The Sixties: Music, Culture, Politics

Ref: C3676190

The 1960s was a decade of progress and disruption as an economic boom walked hand-in-hand with a period of social liberation. The era produced some extraordinary headlines – from assassination to demonstration, from racial to sexual rebellion, from displays of peace to the savagery of war – and the stories that accompanied the times often focused on the ways creative powers in society were commentating on & even influencing the changes that were underway. Thus musicians from Bob Dylan to the Beatles, from Motown to Stax, produced a remarkable body of work that not only drew on folk and rock'n'roll, on blues and soul, but also distilled the fluctuating mood of these volatile times. From the election of John F. Kennedy and the tremors of Cold War to the exhilaration of the Moon landing and celebrations of Woodstock, the decade was riddled with high drama. We will aim to capture that spirit in politics, music, art and literature and explore how these diverse elements were inter-connected.

Course aim

The course will consider the Anglo-American 1960s from a range of perspectives: the political, the cultural and the musical. We will make links between the events of an exciting period and the creative forces that shaped and reflected their times.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • This course will cast light on an important 20th-century era. It will be of interest to both those who lived through these times and also younger students wanting to grasp the principal points from a thrilling and volatile decade.

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

  • – Understand the principal political events of this era
  • – Grasp the ways in which wider society developed during the period
  • – Appreciate the way that popular music both commented on and shaped this history
  • – Achieve a sense of how all the aspects of the arts and media responded to the decade
  • – Establish an insight into issues of the individual and identity – from sex to drugs, race and gender, freedom and religion – during these years

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
  • There will be recommendations for further exploration – from readings to the web – but these will be voluntary. Students will also be invited to do some small amount of preparation, e.g. think about favourite acts or songs from the period to provide platforms for discussion and interchange in class.

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.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • 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
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information

Download full course information sheet

The Sixties: Music, Culture, Politics

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This course has been cancelled.


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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