Current Affairs: Britain and the Wider World

Ref: C2418196

This is a chance to go beyond the headlines, getting to grips with some major global issues. The course will explore political ideas as well as political reality, identify common trends and help you to develop your own views.

Course aim

To help participants to explore and understand contemporary global issues, to identify common trends and to weigh up contrasting approaches to politics.

Who is the course for?

What topics will this course cover

The course will look at range of contemporary issues, identifying common themes and exploring different ways of understanding politics. The aim is to relate the issues to everyday life, not to have purely theoretical discussions. The issues covered will depend to some extent on developments during the course itself. The following topics are likely (but not certain) to be covered: *The place of the UK in the world today: How do British people see themselves? *Trouble in Greece (and Britain): What future for the European Union? *The nature of democracy: What can we learn from the UK general election? *The future for Russia: Are we fighting a new cold war? *Human rights: Essential liberties or a bar to common sense? *Climate change: How should we respond (or is it too late)? *The global arms trade: How does it affect the world and what should we do about it? *Five years after the Arab Spring: What now for the Middle East and North Africa? *Same-sex marriage and LGBT rights: Global comparisons

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

1. Give a basic description of a number of international issues and controversies. 2. Identify the principles and ideas behind arguments made in the media and elsewhere. 3. Identify common trends across varied political conflicts and in different parts of the world. 4. Make a strong argument in favour of their chosen approach to certain political questions.

How will I know I'm making progress?

Ongoing discussion will help you to see how your understanding is developing. The tutor will comment informally on progress during sessions and is happy to provide individual feedback after sessions or by email if requested.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

None, although you may find it helpful to bring a notebook and pen.

Reading and information sources

No reading is required. Participants are encouraged to read varied news sources but we understand that not everyone has time for this. (However, if you are reading newspapers/websites regularly, it will be helpful to read a mixture, including those with contrasting views to each other).

What could the course lead to?

The follow-up course in the next term will look at other global issues in a similar format. It is designed with the expectation that most students will do both terms, but this is not compulsory. We hope that the skills and knowledge gained will be useful in helping you to understand news stories and political controversies as they develop. The tutor will make suggestions for other courses and books for those who are interested.

Download full course outline

Current Affairs: Britain and the Wider World Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2015
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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