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Meet the Team

Exploring the Past: Co-ordinator

Dr Paul Webster (Pathway Co-ordinator)


Dr Paul Webster (Pathway Co-ordinator from March 2014)
I have a PhD in Medieval History from Cambridge University, and have been a member of the teaching team in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University since 2007, leading small study groups, lecturing, and running courses for students at all stages of their degrees. My research focuses on kingship, in particular the medieval kings of England, notably the notorious King John and the age of Magna Carta. I am particularly interested in the personal religion of these rulers, and their relationship with the church.

– Exploring the Past Co-ordinator.

Exploring the Past: Tutors

Dr Mansur Ali.

I have a PhD and MA in Middle Eastern Studies (Islamic) from Manchester University and a BTH in Islam from Al-Azhar University Cairo. I also am trained in the classical Islamic and Arabic sciences. I find myself in a unique position that straddles two worlds of scholarship.  In addition to this, I have experience in pastoral care as a former chaplain in a high security hospital as well as a visiting imam in a local mosque in Cardiff. Currently I am the Jameel lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cardiff University, School of History, Archaeology and Religion. I teach on the MA in ‘Islam in Contemporary Britain’, an undergraduate module on ‘Understanding Muslim Scriptures’ and a Live Local Learn Local module on ‘Introduction to Muhammad’. My research interests include Islamic theology, hadith and ethics.

Dr Melissa Julian-Jones.

melissaI hold a PhD in Medieval History and a Masters Degree in Medieval British Studies from Cardiff University, having completed my BA in History and English Literature at Oxford University. My research focuses on the networks and connections of Anglo-Norman families in the Welsh March c.1199-c.1300. In addition to my role as a teacher on the Exploring the Past: History course, I am the Medieval Researcher for the CAER Heritage Project (, and an Honorary Research Associate at the School of History, Archaeology and Religion [SHARE] here at Cardiff University, where I co-teach MA seminars. I am currently project managing SHARE’s bid to develop online resources for students wishing to research a history or heritage topic for their Individual Investigation as part of the Welsh Baccalaureate qualification.


Dr Rachel Bowen.

Originally from Llanelli, I studied history at Cardiff University and was awarded a PhD in 2006. My research interests cover the late medieval and early modern period. I am particularly interested in gender, sexuality and identity and my PhD research focused on interpretations of the body in medieval and early modern England. I previously taught topics such as nationality, disability, hermaphrodites and transvestites with Continuing & Professional Education and I recently also contributed an MA module on the early modern body and identity at Swansea University. I have worked in a variety of non-academic roles: in the civil service, as a music librarian, policy officer at a mental health charity and am currently Policy Manager at the Federation of Small Businesses Wales. In my spare time I enjoy cooking, running and endure watching the Llanelli Scarlets.



Dr Daniela Hofmann.

I may not be Cardiff-born, but I am definitely Cardiff-bred! I completed my BA, Ma and PhD in the School of History and Archaeology and have also taught undergraduates here over a number of years. My research interests are pre-historic archaeology, the architecture, art and burial customs of Neolithic central Europe, as well as archaeological theory more generally. After two years working as an Early Careers fellow at Oxford University, and another brief spell at Cardiff on a project about radiocarbon dating, I am now working as a junior lecturer at Hamburg University. And you thought explaining theory in English was bad…

Dr Victoria Leonard

I completed my BA and MA at Cardiff University and received my PhD in late antique religion and culture from the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff in 2014. I teach undergraduates in Ancient History and Archaeology at Cardiff University. My research interests include the transition of religion in the late antique world, specifically in the western Roman empire.


Dr Gethin Matthews

I studied for my PhD at Cardiff University, and spent a couple of years lecturing at Cardiff before starting on my current post at Swansea University. My principal research fields are the history of the Welsh in the Gold Rushes and the impact of the First World War on Wales, but I also have a strong interest in how history is presented to the general public on television. I spent over a decade working in the television business trying to get programmes made on historical topics, so I have first-hand experience of the obstacles and challenges.

matt-nicholasMatt Nicholas.

