20th Century London

Ref: C3742779

This new course explores a momentous epoch in London's history which saw the death of Queen Victoria, huge social change and urban expansion. The Victorians had built railways and sewers; 20th century London created new tube networks and mushrooming suburbs, 'Metroland'. Along the Great West Road, 'hi-tech' industries developed such as Hoover. Ocean vessels embarked from massive new docks such as the King George V and, at the cutting edge of technology, passenger planes took off from Croydon and Heston airports. The BBC harnessed the airwaves to communicate directly with the peoples of the world. After the upheaval and destruction of two world wars, the old Victorian certainties gave way to the new challenges and protests of the 1960s. Traditional values were questioned and a new society emerged, characterised by youth culture, multiculturalism, and 'Swinging London'.

Course aim

To illustrate, interpret and discuss the structural and social changes that London experienced in the 20th century from the death of Queen Victoria to the 'Swinging 60s' and beyond.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Students are expected to have a general interest and some knowledge of London

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

  • Review London's evolution from Victorian to 'modern'
  • discuss London's urban expansion and key buildings
  • discuss London's innovations: infrastructure and modern industries
  • discuss London's social changes and diversity
  • characterise what made London 'the unique city' (Rasmussen 1934)

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
  • 1. the tutor welcomes students' contributions e.g. family histories 2. the tutor will i.) distribute a questionnaire ii.) and present students with suggested answers as a means of assessing learning achieved

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
  • the tutor will provide non-judgemental written comments on the students' answers to the questionnaire

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.)
  • a large map of Greater London is desirable

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • preferably read one or more of these: Porter, R. 'London a social history' Rasmussen, S. E. 'London the unique city' Weightman, G. & Humphries, S. 'The making of modern London 1914-1939 White, J. London in the twentieth century

What can I do next?

  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here http://www.wea.org.uk/learn-wea/what-can-i-do-next
  • Visit musems in London: i.) The Museum of London, London Wall (St Paul's UG) ii.) The Museum of London in Docklands (Canary Wharf DLR) iii.) London Transport Museum (Covent Garden UG)

Download full course information sheet

20th Century London


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

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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