In and Out of the Workhouse

Ref: C2224264

COURSE FULL, PLEASE CONTACT BRIDGET HALE IF YOU HAVE ALREADY RESERVED A SPACE 01480 216391 Using, wherever possible, local examples we will consider the rationale behind the new Victorian workhouse system and how Government legislation and social attitudes changed the role of the workhouse. Topics covered include the workhouse administration, the role of the staff, the daily life of the inmates, specialist treatment for elderly, sick and the young, alternatives to the workhouse such as emigration, changing social attitudes brought about by media coverage and surveys into poverty, the start of the welfare state and the demise of the union workhouse with a final session comparing the Victorian provision for poverty with that of today.

Course aim

To investigate life inside the Union Workhouse and discover how UK government legislation & social attitudes changed the treatment of the poor, elderly and sick between 1834 and 1948.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is for beginners

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

  • List the main personnel involved with running a union workhouse and their role
  • Describe the daily routine for an inmate of the Union Workhouse
  • Explain how changing social attitudes influenced the treatment of the elderly, sick and the young in workhouses.
  • Make comparisons between the Victorian and modern-day provision for the poor.

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
  • The tutor will provide handouts, worksheets and web-link pages for each session by email for those with internet access. There will be paired and small group discussions and evaluation tasks during the lectures.

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

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • All materials will be provided
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • The tutor will provide a book box library for the students' use during the course.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

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
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here
  • The tutor will provide a handout listing places of interest to visit, additional reading and websites to visit relating to the content of the course, at the end of the course.

Download full course outline

In and Out of the Workhouse 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 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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