Victorians Abroad

Ref: C2339122

Victorian Britain was a great exporter of people as well as raw materials and manufactures. We will consider who went 'abroad', why and where they went, and their experience of life in other parts of the world. Foremost among them were merchants and manufacturers, who also established their own social and sporting institutions. Many people migrated to the colonies or other 'lands of opportunity', often maintaining their ties with the 'Mother Country'. Missionaries were 'drawn to the Heathen', while the security and administration of the Empire required large numbers of soldiers and civil servants, and a delicate balance between persuasion and coercion. Cheaper and safer foreign travel opened new horizons for the middle classes, as the more intrepid continued to explore new areas of the world. We will also look at migration to Britain itself in the 19th century – and consider some of the ‘legacies’ of Empire in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Course aim

The course will look at people who left Britain in the 19th century for other parts of the world. Where and why did they go, and what was their experience of life ‘abroad’?

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • Explain why some Victorians went ‘abroad’, both on a temporary and permanent basis.
  • Identify some common characteristics of emigrants in terms of age, gender, social status and occupation.
  • Analyse some of the obstacles and challenges that emigrants from Britain encountered.
  • Give examples of the 'legacies' of the British Empire in the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Know where to access additional historical sources if required for further independent study.

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

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

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

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
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member

Download full Course information sheet

Victorians Abroad


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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