Andrew Hann

Andrew completed his thesis on agrarian capitalism in England at the University of Oxford. He then became a team leader at the Victoria County History and is currently Senior Properties Historian for English Heritage.

"I studied for my doctorate at the University of Oxford. My thesis focused on the emergence of agrarian capitalism in England during the early eighteenth century, using the Ditchley estate in Oxfordshire as a case study.

"I now work for English Heritage as a Senior Properties Historian. I’m part of a small team responsible for providing research to support the interpretation of properties. This involves writing reports, commissioning research from external experts, writing text for exhibitions and audio guides, and writing or assisting with the writing of guidebooks.

"After submitting my doctorate I secured a post as research assistant on a two year project at the University of Exeter before my viva. Having spent four and a half years working alone on a specific research question, it was refreshing to be working as part of a team, and within a far more structured timetable. Unfortunately following my viva I discovered that my thesis required revision, but I deferred this work until I had completed my contract in Exeter. I then returned to Oxford for a year to complete the corrections. Following this, I initially found it difficult to find a full-time job, and survived for a further year in Oxford on casual teaching and short-term research commissions.

"In 2000 I secured a one year research post at the University of Leicester. This was followed by a two and a half year research position at Coventry University gained through contacts I had built up whilst in Leicester. However, at this point I decided to move away from an academic research career. I had applied for quite a few lecturing posts without much success and I realised that I did not want to work as a research assistant for the rest of my career. So I applied for, and got, a job at the Victoria County History as a team leader on a new initiative which aimed to bring the research of the VCH to a wider audience. This project bridged the gap between academia and community history and seemed like an ideal career move as it opened up new avenues without closing off existing ones.

"At the Victoria County History I was responsible for co-ordinating a team of volunteers whom I had to recruit and train. I was based in an academic department at the University of Greenwich, but managed to build up wider contacts with record offices, local councils, schools, community groups and bodies such as English Heritage. With the end of the contract approaching in 2007 I was prepared to explore other avenues within the heritage field as well as academic positions, and my experience of writing for a general audience and working with volunteers and community groups stood me in good stead when I applied for the post at English Heritage.

"I have drawn on my experience as a doctoral student in virtually all the jobs I have had since leaving university. The research and writing skills I learned as a doctoral student have proved invaluable, as has the ability to give clear presentations. Teaching experience I picked up whilst doing my doctorate has also proved useful when working with both students and volunteers. Underlying all of the career moves that I have made has been an interest in the interaction of people and places in the past. This I owe to the interest that was first generated in the Ditchley estate during my thesis research."