Matthew Heaslip

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I would welcome enquiries and applications from potential PhD students wishing to conduct research into the twentieth century Royal Navy.

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Personal profile


I joined the University of Portsmouth as a Lecturer in Naval History in 2018, having previously been working on my PhD at the University of Exeter's Centre for Maritime Historical Studies. As of 2020, I am also the Course Leader for Portsmouth's MA in Naval History.

My research focuses upon the twentieth century Royal Navy and its role within Britain's wider imperial system, during both peace and war. In particular, my first book explores the Royal Navy's China Station and Britain's East Asian Empire during the 1920s. It examines the reasons behind a number of the most violent clashes involving British service personnel during the interwar period and reveals how the Admiralty secretly sought to circumvent the Washington Treaty. Gunboats, Empire and the China Station ( I have also recently had a journal article entitled 'Britain's armed forces and amphibious operations in peace and war 1919-1939: A Gallipoli Curse?' published in the Journal of Strategic Studies.

Research Interests

My research focuses on the application of naval power in littoral environments, both in peace and war. In particular, I am interested in the use of the nineteenth and twentieth century Royal Navy in defending and maintaining the British Empire. Looking at how the Royal Navy exploited its global dominance through gunboat diplomacy, amphibious operations, and imperial policing. In doing so, I explore the importance of naval power in Britain's efforts to exert influence over other nations and groups of people on a day-to-day basis and consider its applicability to present-day global geopolitics.

I am on the editorial board of the Coastal Studies and Society and The Northern Marine/Le marin du nord journals and I am also a member of Portsmouth's Port Towns and Urban Cultures research group (

Teaching Responsibilities

I teach on the MA in Naval History course as part of which I am the module coordinator for the Wooden Walls and Rise & Fall modules. I supervise student dissertations at both BA and MA level, as well as PhD researchers.

Media Availability

I am happy to take calls and emails from media on my research, and am aware of the need to respond to journalists in a timely manner. Please contact me via:

Interested journalists can also contact the University's Media and Communications team for support and advice on all media engagement, including out of hours.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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