The History of the Vote in the UK

Ref: C2346971

In 1832, fewer than 1 in 20 people had a vote, and it was cast in public. Women were barred from voting by law. By 1928, all adults were able to vote. Over the century between these dates, millions of people protested, fought and sometimes died to achieve the right to vote. This course will look at the important people, movements and events that created popular democracy in the UK. It will show how an elite group of people systematically clung to power and excluded people from political participation through widespread corrupton, misogyny, religious bigotry and arbitrary property requirements. It will explain how a combination of idealism, organisation and persistence overcame these barriers, often at great personal cost to those involved. The final session will look at our modern democracy, and we will discuss how far it matches the ideals of those who fought for it, and what might re-energise people's engagement with politics and political ideas.

Course aim

Through a series of illustrated lectures this course will chart the development of popular democracy in the UK up to 1928, when all adults were finally able to vote.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

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

  • recount how popular democracy developed in the UK
  • understand the extent of opposition to 'ordinary people' having a vote
  • understand the extent to which control of Parliament has given control over daily life in the UK
  • discuss whether we have truly achieved 'universal suffrage' in the UK
  • Relate historical information to current social and political contexts

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

Please think about why 'a vote' is important to you (or not). If you have family stories about involvement in the fight for the vote, please bring them along.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

The History of the Vote in the UK


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

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  • 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 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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