The Quest for Utopia

Ref: C2225386

In first creating Utopia in 1516, Thomas More's intention was to make a critique of the world as he saw it, by using the disguise of writing a description of an invented island state. This device has since been widely used by philosophers, reformers, and dreamers. We shall also look at practical attempts to create the perfect society. But what happens when it all goes wrong - then we enter the world of the dystopia, with writers such as Wells, Huxley & Orwell as our guides.

Course aim

To look into the many interpretations of, and descriptions of "Utopia". To see that it has come to mean much more than Thomas More had in mind, when he first coined the name in 1516.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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

  • Identify why the "utopia" is so culturally important
  • See clearly how the utopia has been used as a political device
  • Discuss, with confidence, the symbolism and importance of desiring utopia
  • Outline the historical development of the utopian, and dystopian views of the world
  • Understand why writing about imagined states has become increasingly gloomy, and dystopian

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • Suggestions will be made for useful internet sites to be visited. It may help, if you have one, to bring your tablet or laptop with you. The tutor will create an online "padlet", which will act as a resource, and a messageboard.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • The following may be useful: Claeys & Sargent The Utopia Reader NYU Press, 1999 L.T.Sargent Utopianism - A Very Short Introduction Oxford UP, 2010 G. Claeys Searching for Utopia Thames & Hudson, 2011

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course information sheet

The Quest for Utopia


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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