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Meet the Team

Exploring the Past: Co-ordinator

Dr Richard Marsden (Pathway Co-ordinator)

Dr Richard Marsden

I hold a PhD in Modern History from the University of Glasgow and a Masters degree in Medieval Studies from Cardiff University, so I like to think that I’ve got the last thousand years or so pretty well covered. In addition to my role running Exploring the Past, I am employed by for the university’s Centre for Lifelong Learning developing similar pathways to degrees in other subjects. I also teach on the History degree in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion itself. Until recently I worked as a Regional Manager for the Open University organising the delivery of Humanities modules across the South West of England. I also taught History and Heritage Studies at the OU in Wales. Before that I had a pretty varied academic career, having lectured in History at Cardiff Metropolitan University, been a researcher at the University of Glamorgan and a tutor at Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning. Prior to that I was an Academic Skills Advisor at Cardiff Met and also worked in that university’s Academic Registry, plus for several years I held the post of Senior Examiner in History at the OCR Examining Board.

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 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 at Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning 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 Gideon Brough.

I am from Cardiff and I love this brilliant city! I have had the good fortune to have undertaken postgraduate studies at the Sorbonne as well as at Cardiff University. I teach on medieval subjects: primarily medieval Wales, medieval France, the Hundred Years’ War and pretty much anything involving warfare, diplomacy and identity. I recently completed a doctoral thesis examining the diplomatic links between Wales and France throughout the Middle Ages. My other academic interests include Revolting Peasants, the Papacy, the Bretons and medieval England. I have taught adult learners of all levels here at Cardiff, at the Open University and at Université Paris XIII. I also served in the British Army for a number of years and very much enjoyed it!


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…

Victoria Leonard

I completed my BA and MA at Cardiff University and I am currently a doctoral student in the final stages of a PhD in early Christian apologetics. I have taught undergraduates in Ancient History, Archaeology, and Religious Studies at Cardiff University in the School of History, Archaeology, and Religion. 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-ReynoldsDr 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. More recently, I have worked as the Council of British Archaeology’s Community Archaeologist at Cadw, the historic environment service for the Welsh Government. My projects focused on community work at Tinkinswood and St Lythan’s chambered tombs in the Vale of Glamorgan, Neath Abbey, Cat Hole cave on the Gower, Gray Hill stone circle in Monmouthshire and various school outreach programmes. My year contract came to an end in April 2012, and in May I was appointed as Cadw’s new Public Engagement Manager where I work to inspire creative engagement with the historic and archaeological landscapes of Wales. In this role, and in my Honorary Research Fellow position at Cardiff University, as well as working as a member of the Guerilla Archaeology collective, my main research interests are in heritage studies, community archaeology, tangible and intangible heritage, digital cultures and public engagement. 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 at the Cardiff Centre for Lifelong Learning. 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 in the Centre for Lifelong Learning 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