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Professor Christopher Charles Bissell

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Professor in Telematics
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Computing & Communications
  • chris.bissell

Professional biography

Chris Bissell joined the Open University in 1980 and became Professor of Telematics in 1999. He was Sub-Dean (Courses) in the Faculty of Technology from 1989-91, and Head of Department of Telematics (subsequently ICT) from 1996 to 2005. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

He is a member of the Department’s Social and Educational Aspects of Technology Research Group, and was an Academic Advisor for two successful prime-time BBC series The Natural History of Britain, presented by Alan Titchmarsh, and Dan Cruickshank’s What the Industrial Revolution did for us.

He was also a member of the international Standing Selection Committee for the Canadian Networks of Centres of Excellence for five years up until 2014.

Research interests

Chris's major research interests are in the history of technology; mathematical modelling; and engineering education. As part of his ongoing historical research he translated a number of seminal publications in the history of telecommunications and control engineering. They can be found at

His recent publications include a chapter on the history of automatic control in the Springer Handbook of Automation and a chapter in the collection Perspectives on Information.

He edited, with his colleague Chris Dillon, a collection of writing on mathematical and other modelling in engineering and technology, entitled Ways of Thinking, Ways of Seeing,published by Springer in 2012.

He currently jointly supervises, with Professor June Barrow-Green, a PhD student (Tony Royle), who is investigating the history of mathematics in British aerodynamics during the early years of the 20th Century.

Teaching interests

Chris was a member of the teams presenting the recently discontinued Level 3 modules T324 Keeping Ahead in ICT, T325 Technologies for Digital Media. He is currently a member of the presentation team of TM353 IT Systems: Planning for Success and the production teams of TM355 Digital Communications and TM111Introduction to computing and information technology 1.

He is regularly involved in the assessment of the quality of higher education at other institutions, both in the UK and abroad – most recently at the Arab Open University and the Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg in Germany.


