The Roots of British Socialism 1870-1930

Ref: C2226785

The mid 19th century was marked by economic uncertainty and worsening social conditions; these were created largely by industrialisation and the introductions of new technologies. In the UK, it took a long time for a new political language to emerge, one that might address these issues. In this respect, the UK was decades behind the workers' movements on the continent. As our trade unions were released from the legal shackles that had bound them, the time finally became ripe for the writings of Marx & Engels to be discovered. But even as British socialism began to develop in the 1880s, splits began to appear. What to do? Follow the revolutionary path to workers' control, or be pragmatic, and take the parliamentary route? We shall follow this story forward into the 1920s.

Course aim

What was the promise of socialism, and why did the advocates of this ideology keep falling out with each other over how its (obvious) advantages should be implemented. It's the old question - revolution, or reform?

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:

  • explain how a new political language was required to address the social & economic issues of the 19th century
  • assess how the socialist movement in the UK rapidly became a "broad church"
  • begin to describe how & why splits occurred in the movement
  • analyse the impact of the Russian Revolution on how socialism developed in the UK

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
  • This course will largely be based upon open discussion of the issues raised; there will also be some small group work.

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

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • It would be useful to bring a laptop or tablet along to the course. The tutor will create an online resource (a Padlet) to support the progress of the course.

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 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

The Roots of British Socialism 1870-1930

Enrolment Conditions

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 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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