Britain and the World in the 1960s

Ref: C3741107

While Britain allegedly “swings” amid Beatlemania and World Cup triumph, the world lurches from crisis to crisis: the Kennedy and King assassinations, Vietnam War and revolutionary turmoil in 1968. We trace Britain's remarkable rise to popular culture supremacy through the likes of the Beatles, Mary Quant and Michael Caine but also reflect the dark side of the decade with its homelessness, poverty, backstreet abortionists and racism. In the process, we examine the challenges facing the Labour government of the period in its ambition to expose Britain to the "white heat" of technological change. Our look at America will also include the Johnson legacy and the first Moon landing. Former BBC correspondent, Paul Legg, illuminates the decade with documentary and feature film and audio recordings.

Course aim

The course explores the dramatic political, economic, social and cultural change in Britain in the decade relating this to a world in turmoil.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • 1. Describe and give three examples of the problems faced by the Wilson government as it tried to "modernise" Britain.
  • 2. Explain why the title "Swinging Britain" is an inadequate description of the decade and denote three areas where the nation fell well short of being a liberal society at the start of the decade.
  • 3. List areas in which Britain led the way in popular culture and sport and name three of the leading artists/groups and/or teams.
  • 4. Explain what made the 1960s such a turbulent decade for America and name three key events.
  • 5. Describe in general terms the turmoil in the world in the late 1960s and list three areas of conflict.

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

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?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • It would be useful to have read or looked at Dominic Sandbrook's "White Heat: A history of Britain in the Swinging Sixties" (Abacus 2007)

What can I do next?

  • 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
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full Course information sheet

Britain and the World in the 1960s


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  • 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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