Getting technical (2017-04)
Bissell, Chris
The Linguist, 56(2) (pp. 20-21)
The anglocentric tendency in the history of information engineering (2017-04)
Bissell, Christopher
Translation Journal, 20(2)
The Information Turn in Modelling People and Society: early German Work (2017)
Bissell, Christopher
IEEE Technology and Society ((In press))
The Celtic Languages in the Age of Globalisation: Problems and Possibilities [In Russian] (2015)
Bissell, Christopher
An exhibition that has yet to be (2013-10)
Schmidt, Günther and Bissell, Christopher C.
IEEE Control Systems Magazine, 33(5) (pp. 67-71)
Editorial: Living in a time of change (2013-01)
Ramage, Magnus; Bissell, Christopher and Chapman, David
Kybernetes, 42(1) (pp. 5-12)
In Memoriam Winfried Oppelt (2012-06)
Bissell, Christopher
at - Automatisierungstechnik, 60(6) (pp. 325-329)
Digital technologies: help or hindrance for the humanities? (2012-02)
Barker, Elton; Bissell, Christopher; Hardwick, Lorna; Jones, Allan; Ridge, Mia and Wolffe, John
Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 11(1-2) (pp. 185-200)
Hermann Schmidt and German 'proto-cybernetics' (2011-02)
Bissell, Christopher Charles
Information, Communication & Society, 14(1) (pp. 156-171)
The social construction of educational technology through the use of authentic software tools (2011)
Jones, Allan and Bissell, Christopher
Research in Learning Technology, 19(3) (pp. 285-297)
The PLC: a logical development (2010-11)
Walker, Mark; Bissell, Christopher and Monk, John
Measurement and Control, 43(9) (pp. 280-284)
Control in the technical societies: a brief history (2010-09)
Bissell, Christopher
Measurement and Control, 43(7) (pp. 217-221)
Not just Norbert (2010)
Bissell, Chris
Kybernetes, 39(4) (pp. 496-509)
Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kotelnikov: Pioneer of the sampling theorem, cryptography, optimal detection, planetary mapping (2009-10)
Bissell, Christopher
IEEE Communications Magazine, 47(10) (pp. 24-32)
The development of automatic control in France (2009)
Remaud, P. and Bissell, C.
IEEE Control Systems Magazine, 29(2) (pp. 108-114)
An interview with Hans Sartorius (2007-12)
Bissell, C.
IEEE Control Systems Magazine, 27(6) (pp. 110-112)
The sampling theorem (2007-06)
Bissell, Chris
IET Communications Engineer, 5(3) (p 39)
Historical perspectives - The Moniac A Hydromechanical Analog Computer of the 1950s (2007-02)
Bissell, C. C.
IEEE Control Systems Magazine, 27(1) (pp. 59-64)
Karl Küpfmüller, 1928: an early time-domain, closed-loop, stability criterion (2006-06)
Bissell, C.C.
IEEE Control Systems Magazine, 26(3) (pp. 115-116, 126)
An overview of ICT-based assessment for engineering education (2004-06)
Heap, Nick W.; Kear, Karen L. and Bissell, Chris C.
European Journal of Engineering Education, 29(2) (pp. 241-250)
Models and Black Boxes: mathematics as an enabling technology in the history of communications and control engineering (2004)
Bissell, Chris
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences, 57(2) (pp. 307-340)
Theory, Politics... and History? Early post-war Soviet Control Engineering (2004)
Bissell, C C
Measurement + Control, 37(10) (pp. 312-315)
Mathematical 'meta-tools' in 20th Century information engineering (2004)
Bissell, C.C.
Hevelius, 2 (pp. 11-21)
Still a gendered technology?: Issues in teaching ICT at the UK Open University (2003-03)
Bissell, Christopher; Chapman, David; Herman, Clem and Robinson, Lee
European Journal of Engineering Education, 28(1) (pp. 27-35)
Histoires, héritages, et herméneutique : la vie quotidienne des mathématiques de l'ingénieur (2003)
Bissell, C.C.
Annales des Ponts et Chausseés(107-8) (pp. 4-9)
Supporting student projects at a distance through ICT: the UK Open University approach (2002-03-01)
Bissell, Chris
European Journal of Engineering Education, 27(1) (pp. 5-12)
The 'First All-Union Conference on Automatic Control', Moscow, December 1940 (2002-02)
Bissell, C.C.
IEEE Control Systems Magazine, 22(1) (pp. 15-21)
The role of A. A. Andronov in the development of automatic control in Russia (2001-06)
Bissell, C. C.
Automation and Remote Control, 62(6) (pp. 863-874)
Karl Küpfmüller (2016)
Bissell, Christopher
In: Maloberti, Franco and Davies, Anthony C eds. A Short History of Circuits and Systems (pp. 267-268)
ISBN : 9788793379718 | Publisher : IEEE
Ernst Adolf Guillemin (2016)
Bissell, Christopher
In: Malaberti, Franco and Davies, Anthony C eds. A Short History of Circuits and Systems (pp. 269-70)
ISBN : 9788793379718 | Publisher : IEEE
Electronics and Information Engineering: a new approach to modelling 1890 - 1950 (2015)
Bissell, Christopher
In: Pisano, Raffaele ed. A Bridge between Conceptual Frameworks: Sciences, Society and Technology Studies. History of Mechanism and Machine Science (27) (pp. 1-14)
ISBN : 978-94-017-9644-6 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Dordrecht
Foreword (2013-09)
Bissell, Chris
In: Pisano, Raffaele; Capecchi, Danilo and Lukešová, Anna eds. Physics, Astronomy and Engineering. Critical Problems in the History of Science. Proceedings of the 32th International Congress of the Italian Society of Historians of Physics and Astronomy (i-vi)
ISBN : 9786099551302 | Publisher : Scientia Socialis Press | Published : Šiauliai
Metatools for information engineering design (2012)
Bissell, Chris
In: Bissell, Chris and Dillon, Chris eds. Ways of Thinking, Ways of Seeing: Mathematical and Other Modelling in Engineering and Technology. Automation, Collaboration and e-Services (1) (pp. 71-94)
ISBN : 978-3-642-25208-2 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Berlin
The Open University of the United Kingdom (2011-10)
Bissell, Christopher
In: Bainbridge, W. S. ed. Leadership in Science and Technology: A Reference Handbook
ISBN : 9781412976886 | Publisher : Sage
'The information revolution': taking a long view (2011-04-11)
Bissell, Chris
In: Ramage, Magnus and Chapman, David eds. Perspectives on Information. Routledge Studies in Library and Information Science (pp. 21-35)
ISBN : 978-0-415-88410-5 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : New York, NY, U.S. and Abingdon, U.K.
A history of automatic control (2009)
Bissell, Christopher
In: Nof, Shimon Y. ed. Springer handbook of automation. Springer handbook series (LXXVI) (pp. 53-69)
ISBN : 9783540788300 | Publisher : Springer Verlag | Published : Heidelberg, Germany
