School of History


Phil Slavin was born in St Petersburg, Russia and began my university career at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he pursued two concurrent degrees in History and Violin Performance. He received his PhD in Medieval History from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto (2008). Before joining Kent in 2013, Phil spent spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Economic Growth Center, at Yale University, studying the art of economics and GIS (2008-10) and three years as a Mellon Fellow and faculty lecturer at McGill University, Montreal (2010-3).

Rather than seeing himself as an historian in the ‘traditional’ sense, Phil views himself as a ‘scientist of the past’, trained to work across disciplines and collaborate with colleagues in sciences, to promote a unified knowledge and science of the past. In his research, Phil uses historical knowledge as a powerful tool to understand some of the most important issues and challenges that the human race and its wider bio-ecological environment face today.

Dr. Slavin's principle research interests and work are related to the history of natural environment, economy, health, and society of late-medieval British Isles. His first monograph Bread and Ale for the Brethren: The Provisioning of Norwich Cathedral Priory, c.1260-1536 (2012) offers a re-interpretation of the decline of feudal system in England, through the prism of food production and consumption by local landlords. His second monograph Communities of Famine: the Great Famine of the Early Fourteenth Century in the British Isles, forthcoming in 2018 (with Brepols), examines the Great European Famine of 1315-17 (arguably the single worst subsistence crisis in Europe in the last two millennia) as a case-study to answer the most pressing question ‘What creates famine?’ Here, I was able to show that famine is a highly eclectic phenomenon, caused by a complex combination of environmental, demographic and institutional factors. In addition, Phil authored (and in some cases co-authored) 32 articles on various topics related to environmental, economic and social history of late-medieval British Isles.

Phil is currently embarking upon a new research project, dealing with the history's most notorious killer: the Black Death. He is in particularly fascinated by the enigma of the sudden emergence of the plague in the 1340s and by its deadly recurrence in decades and centuries to come.

When outside a classroom or his office, Phil enjoys listening to and playing music (be it Classical, Jazz, Rock or Folk), tasting ales (the more obscure the better), cooking, and hiking (the further away from 'Civilization' the better).

Dr. Slavin welcomes enquiries from prospective research students interested in the environmental, economic and social history of late-medieval and early modern British Isles and other parts of the North Atlantic world.

Contact Information


Room N4.E4
Rutherford College
University of Kent

Office Hours Monday 10am - 12pm

back to top


Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Mahoney, P. et al. (2016). Deciduous enamel 3D microwear texture analysis as an indicator of childhood diet in medieval Canterbury, England. Journal of Archaeological Science [Online] 66:128-136. Available at:
Costen, M. et al. (2016). Review of periodical literature published in 2014. The Economic History Review [Online] 69:314-360. Available at:
Slavin, P. (2016). Communities of Famine: A Fourteenth-Century Environmental Shock in the British Isles. Brepols.
Showing 3 of 34 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]
back to top

School of History, Rutherford College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

T: +44 (0)1227 823710 or E:

Last Updated: 10/08/2017