Working Lives

Ref: C2225588

From working the land, to navigation, to spinning to mining, this course will explore a range of occupations, their conditions and achievements. Five hundred years ago most people farmed, in one way or another, and handicrafts were carried out in the home, but over time industry and commerce became the dominant employers. Later still, the service industries expanded to rival and overtake manufacturing. We'll use workers' own comments on their work (diaries, letters, witness statements and memoires) as well as reports by outsider observers. There are tales of toil and tribulation but also of achievement and progress. We'll look critically at our sources to assess their reliability and what they may omit or exaggerate.A wealth of pictures will also be used - paintings, engravings, sketches and photographs - but these may also need careful consideration. Why were they produced and for whom? This course's excursion into social history will tie in with family and local history.

Course aim

To examine some of the ways in which people made a living in England over the last 500 years and through this to look at the broader economy and social issues in England history.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • Identify key changes in the occupation structure in the UK over the last 500 years.
  • Identify and use a variety of original sources for researching this topic.
  • Analyse critically the value of sources fir this aspect of history.

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

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
  • 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
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course information sheet

Working Lives


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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