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Dr Tim Rees

BA MA Lond DPhil Oxon

Senior Lecturer


01392 724285

My academic background is interdisciplinary and includes a degree in History and Politics from Queen Mary College, University of London, an MA in European Area Studies from the University of London and a D.Phil in Modern History from the University of Oxford. I worked for Barclays Bank and as a freelance economic journalist (commenting on Spain and Portugal) before joining academia. Between 1987 and 1988 I held a Cañada Blanch Fellowship at the University of London. I was a lecturer in History at the University of York from 1988 to 1990. I had previously also held teaching assistantships in history and political science at a variety of institutions. I joined the University of Exeter in the History Department in 1990.

I have lived in, and been a frequent visitor to, Spain since 1983. Madrid, Badajoz and Salamanca have been my principle places of residence but I have travelled and worked in many other parts of the country. I am fluent in Castilian Spanish and have a reading/oral comprehension of Catalan. Teaching and research have also taken me to the United States of America, the Russian Federation, France, the Netherlands and the UK.

My earliest research interests were in rural history and, more specifically, in agrarian aspects of the breakdown of democracy and the outbreak of the civil war in Spain. After completing a doctoral thesis on rural society and political conflict in the south-west of Spain, I then published a number of articles on rural elites, social protest in the countryside and women's work on the land. I have continued to research and to teach in these areas, including on the wider relationship between rural socities and development in modern Europe, and in the history of population and food. In 2020 I joined a collaborative project on regional government and political breakdown in the months leading to the Civil War in Spain led by historians at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). 

I also have an interest in the history of politics and political movements, particularly of the dictatorial right and left. This led to a co-authored (with Professor Jean Grugel) book on the Franco regime. I have also writtien and co-edited a collection of essays (with Dr Moria Donald) on revolutions in Europe. Following the opening of new archives in the former-USSR, I have also researched and written extensively on the history of international communism in the inter-war period. My publications include articles on different aspects of the history of the Communist International (Comintern) and, more specifically, on the Spanish Communist Party (PCE).  I am currently completing a study of the PCE from its creation in 1920 to the end of the Spanish Civil War that focusses upon communist identity and culture as well as the politics of the party. 


Research interests

My research focusses upon a number of areas:

  • I have undertaken wide-ranging research on the history of Spanish communism in the era of the Communist International. Using archival sources from a number of countries, I am exploring the development of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) from its origins in 1920 to its collapse at the end of the Spanish Civil War. Aided by funding from the British Academy, this has led to a number of research papers and articles. This will lead to a research monograph entitled Red Spain: the Spanish Communist Party in the Comintern Era.
  • An associated research project (jointly undertaken with Dr Tom Beaumont of Bristol University) is exploring France (and particularly Paris) as a centre for intrnational communism in the 1920s and 1930s. Entitled The French Connection: France and International Communism, 1919-1940 this examines France as a place of exile and organisation for communists, the role of the French Communist Party as the centre of a network of communist activity outside the Soviet Union, and at the surveillance of communist exiles and organisers by the French state. Currently funded by a Leverhulme/British Academy grant, the project will result in a symposium (leading to an edited collection of papers) and a number of research articles. My particular interest within the project is in the role of France as a major  centre of exile, organisation and support for Spanish communists. We are hoping to develop this into a broader research project that examines international communism as a transnational movement organised around a series of regional networks that complemented and rivalled Moscow. As part of this research project, we are organising a  conference ‘The French Connection: International Communism and France between the Wars’ which will take place in 2014.
  • I have a long-standing interest in the history of rural society in Spain and in the agrarian origins of the Spanish Civil War, stemming back to my doctoral research. I continue to undertake research in this area and to publish in the field.
  • I also have have interests in the history of the First World War and particularly British visual culture and the war.

Research supervision

Most aspects of the history and politics of Spain from 1808 to the present day. I would be particularly interested in supervising research on Spanish agrarian history, topics related to the Second Republic, Civil War and Franco regime, and on the history of Communist movements in Spain.

Europe from 1750 to the present day, particularly agrarian history, the Communist International and international communism between the world wars. 

Research students

Mark Rothery: Transformation through Adaptation: the English Landed Gentry of Devon, Hertfordshire and Lincolnshire, c. 1870-1939 (awarded 2005)

Samuel Pierce (External supervisor, University of Florida at Gainsville): Political Catholicism during the Spanish Second Republic (awarded 2007)

Alex Cattell: The Transformation of Madrid 1959-1975 (awarded 2011)

Richard Batten, Devon and the First World War (awarded 2016)

Steve Lynam, The Politics of the Centre in the Spanish Province of Valencia, 1931-1936 (awarded 2019)

David Luquero (Co-supervised with Professor Mike O'Mahony, Bristol University), The Life and Work of Enrique de la Serna (in progress)

Other information

Exeter University Teaching Awards

  • Lecturer of the Year in History (2009/10)
  • Nominated as University Lecturer of the year (2009/10)
  • Best Lecturer in History 2012
  • University Best Lecturer 2012

External Associations

  • Member, American Historical Association
  • Member, Association of Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies (USA)
  • Member, Seminario de Historia Agraria (Spain)

Contribution to discipline


I am a co-editor of the book series, Contemporary Spanish Studies, published by Sussex Academic Press. We publish a wide variety of books, including monographs, textbooks and edited collections  on historical, political and social themes related to Spain in the modern period. Please contact me if you wish to discuss a book proposal or project. 

I have refereed articles and written book reviews for a wide variety of journals including English Historical Review, European History Quarterly, Contemporary European History, Historia Social, Historia Contemporanea, Rural History, Slavic Studies, Historical Studies, the Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, the Journal of Women's History, Urban History, and the Journal of Modern History.

I am a member of the Association of Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies (ASPHS) and the Asociacion de Historia Agraria. 

I have acted as a specialist expert to review grant proposals for the AHRC and the ESRC.


I have acted as an historical advisor to television documentaries on General Franco and the Franco regime, and to authors writing historical fiction on subjects including the Spanish Civil War and twentieth century dictatorships.

I have participated in on-line discussions and podcasts on historical topics, including contemporary Spanish politics. 


My teaching is closely linked to my research interests and currently includes individual undergraduate modules on the history of modern Spain and the Spanish Civil War, and team-taught comparative modules on revolutions and civil wars. I also contribute to wider University teaching through inter-discplinary modules on communist lives and on food and famine for the core programme in Liberal Arts.

I have extensive experience in the development and delivery of education and teaching in the History Department, College of Humanities and the wider University holding positions as Director of Learning and Teaching and Senior Tutor (History), Director of Taught Programmes (College of Humanities), and as a member of various University-level bodies and working parties. A key activity has been in curriculum development and programme design in history and across the College of Humanities, including in inter-disciplinary programmes in Flexible Combined Honours and Liberal Arts. I have also played roles in quality assurance, module and programme accreditation, and the development of codes of ethics in teaching and the use of learning analytics within the University.  I have also contributed recently to new developments in Learning Analytics and Research-led Teaching in the University. 

I have served as an external examiner at the Universities of Cardiff (undergraduate and postgraduate), Royal Holloway, University of London (undergraduate) and Essex University (postgraduate)

I have been nominated and recognised a number of times in the Exeter University Teaching Awards:

In 2009/10 I was Lecturer of the Year in the Department of History and nominated for University Lecturer of the Year.

In 2011/12 I was awarded Best Lecturer in the Univerisity.

Modules taught

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