'Insanity, Transnationalism, Bureaucracy: The Origins of Britain's "Ombudsman"', Glasgow Caledonian University Social Science Department Seminar, March 2011.
  • 'Contradictions and Unintended Consequences in British Public Policy during the Economic "Golden Age" of 1951-73', Keele University SPIRE Research Seminar, February 2011.
  • 'Politics, Patients' Rights and Medical Expertise in the Welfare State: the NHS and "Consumerism" in the 1950s and 1960s', Conference on 'Health Rights in Historical Perspective', London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, February 2011.
  • 'Paradoxes and Complexities in British Economic and Social Policy after the Second World War', Cambridge University Seminar on Modern Economic and Social History, Cambridge, January 2011.
  • 'Power at Sea: Groups, Individuals, and the Recent Historiography of the Maritime World', Workshop on 'The Organiser and the Victim: Power Relationships in the Colonial World', Keele University, January 2011.
  • 'Paradoxes of Progress in Post-War Britain: Crowding, Competition and Complexity in British Public Policy, c.1951-c.1973', University of the West of England Research Seminar, Bristol, November 2010.
  • 'Sir Alec Cairncross: Economics as Administrative Art', History of Political Economy Group Fall Conference, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, October 2010.
  • 'Green, White and Blue Nation: Britain, the Sea and National Identity Since 1600', National Maritime Museum Centre for Imperial and Maritime Studies Annual Public Lecture, Greenwich, September 2010.
  • 'Accounting for Political Discontent in Post-War Britain', Western Conference on British Studies Fall Conference, Austin, Texas, September 2010.
  • Discussant and panel member, The Thatcher Revolution: Essays on the History of Thatcherism, St John's College, Oxford, September 2010.
  • 'Economic Advice and the British Government in Sterling's "Crisis Decade", 1961-1969', History of Economics as History of Science Spring Workshop, ENS Cachan, Paris, June 2010.
  • 'Anglo-Norwegian Trading Relations and Commercial Diplomacy After the Second World War, c.1945-c.1973', Forum for Contemporary History/ Nobel Institute Symposium on 'Britain and Norway: Contacts, Networks and Influences', Oslo, Norway, March 2010.
  • 'Britain's Ombudsman: Harbinger of Social Democratic Change or "Business as Usual" in Whitehall?', Political Studies Association Labour Movements Workshop, Bristol, December 2009.
  • Discussant and panel member, 'Campaigning in Contemporary Society: Histories and Policies', Voluntary Action History Society Postgraduate Workshop, Birmingham, November 2009.
  • 'From Planning to Participation: Envisioning the NHS, c.1962-c.1974', Glasgow Caledonian Centre for the History of Medicine Seminar Series,Glasgow Caledonian Centre for the Social History of Health Seminar, Glasgow, November 2008.
  • 'Attempts to Reform and Modernise Britain's State-Owned Enterprises and Manufacturing Industries, 1951-1979', Fondazione Instituto per la Riconstruzione Industriale Conference on State-Owned Enterprise, Rome, May 2008.
  • 'Numbers, Experts and Ideas: International Organisations, International Surveys and Perceptions of the Outside World in Britain, c.1950-1970', Economic History Society Annual Conference, Exeter, March 2007.
  • 'Britain Loses Confidence in Itself: Turning Towards the Scandinavian Example in the 1950s and 1960s', University of Oslo Forum for Contemporary History Seminar, Oslo, Norway, November 2006.
  • 'Social Democratic Space: The Politics of Building in "Golden Age" Britain, c.1950-c.1973', Architectural Humanities Research Association International Conference on the Politics of Making, Oxford, November 2006.
  • 'The Intellectuals' Ideal: British Views of Scandinavia in the 1950s and 1960s', University of Oxford Modern European History Research Centre/ University of Oslo Forum for Contemporary History Workshop, Oxford, May 2006.
  • 'Beyond Condemnation and Praise: Limits and Possibilities in British Economic Policy 1959-1970', Oxford University Seminar on Modern British History, Oxford, May 2003.
  • '"A Real Horror": Rising Pressure on the Welfare State, 1951-74', Institute of Contemporary British History Summer Conference on Post-Imperial Britain, London, July 2002.


Reference articles

  • 'The Anglo-American Loan Agreement of 1945', MSN Encarta Online Encyclopedia (2009).