Day School: The Left in Britain - People, Ideas, Events

Ref: C3742944

In this day-school we will consider how the modern left evolved in Britain into its current form. Beginning with the explosion of ‘new unionism’ in the 1880s and the formation of the Labour Party in the early twentieth century, the story of British socialism will be told through the lives of a number of key radical pioneers and a number of landmark moments such as the General Strike, the 1945 General Election and the rise of New Labour. A number of important questions will be considered. Why was socialism in Britain different in character from its counterparts on the European continent? What was the relationship between a moderate socialism which argued for a parliamentary route to power and those groups which stressed the need for revolution? What were the attitudes of the Left and the wider trade union movement towards key issues such as female suffrage and migration? How does this narrative reflect on the current position of the Labour Party in the uncertain post-Brexit world?

Additional information about this course

This course is not supported by The Education and Skills Funding agency and does not have a fee waiver but concessions may be available. Contact the branch for further details.

Course aim

This course will examine the evolution of the British Left from its formations in the Victorian period to its current position in the early twenty-first century.

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:

  • Be able to explain the evolution of the British Left
  • be able to name some of the key personalities involved in British socialism.
  • An ability to place the current position of the Labour Party in a historical context in discussion.
  • Demonstrate a broader understanding of British political and social history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in discussion.

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 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
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation

Download full course information sheet

Day School: The Left in Britain - People, Ideas, Events


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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