Ref: C2224609

History tends to tell us - especially in the UK - that "reform" is preferable to "revolution"; but is there some fake news at work here? We shall consider many of the radicals who have pushed the boundaries, who have raised serious questions about the role of the state and the nature of society; we shall do our best to rescue them from what EP Thompson memorably called "the enormous condescension of history". We shall look mainly, but not exclusively, at examples from British history. We shall move between the Peasants Revolt & the Poll Tax Riots; Kett's Rebellion & the Occupy Movement; the Chartists & the Suffragettes; Greenpeace & Greenham Common. The course will be based upon open (and free!) discussion of the issues raised. Students will be encouraged to follow their own lines of interest. Plenty of lively discussion is guaranteed.

Course aim

To look, in some detail, at some of the people, movements and incidents that have caused governments to fear insurrection. On the spectrum between non-violent direct action to armed struggle - is there a limit to freedom of action?

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • No prior knowledge is required - just an interest in discussing the issues raised.

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

  • Explore and discuss another side of history, one which is frequently hidden.
  • Recognise some common themes, which have remained largely constant over the centuries.
  • Discuss why some contentious issues remain unresolved today.
  • Explore the many beneficial changes to society that have only happened thanks to "troublemakers".
  • Discuss, with confidence, the issues raised by this course.

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 be creating an online "Padlet" dedicated to this course. You will be encouraged to use it as a resource, and as a message board both during, and after the course. Printed handouts will also be available.

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.)
  • If you have a laptop, tablet or smartphone, you will find it useful to bring them to the class. Otherwise, just turn up with an open mind!

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
  • This course is preceded by another, "Protest and Survive", running in the Autumn 2017 term. The two are closely linked, but they are also designed to be stand-alone courses.

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 information sheet



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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