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Dr Simon Sleight

Dr Simon Sleight

  • Academics
  • Supervisors

Reader in Urban History, Historical Youth Cultures and Australian History

Deputy Director, Menzies Australia Institute.

Research subject areas

  • Child & Family
  • History

Contact details


Dr Simon Sleight is Reader in Urban History, Historical Youth Cultures and Australian History, Co-founding Director of the Children's History Society and Deputy Director of the Menzies Australia Institute at King’s. A native of Lincolnshire, Simon received his tertiary education at Warwick, University College London and Monash University in Melbourne, his doctoral thesis winning the Australian Historical Association’s Serle Award for best PhD in Australian history.

His latest books are History, Memory and Public Life: The Past in the Present (Routledge, 2018, co-edited with Anna Maerker and Adam Sutcliffe), Children, Childhood and Youth in the British World (Palgrave, 2016, co-edited with Shirleene Robinson) and Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870-1914 (Routledge, 2013). He has also published on urban memory, the morphology of cities, street gangs, processions, the representation of working childhoods, expatriate experience, and the use of historical cartoons. Dr Sleight’s current research project explores living history museums in transnational comparison. A co-edited project – A Cultural History of Youth in the Modern Age – is also in progress.

Research interests

  • The history of children and young people
  • Urban history (particularly 1850 to present) and the production of space
  • Social and cultural history, especially the history of experience, and historical memory
  • Interdisciplinary history, especially the links between history and geography

Dr Sleight’s work explores the history of urban place-making, 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. By way of example, 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. Reviews of this book can be found here.

PhD supervision

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

  • Australian history
  • The history of children, childhood and young people, particularly in the West
  • Urban history, 1850 to present
  • History and memory; public history

For more details, please see his full research profile


At undergraduate level, Dr Sleight teaches a range of modules on Australian history, comparative urban history, the history of crime, the history of youth, and history and memory. At postgraduate level, his teaching addresses advanced skills for historians and colonial and postcolonial encounters in London.

Dr Sleight is on sabbatical leave from September 2018 to April 2019. His modules are otherwise: 

  • 5AAH0001: History & Memory I (Semester 1)
  • 5AAH0002: History & Memory II (Semester 2)
  • 5AAH1055: Electric Cities: The Experience of Modernity in London, Melbourne, New York and Paris, 1870-1929 (Semester 1)
  • 5AAH3012: The History of Australia (Full year)
  • 6AAH3069/70: Young Lives: Growing Up in Liverpool, London, Melbourne and Sydney, 1870-1970 (Full year)
  • 6AAH4004: Crime & Punishment (Full year)
  • 7AAH0001: Advanced Skills for Historians (Semester 1)
  • 7AAH5009: London Calling: Colonial and Postcolonial Encounters with the Metropole (Semester 2) 

Expertise and Engagement

Dr Sleight is Co-founding Director of the Children’s History Society, an organisation for scholars who either study, or are themselves, young people. Since 2013, he has also been involved with the K-Link Widening Participation Programme, working with schools in Pimlico, Bethnal Green and Nunhead. Simon co-convenes a seminar series on ‘Life-Cycles’ at the Institute of Historical Research in London, and administers an online Australian studies research community. Media appearances include an interview on ABC Radio National’s By Design.

Dr Sleight sits on the editorial board of Anthem Press for the ‘Studies in Australian History’ series and is a series editor of Routledge Studies in the Histories of Children and Youth. He acts as assessor for the Northcote Graduate Scholarship scheme and Leverhulme Trust, and has also served on panels assessing the best theses and academic articles on the history of childhood and youth globally. Dr Sleight reviews submissions for academic journals including English Historical Review, Australian Historical Studies, Childhoods Today and History Australia. He welcomes media enquiries.