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Professor David Edgerton

Professor David Edgerton

David EdgertonHans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and Professor of Modern British History

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 7662
Room S8.20, Strand Building
Department of History
King's College London
London, WC2R 2LS


David Edgerton graduated from St John’s College Oxford and Imperial College London. After teaching at the University of Manchester he became the founding director of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at Imperial College London (1993-2003) where he was also Hans Rausing Professor. He joined the History department with the Centre on its transfer to King’s in August 2013. He was a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellow, 2006-2009, and gave the 2009 Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Prize Lecture at the  Royal Society. 

Research interests and PhD supervision
  • History and historiography of twentieth-century Britain
  • Global histories of technology and production
  • The British state and British militarism
  • Material histories of modernity
  • Technocrats and experts in the modern world.

David Edgerton is known for challenging the welfarism and declinism of much of the older historiography of twentieth-century Britain and for developing the concepts of the British warfare state and liberal militarism. 

He is also known for a new approach to the histories of science and technology focussing on the asking of historical questions and avoiding the innovation and academic-centric accounts derived from the discourses of interested parties and which opens up the possibility of fresh material histories of modernity.  His The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900 (Profile, 2006) is available in French, Spanish, Korean, and Chinese translation. His The Rise and Fall of the British Nation: a twentieth-century history will be published by Allen Lane in June 2018.

He welcomes inquiries from prospective research students.

Selected publications
  • England and the Aeroplane: Militarism, Modernity and Machine  (Penguin, 2013) [First published, 1991]
  • Britain’s War Machine: Weapons, Resources and Experts in the Second World War  (Allen Lane/Penguin, 2011)
  • The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900  (Profile Books, 2007) [translated into Spanish, Chinese, French, Korean]
  • Warfare State: Britain 1920-1970  (Cambridge University Press, 2005) [Japanese translation forthcoming from Nagoya University Press]
  • Science, Technology and the British Industrial ‘Decline’ 1870-1970 (Cambridge University Press, 1996)
For a complete list of publications, please see David's full research profile.

David Edgerton teaches MA options Contemporary British History and in the History of Science and Technology and undergraduate courses in the history of technology and British History.

Expertise and Public Engagement

David Edgerton has appeared in many radio and TV programmes and regularly gives talks to many official and public bodies on a wide range of topics.  He has written and reviewed for the daily and weekly press.  He was a member of a Nuffield Bioethics Working Party on Emerging Biotechnologies. 

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