I am currently in the process of finishing my PhD at Cardiff University on the analysis of early Anglo-Saxon non-ferrous metals excavated from a group of cemeteries in Suffolk. I grew up in a town called Worksop in North Nottinghamshire. With sites like Creswell Crags and Roche Abbey on my doorstep becoming an archaeologist was an occupational hazard of childhood. I was lucky enough to get my first job excavating an Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Whitby Abbey before studying for a BSc in Archaeological Sciences at the University of Bradford (2000-4). After my undergraduate studies I worked in commercial archaeology for a few years (in locations from Suffolk to Sudan) before studying for an MSc in the Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Material at UCL (2007-8). I then proceeded to spend two years employed at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford (where I didn’t stab myself with a poisoned arrow and only broke one object). I grow a lot of beetroot on my allotment in Leckwith (behind Cardiff City stadium), but I don’t like it pickled.

Dr Ffion Reynolds

I hold an MA and PhD in Archaeology from Cardiff University, both of which focused on the prehistory of Britain and Ireland, and in particular Neolithic worldviews, funerary practices, material culture and art. My background is in community archaeology, and I co-directed an excavation at Tinkinswood chambered tomb in south Wales during 2011. Since then, I have worked as Cadw‘s Public Engagement Manager, and more recently, I am Cadw’s Heritage and Arts Manager, overseeing a range of interpretative projects, as well as heritage festivals like Open Doors, which offers the public a chance to visit Wales’s rich heritage for free during September. I hold an Honorary Research Fellow position at Cardiff University, as well as working as a member of the Guerilla Archaeology collective. My main research interests include the prehistory of Britain and Ireland, prehistoric worldviews, community archaeology, tangible and intangible heritage, and the study of the history of heritage. You can view my complete profile here


Dr Christina Hatzimichael Whitley

I am a specialist in Greek Bronze Age Archaeology and have previously taught in a number of higher education settings. I have delivered modules to undergraduates at both Cambridge University and at the School of History & Archaeology at Cardiff where I have also worked as a research associate. In addition, I have taught modules on Greek Archaeology to adult learners with Continuing & Professional Education. I specialise in Minoan Crete, and my interests and research lie in the administration in prehistoric societies, literacy, state formation and gender. I am co-director of the Praisos survey and excavation Project (Crete).

Dr Alun Williams.

I have recently completed a PhD in Ancient History at Cardiff University, focusing on the influence of contemporary political and colonial ideas on British historical writing about ancient Greece. Prior to that, I studied for a degree in History and Ancient History, followed by an MA in History (also at Cardiff), and in 2009 won a scholarship to study at the British School at Rome. My research interests include, but are not confided to, the following: European perceptions of antiquity from the eighteenth century to the present, the influence of Classical antiquity on debates about empire, and warfare and imperialism in the ancient world.

Dr Juliette Wood.JulietteWood

I studied folklore and Celtic literature at Aberystwyth, the University of Pennsylvania and Oxford. I now live in Wales and lecture at Cardiff University for the School of History, Archaeology & Religion & the School of Welsh. My areas of research include Celtic studies, the history of magic and the history & practice of folklore. I have also taught adult learners for many years with Continuing & Professional Education on many diverse topics including Gothic literature, witchcraft and shamanism. I have written several books on aspects of Welsh folklore and have been a professional consultant on matters folklore to TV and media production companies. My personal website is

Charlotte Pickard

Profile PicI have an MA and PhD in Medieval Studies from the Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Reading. My PhD thesis focuses on unequal marriage in France c. 1200, using historical and literary sources. I have previously taught at the University of Reading. I am also the founder of The Reading Medievalist a postgraduate and early-career journal. My research interests focus on the development of royal power, noblewomen, marriage and religious patronage in France: I am particularly interested in the way that charters and religious patronage can reveal marital relationships and female power. I take an interdisciplinary approach using a range of historical sources, including legal treatises, charters and chronicles alongside literary texts in order to gain an insight into the middle ages.