The First Civilisations

Ref: C3671382

This course explores the emergence of the first urban societies in human history, and the civilisation, cultures and everyday life of those distant societies. We will be looking at the origins of these societies in the area known as Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and Syria), and also those in early India and China. How did these societies start? What was life like for these people? And how do these ancient civilisations influence us today? We will be considering the darker side of humanity, with evidence of the first large-scale wars, the use of slavery and the development of social inequality. We will also look at the enlightened side of these peoples: considering the invention of writing, pottery, housing and the wheel. We will also look at the world's first known story, the Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as consider the use of musical instruments, poetry, religion and cooking in these societies.

Course aim

To explore the origins, culture, and the social and economic development of the world's first civilisations in the area known as Mesopotamia, with a brief look at similar processes in China and India.

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:

  • Understand the origins of the first urban societies and the concept and use of the term 'civilisation'
  • Know an outline historical narrative of the first civilisations that originated in Mesopotamia, China and India
  • Understand the origins of writing
  • Examine the development and growth of the first urban societies
  • Identify aspects of the religion, social life, occupations and economies of these societies

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 will be encouraged to undertake optional additional reading and study with materials provided

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 be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • All materials will be provided

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

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full Course information sheet

The First Civilisations

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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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