Rout Cakes, Riddles and Regency Lovers: Jane Austen's Emma

Ref: C2343675

This course looks at the social history of the Regency period which forms the setting for Jane Austen’s 'Emma' - a period of lavish hospitality among country gentry, but also of huge cultural and social change. Jane Austen described Emma Woodhouse as ‘a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like’, a girl who gets almost everything wrong while thinking herself infallibly right - yet many critics consider this novel to be Austen's greatest. Exploring the novel's social settings, comedy and morality, we make time too for sheer enjoyment.

Course aim

This course enables a multi-layered study of Jane Austen's 'Emma' , as a great comic novel and as offering insights into social history.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You will need your own personal email address so that you’re able to login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to understand how to follow URL links to pages on the internet. If you want to understand more about Canvas please visit:
  • You will need to be able to follow links to join our WEA live video learning platform: WEA Zoom. If you’d like to understand more about our video learning platform, Zoom please visit: and
  • This course is for a group of around 15 students studying in a live video-learning platform conference and an online digital learning environment platform from the comfort of your own home.
  • This is a live lecture delivered by a subject specialist in an online webinar video learning platform. You will need to be able to access the internet on a device with speakers or earphones. There will be opportunities to take part in discussions and chats. If you’d like to know how to use Zoom please visit:
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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

  • Express an informed opinion on 'Emma' as a work of literature.
  • Outline some of the political, environmental and social factors that underpin key scenes in the novel.
  • (optional) Undertake independent research into a chosen aspect of the novel such as travel, agriculture, or the growth of literacy, and report back to the class.

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 share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • All materials will be provided
  • Reading or re-reading 'Emma' or any Austen novel can only enhance your course. Helena Kelly's ''Jane Austen, The Secret Radical", and "Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England" by Roy and Lesley Adkins are highly recommended.

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
  • See above for recommended texts.

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

Rout Cakes, Riddles and Regency Lovers: Jane Austen's Emma


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • 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 2020
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions
  • I declare that the address I have provided is correct and that I will provide evidence of this and my eligibility to live and work in the UK

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