The Workshop of the World: Politics, Progress and Poverty in Victorian England

Ref: C2420894

By the second half of the nineteenth century, as a result of an industrial revolution and the growth of trade and Empire, Britain had become 'the workshop of the world.' Alongside the massive increase in production and wealth a transformation of British society was taking place. The course will examine some of these social, economic and political changes - campaigns to widen the vote and to improve social conditions, the emergence of trade unions, the beginnings of state education, the growth of industry and cities. The course will also examine the importance of some of the leading figures, writers and artists of the period - Charles Dickens, Octavia Hill, George Peabody, Florence Nightingale, Charles Booth, Millicent Fawcett. The course will include a guided walk or visit.

Course aim

To examine the economic, political and social changes taking place in British society during the nineteenth century

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • The course is for anyone with an enquiring mind and an interest in history

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

  • Identify key features of the industrial revolution
  • Apply new knowledge of the subject by contributing to class discussion
  • Describe the influence of at least one key figure of the period
  • Demonstrate own research on a relevant painting, writer or book

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 consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

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.)
  • Note making materials

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
  • London in the Nineteenth Century by Jerry White is useful background reading

What can I do next?

Download full course information sheet

The Workshop of the World: Politics, Progress and Poverty in Victorian England


This course is funded by the Greater London Combined Authority but is also open to residents of other areas.

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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