Smoke, Mirrors and Shifting Alliances: Espionage in the South

Ref: C3744501

The shadowy world of espionage and plotting continues to intrigue through novels and films, but what about real life? This course looks at the lives and activities of local people involved in undercover activities of all kinds from Tudor times to the 20th century. Dramatic, intriguing and sometimes even amusingly inept.

Course aim

To study the nature of plots, undercover activities, espionage and counter-espionage in the South from Tudor times to the 20th century and to find out more about the individuals involved, their backgrounds, activities and motivations

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • Consider the range of English counter-espionage organizations from Tudor to 20th century and set each in context of the threat, or perceived threat, they sought to overcome.
  • Identify the nature of a range of plots against the state and explain what those involved sought to achieve and why.
  • Briefly describe techniques used by both plotters and state agencies and identify changes or similarities over the centuries.
  • Describe the careers and activities of a number of individuals involved in espionage/counter-espionage or plotting and explain the outcomes both for the individuals and the state.
  • Locate local properties associated with activities and individuals consider in 1-4 above.

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
  • 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

What else do I need to know?

  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • Map of the area, (OS or good road atlas) useful but not essential.

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
  • 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

Download full course information sheet

Smoke, Mirrors and Shifting Alliances: Espionage in the South

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

Not sure or have further questions? Contact

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