Forging a new discipline: Reflections on the wartime infrastructure for research and development in feedback control in the US, UK, Germany and USSR (2008-12)
Bissell, Christopher
In: Maas, Ad and Hooijmaijers, Hans eds. Scientific Research in World War II. Routledge Studies in Modern History (pp. 202-212)
ISBN : 978-0-7103-1340-9 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : UK
Ways of Thinking, Ways of Seeing: Mathematical and Other Modelling in Engineering and Technology (2012)
Bissell, Chris and Dillon, Chris eds.
Automation, Collaboration and e-Services
ISBN : 978-3-642-25208-2 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Berlin
A new approach to the introductory teaching of Computing and IT at the Open University UK (2017-06)
Bissell, Christopher
In : 3rd International Conference on Higher Education Advances (HEAd'17) (21-23 June 2017, Valencia, Spain) (pp. 101-108)
Convergence of the history and sociology of technology from the mid 1980s (2017)
Bissell, Christopher
In : Interdisciplinary Futures: Open the Social Sciences 20 Years Later (19-20 January 2017, Lisbon, Portugal)
The Information Turn in Modelling People and Society: Early German Work (2016-02)
Bissell, Chris
In : ISSEI 2014 (4-8 August 2014, Porto, Portugal) (pp. 53-60)
The Celtic Languages in the Age of Globalisation (2016-02)
Bissell, Christopher
In : ISSEI 2014 (4-8 August 2014, Porto, Portugal) (pp. 719-728)
Compression, convergence and conviviality: the contribution of new technologies to developments in radio from the 1980s (2016)
Bissell, Christopher
In : ICOHTEC2016 (26-30 July 2016, Porto, Portugal)
Cyberneticists at war and peace: wrestling with ethical dilemmas of information (2015-06)
Ramage, Magnus and Bissell, Christopher
In : The Difference That Makes a Difference (DTMD 2015) (5 June 2015, Vienna University of Technology, Austria)
Interpreting the information age: can we avoid anglocentrism? (2014)
Bissell, Christopher
In : Interpreting the Information Age: New Avenues for Research and Display (3-5 November 2014, Science Museum, London)
The rôle of the history and philosophy of technology in secondary education (2013)
Bissell, Christopher
In : Fifth International Conference of the European Society for the History of Science (1-3 November 2012, Athens)
Control in the Cold War: the genesis and early years of the International Federation of Automatic Control (2013)
Bissell, Christopher
In : 24th International Congress of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (21-28 July 2013, Manchester, UK)
Open resources for case studies and assignments (2012-09-28)
Jones, Allan; Bissell, Christopher and Chapman, David
In : EADTU (European Association of Distance Teaching Universities) 25th Annual Conference 2012 ‘The role of open and flexible education in European higher education systems for 2020: new models, new markets, new media’ (27-28 September 2012, Paphos, Cyprus)
From Andronow to Zypkin: an outline of the history of non-linear dynamics in the USSR (2012)
Bissell, Christopher
In : NDES 2012 (11 – 13 July 2012, Wolfenbüttel, Germany)
The social construction of educational technology through the use of proprietary software (2010-05)
Bissell, Christopher
In : 7th International Conference on Networked Learning (3-4 May 2010, Aalborg, Denmark)
Control engineering and the professional societies (2009-08)
Bissell, Chris
In : IEEE 2009 Conference of the History of Technical Societies (5-7 August 2009, Philadelphia, PA)
Coping with a changing world: the UK Open University approach to teaching ICT (2008-01)
Bissell, C C and Williams, J P
In : International Technology, Education and Development Conference: INTED2008 (3-4 March 2008, Valencia, Spain)
“He was the father of us all.” Ernie Guillemin and the teaching of modern network theory (2008)
Bissell, Christopher C.
In : History of Telecommunications Conference (HISTELCON '08) (11-12 Sept 2008, Paris)
Meeting the growing demand for engineers and their educators: the potential for open and distance learning (2007-11)
Bissell, Chris and Endean, Mark
In : Meeting the growing demand for engineers and their educators 2010-2020 (9-11 Nov 2007, Munich, Germany)
Keeping ahead in ICT: A new approach to updating for final year undergraduates (2007-07)
Bissell, Christopher and Chapman, David
In : SEFI/IGIP Annual Conference (1-4 July 2007, Miskolc, Hungary)
Control engineering in WW2: reflections on the wartime infrastructure in the UK, USA, USSR, and Germany (2007)
Bissell, C.C.
In : Museum Boerhaave (25-26 January 2007, Utrecht, Netherlands)
The flow of scientific information between Russia and the West 1890 – 1960: the case of control theory (2006-05)
Bissell, C.C.
In : Annual Conference of the Canadian Science and Technology Historical Association (28-29 May 2006, Toronto, Canada)
Math? What math? How mid 20th century information engineers subverted mathematical formalism (2006)
Bissell, C. C.
In : Annual conference of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Mathematics (28-30 May 2006, Toronto, Canada)
Networked Living: a new approach to teaching introductory ICT (2006)
Bissell, Christopher and Kear, Karen
In : SEFI 34th Annual Conference: Engineering Education and Active Students (28 Jun - 1 Jul 2006, Uppsala, Sweden)
A great disappearing act: the electronic analogue computer (2004)
Bissell, C.C.
In : IEEE Conference on the History of Electronics (28-30 Jun 2004, Bletchley, UK)
ICT support at the British Open University for student projects at a distance (2001)
Bissell, C.C.
In : International Seminar on Information and Communication Technologies in Engineering Education (2-4 May 2001, Galway, Ireland)
A.A. Andronov and the development of control engineering in Russia (2001)
Bissell, C.C.
In : International Conference on Progress in non-linear Science dedicated to the 100th anniversary of A. A. Andronov (2-6 July 2001, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia)
Piobaireachd [Pibroch]: the classical music of the Great Highland Bagpipe (2017-04-24)
Bissell, Christopher
How the last man to see Sylvia Plath alive was punished for his quiet homosexuality (2017-02-21)
Bissell, Christopher and Boukli, Avi (Paraskevi)
The Conversation, London.
Classic Papers in Information & Communication Technology (2006)
Bissell, C.C

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