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I joined the University of Dundee in August 2017, having previously worked as Research Associate in British/Scottish History at the University of Manchester.  Before that, I was a distance-learning tutor for the Open University and a teaching assistant at the University of Stirling, this latter institution being the one from where I gained my PhD in 2012.

My research focuses on the political and social history of early modern Scotland, particularly the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries.  My initial work was on the Highlands, and analysed the relationship between Highlanders and the Scottish state.  This produced many of my early publications, including my prize-winning first book, Governing Gaeldom: The Scottish Highlands and the Restoration State, 1660-1688 (Leiden, 2014).  Having become interested in the experience of the ‘other’ or ‘outsider’ more generally, later research directions led me to explore Scottish migration to early modern England, as well as the history of criminality in Scotland.  Currently, however, I am working on a political study of the reign of Charles II in Scotland, as part of which I am especially interested in analysing the ‘pre-history’ of the Anglo-Scottish Union and the extent to which the Restoration period influenced the eventual shape of the ‘Great Britain’.

I am also Consultant Editor of the popular magazine History Scotland.


My research focuses on the social and political history of early modern Scotland, with a particular focus on the later seventeenth century. My initial interests, informing my doctoral thesis, were in the linkages between Highland and Lowland Scotland during the reigns of Charles II and James VII, a problem I approached within the broader paradigms of centre/periphery interaction and ‘state formation’ in early modern Europe. My research, and resulting publications, has tended to downplay the distinctiveness of the Highland experience, attempting instead to demonstrate the deep linkages (political, social, economic, religious and cultural) between Highlanders and the Scottish state.

Although I retain a strong interest in Highland history, my research subsequently broadened out to incorporate the treatment of outsiders or ‘others’ in the early modern world. In particular, I have explored the experiences of Scots living in early modern England, assessing what this particular migratory movement can tell us about the emergence and nature of ‘Great Britain’ in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I have also looked into Scottish criminal justice, particularly in terms of asking how criminals were treated and what this can reveal about the ordering structures and assumptions of Scottish society.

Much of my work has focused on the period known as the ‘Restoration’ – the three decades between the return of Charles II to the British thrones in 1660, and the overthrown of his brother and successor, James VII & II, in 1688-9. Growing out of this focus, my current project is a political study of Charles II’s government in Scotland. Here, I am particularly interested in assessing the king’s personal influence over the development of Scottish policy, developing from this a deeper understanding of Scottish politics and political culture. I am also keen to assess the role of the Restoration period in the coming of parliamentary union in the eighteenth century – did Charles II’s era play a meaningful role in ‘preparing the ground’ for 1707, or was this a period of divergence, rather than convergence?

View full research profile and publications


I contribute to the following modules:


HY11001: Human Futures
HY11005: Rise of the Atlantic Empires, 1500-1750
HY22006: Scotland and the Wider World (module convenor)
HY31041: Life at the Margins: Sinners, Deviants and Outcasts in Early Modern Scotland, c.1550-c.1750 (module convenor)
HY41001: Research Dissertation
HY41056: Scotland: Restoration, Revolution and Union, 1660-1707 (module convenor)


HY51045: Public History
HY51046: Witchcraft and Witch-Hunting in Early Modern Scotland
HY52029: Documentary and History

Media availability

I am available for media commentary on my research.

Dr Kennedy’s research centres on Scottish History in the period from around 1550-c1750. Particular areas of expertise include politics and government (including the Union of 1707), crime and punishment, social marginality, Scotland and the wider world, and the Highlands.

Contact Corporate Communications for media enquiries.

Areas of expertise

  • Crime
  • History
  • Scotland

PhD Projects

Principal supervisor