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Dr Simon Sleight

Dr Simon Sleight

Senior Lecturer in Australian History

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 7393
Address Department of History and Menzies Centre for Australian Studies
King’s College London
 3.09 Chesham Building 
London WC2R 2LS


Simon Sleight joined the department as lecturer in 2011, having earlier held the position of Rydon Fellow with the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, also at King’s. Dr Sleight gained a first-class honours degree in History from the University of Warwick, where the intellectual inheritance of the great social historian E.P. Thompson was formative. He next studied at University College London – ‘that Godless institution in Gower Street’ – where he gained a Master’s in Modern History (with Distinction). His doctoral research on young people and urban space was conducted at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia’s largest academic institution, under the co-supervision of Professor Graeme Davison and Professor Christina Twomey. This work was facilitated by the financial assistance of a Northcote Scholarship. In 2010, Dr Sleight’s Monash PhD went on to win the Australian Historical Association’s biennial Serle Award for best doctoral thesis in Australian history submitted in 2008–09. Before this, Simon enjoyed all the benefits of a state education in his native Lincolnshire.

Research interests and PhD supervision
  • Australian history and the Australian community in Britain
  • The history of children and young people
  • Urban history (particularly 1850 to present) and the production of space
  • Social and cultural history; the history of experience
  • Interdisciplinary history, especially links between history and geography
  • The use of visual evidence in historical research

Dr Sleight’s research explores the processes of ‘making place’, the evolution of youth cultures and the Australian presence in Britain. He is particularly interested in understanding the lived experience of the past, and uses a wide range of source material to do so. His 2013 monograph Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870–1914 analyses the relationship between young people’s activities in the public domain and the shaping of the modern city. Ranging across topics including urban play and autonomy, the hidden economies of the streets, consumerism, courtship, gang culture, the politics of urban display, the regulation of behaviour and national identity, the book adopts an interdisciplinary approach to address related issues within urban history and cultural geography. His latest book, co-edited with Shirleene Robinson, is Children, Childhood and Youth in the British World

Dr Sleight welcomes enquires from prospective doctoral students interested in topics including:

  • Australian history
  • The history of children, childhood and young people, particularly in the West
  • Urban history, 1800 to present
  • The history of experience

Current supervisions include PhD students working on the following topics: Indigenous transnationals; Chinese youth in the 1960s; migration to Australia; generational relations in twentieth-century Britain; life-cycles of British administrators in India; Australian Aborigines in Britain.

For more details, please see his full research profile

Selected Publications
  • Simon Sleight and Melissa Bellanta, ‘The leary larrikin: street style in colonial Australia’, Cultural and Social History, Vol. 11, No. 2 (2014), pp. 263-83
  • Simon Sleight, Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870–1914 (Aldershot and Burlington: Ashgate, June 2013, 'Studies in Childhood' series)
  • Simon Sleight, ‘“Let children be children”: the place of child workers in museum exhibitions and the landscapes of the past’, in Kate Darian-Smith and Carla Pascoe (eds), Children, Childhood and Cultural Heritage (Oxford and New York: Routledge, 2012)

For a complete list of publications, please see Simon's full research profile.

Expertise and Engagement

Dr Sleight in the Founding Co-Director of the Children’s History Society, an organisation serving the needs of academic scholars and schoolchildren alike. Since 2013, he has also been involved through the K-Link Widening Participation programme with history students at Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College in Lewisham. 

Additionally, Dr Sleight co-convenes a seminar series on ‘Life-Cycles’ at the Institute of Historical Research in London and acts as an administrator for an online Australian studies research community, MCAS Australian Studies Network, which he established with King’s colleague Dr Ian Henderson in 2011.


Dr Sleight teaches a range of modules including:

4AAH0001: Sources on Australian History

4AAH0001: Approaches to the History of Children and Childhood

4AAH0001: Approaches to Urban History

5AAH0001: History & Memory I (also as module convenor)

5AAH0002: History & Memory II (also as module convenor)

5AAH1055: Electric Cities: The Experience of Modernity in London, Melbourne, New York and Paris, 1870-1929

5AAH2013: The History of Australia since 1788

6AAH4004: Crime & Punishment

7AAH5009: London Calling: Colonial and Postcolonial Encounters with the Metropole


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