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Faculty of Divinity

20th century religious history
Psychology of religion
Apocalypticism and millenarianism


Dr Alastair Lockhart carries out research in 20th century religion and belief, with a special interest in new and non-mainstream religion, the psychology of religion, and apocalypticism and millenarianism.

Alastair is a Fellow and College Lecturer at Churchill College, where he is Senior Postgraduate Tutor, and Director of Studies for Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion at Hughes Hall. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Anthropological Institute.

He has been a Research Associate and an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity, and presently sits on the Faculty's Religious Studies Subject Committee.

His academic training includes:

BA (hons) Theology and Religious Studies, University of Cambridge;
MSc Computer Sciences, University of London;
MA Psychology of Religion, University of London;
PhD ‘Religion, Psychology, and Metaphysics in Interwar Britain’, University of Cambridge.


Alastair Lockhart's research interests fall into three main areas:

  • the formation of quotidian metaphysics and systems of meaning,
  • religious innovation and apocalypticism, especially after 1918, and
  • the relationship between religion and psychology across the 20th century to the present.

Alastair has worked on the interactions between psychological theory-making and religion in Victorian and early-20th century Britain, with a focus on the adoption and adaptation of psychotherapeutic approaches in the interwar period. And, he has worked extensively on the archives of the Panacea Society, an apocalyptic and millenarian religious group that was formed in England after World War I and continued until 2012. A monograph based on this research, Personal Religion and Spiritual Healing, was published by State University of New York Press in 2019.

His current focus is an historical study of secular and theological responses nuclear weapons, especially the atomic bombs of 1945, and critical and conceptual work in the cognitive science of religion.

See his personal website,, for more information.


Key publications: 


Lockhart, Alastair (2019) Personal Religion and Spiritual Healing: The Panacea Society in the Twentieth Century. State University of New York Press. Publisher’s website and excerpt (pdf).

Edited work

Crossley, James and Alastair Lockhart (eds.) (2021) Critical Dictionary of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements. Open access.

Articles and chapters

Lockhart, Alastair (2024) 'A Godless Apocalypse and the Atom Bombs: Ronald Knox and a New Concept of World Ending' in Jenny Stümer, Michael Dunn and David Eisler (eds.) Worlds Ending. Ending Worlds. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 37-55. Open access.

Lockhart, Alastair (2024) 'The HADDs and the HADD-nots: Mystical Experiences and Religion in Evolution'. Religion, Brain and Behavior 14(1): 81-85.

Williams, Ryan J., Fraser Watts, & Alastair Lockhart (2022) ‘Health Help-Seeking Behaviour in Spiritual Healing Practice: Records from the Panacea Society’s Healing Department, 1924–1997′ in Journal of Religion and Health 61: 2417–2432 (first published online June 2020).

Lockhart, Alastair (2020) ‘New Religious Movements and Quasi-religion: Cognitive Science of Religion at the Margins’ in Archive for the Psychology of Religion / Archiv für Religionspsychologie 42(1): 101-122. Open access.

Lockhart, Alastair (2020) ‘Demise and Persistence: Religion after the Loss of “Direct Divine Control” in the Panacea Society’ in Michael Stausberg, Stuart A. Wright and Carole M. Cusack (eds.) The Demise of Religion: How Religions End, Die, or Dissipate. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 83-96. Open access.

Lockhart, Alastair (2020) ‘Bishop William Temple and the Psychologists’ in Russell Re Manning (ed.) Mutual Enrichment between Psychology and Theology. Abingdon UK; New York NY: Routledge. pp. 35-46. Publisher’s website.

Lockhart, Alastair (2020) ‘Holy Places and Religious Language in New Religious Movements’ in New Blackfriars 101(1092): 163-181.

Lockhart, Alastair (2019) ‘A Bud from the Tree of Life: William McDougall’s Response to Freud’ in History and Philosophy of Psychology 20(1): 28-33. Journal website.

Lockhart, Alastair (2017) ‘A Southcottian Healing Panacea, 1924-2012’ in J. Shaw and P. Lockley (eds.) The History of a Modern Millennial Movement: The Southcottians. London: I.B. Tauris. pp. 186-202. Publisher’s website.

Lockhart, Alastair (2015) ‘Religious and Spiritual Mobility in Britain: The Panacea Society and Other Movements in the Twentieth Century’ in Contemporary British History 29(2): 155-178. Open access.

Lockhart, Alastair (2013) ‘Heterodox Healing and Alternative Religion in the 20th Century: An English Spiritual Healing Practice in Finland’ in Suomen kirkkohistoriallisen seuran vuosikirja 2013. Helsinki: Suomen Kirkkohistoriallinen Seura/Societas Historiae Ecclesiasticae Fennica. pp. 74-97. Journal website.

Lockhart, Alastair (2012) ‘The “Para-Freudians”: A Project for a Spiritualized Psychoanalysis in Early Twentieth Century Britain’ in D. Henderson (ed.) Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society. Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 2-19. Publisher’s website.

Lockhart, Alastair (2010) ‘”The “Parson’s Clinic”: Religion and Psychology at the Interwar Tavistock Clinic’ in History and Philosophy of Psychology 12(2): 11-23. Journal website.

Other publications: 

Lockhart, Alastair (2023) ‘"The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats.' In James Crossley and Alastair Lockhart (eds.) Critical Dictionary of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements. 19 March 2023. Retrieved from

Lockhart, Alastair (2021) ‘Panacea Society’ in James Crossley and Alastair Lockhart (eds.) Critical Dictionary of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements. 15 January 2021.

Lockhart, Alastair (2021) ‘Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements (CenSAMM)’ in James Crossley and Alastair Lockhart (eds.) Critical Dictionary of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements. 21 January 2021.

Lockhart, Alastair (2017) Review of Bruce K. Alexander and Curtis P. Shelton A History of Psychology in Western Civilization in History and Philosophy of Psychology 18(1): 49-51. Journal website.

Teaching and Supervisions


Dr Lockhart supervises undergraduates for A6 Understanding Contemporary Religion and dissertations in the areas of his research interests.

Other Professional Activities

Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King's College London.

Director of Studies, Hughes Hall
Senior Postgraduate Tutor, Churchill College
Alastair Lockhart individual photograph for Faculty of Divinity University of Cambridge
Available for consultancy