Giants of the 19th Century

Ref: C2224351

The figures we will study each had a great impact on 19th century life. Whether in the field of philanthropy, politics, medical advancement, scientific enquiry, the military or manufacturing, they were ambitious, dedicated and driven. Each of these personalities made their mark very firmly on the 19th century and most of them still attract admiration today. We look at the work and public persona of each individual, but also at their private lives and some aspects that only patient research over the years has now revealed. We ask: what was their contribution and legacy?

Course aim

To investigate the life and work of some well-known figures from the 19th century, including Samuel Courtauld, Angela Burdett-Coutts, Abraham Lincoln and others. What motivated and inspired them?

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:

  • Participate in discussion about some aspects of the lives the individuals we will study.
  • Identify some factors which demonstrate any conflict between the public and private lives of these individuals.
  • Participate in discussion about the reasons for (and any connections between) their lives and work.
  • Evaluate the impact and legacy of these individuals.

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
  • Tutor can suggest further opportunities for research/follow-up activities.

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
  • A file of work will be kept which will help to record your progress

What else do I need to know?

  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • Hand-outs will be provided. Course members may wish to bring pens/notebooks/highlighter for note-taking.

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
  • Tutor will also provide a booklist of suggested reading at the start of the course.

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

Download full course outline

Giants of the 19th Century 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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