History: The World Encompassed

Ref: C2223548

This course will consider how Europeans discovered the rest of the world, looking in particular at the great voyages of the 15th and 16th centuries but also those which filled in the gaps later. It will consider the background to these voyages, what motivated them and what developments in understanding and technology made them possible?

Course aim

To chart the European discovery of the rest of the world: the men, their motives and their voyages

Who is the course for?

No previous experience or qualification required

What topics will this course cover

Topics covered will include: European understanding of the world prior to the 15th century Earlier settlement and European discovery The route to India and the Indies Early circumnavigations The discovery of the Americas The search for the NE and NW passages The opening of the Pacific Completing the map

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. Recall some of the principal voyages of discovery and the people involved 2. Identify key stages in the European discovery of the world 3. Explain the motives behind the voyages of discovery 4. Discuss the claims for pre-Columbian achievements and their relevance to later voyages. 5. Discuss the nature of the achievement which individual voyages represent.

How will I know I'm making progress?

There will be opportunities to check learning through regular reviews, questions and discussions

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

There are no essential books or materials though learners might find an atlas a helpful accompaniment to the course

Reading and information sources

No prior reading or preparation is required

What could the course lead to?

The study of voyages of exploration can lead to a variety of related fields including the history of pre- and post-discovery settlement, shipping and merchant trade, maritime technology and medieval thought. . A number of museums hold relevant collections including the National Maritime Museum, London, the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge and the Captain Cook Memorial Museum,Whitby. Replica vessels available to visit include the Matthew in Bristol, the Golden Hinde in Brixham and the Endeavour at Whitby. Exploration and discovery are often the themes of television programmes, not only on terrestrial channels, but also on digital/satellite channels such as UK History, Discovery and National Geographic.

Download full course outline

History: The World Encompassed 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 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
Visa Credit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Debit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Electron payments supported by RBS WorldPay Mastercard payments supported by RBS WorldPay Maestro payments supported by RBS WorldPay JCB payments supported by RBS WorldPay Solo payments supported by RBS WorldPay
RBS WorldPay Payments Processing