Course title:
Victorian Vices: Prostitution and the Victorian Modern Babylon
Cynthia Brown
Course ID:
Start date:
End date:
Timetabled sessions
Date Times Hours
Tue 08 Feb 2022 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM 1
Total sessions: 1
Total number of classroom hours: 1
Independent online hours: 0
Total hours: 1
Tue 08 Feb 2022
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Total sessions:
Total number of classroom hours:
Independent online hours:
Total hours:
Online Learning with Zoom and Canvas
Leads to qualification?    No
Level:     Level 2 (level information)
Is this course part of a programme of study?
Programme details
Programme title:
Programme aims:
Programme description:
Who is this programme for?
Optional Activity Start date End date Fee
£5.00 or free on some courses if you are in receipt of some benefits
What skills or experience do I need to join this course?
This course is for beginners and improvers
This course is for beginners and improvers
What else do I need to know? Is there anything I need to provide?
There is nothing you need to know or bring to the lecture.
Course aim:
This lecture will consider attitudes to prostitution in Victorian Britain, along with attempts to regulate it and ‘rescue’ prostitutes, including children. It will also ask why male homosexuality became an issue towards the end of the 19th century,
Course description:
As the ‘oldest profession’, prostitution was no new feature of society in the 19th century – but it was more visible in urban areas of the country, and one of the most direct challenges to the Victorian ideal of family life. This lecture will consider the scale of prostitution in Victorian Britain, asking who became a prostitute, and why. In examining attempts to regulate prostitution and ‘rescue’ prostitutes, it will look in particular at the Contagious Diseases Acts of the 1860s, their inequalities, and the campaign to repeal them. It will also focus on the ‘maiden tribute of modern Babylon’ represented by child prostitution, led by the crusading journalist W.T. Stead, who fell foul of the very law that he was attempting to reform; and ask why male homosexuality became an issue towards the end of the 19th century, taking the unsuccessful libel case brought by Oscar Wilde against the Marquis of Queensbury as an example.
By the end of the course I will be able to:
1. Explain why prostitution became such a great social issue during the Victorian period.
2. Assess the success of attempts to regulate or suppress it.
3. Explain why male homosexuality also became an issue in the late 19th century.
4. Know where to access additional sources for further independent study.
How will I learn?

We expect you to attend your classroom sessions and make time to do any required learning activities on your own.

The WEA tutor will use a range of teaching and learning activities and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning. Your tutor will use tasks to see how you are learning, which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects, discussion, written or practical work. Your tutor will give you feedback on your learning and progress.

WEA Canvas online learning area

Whether your course is face to face or online, the WEA uses its online learning area, called Canvas, to support your learning. This includes using Canvas to think about and record your progress and to give your tutor and the WEA feedback on your course. Your tutor may put resources or activities on Canvas to use during or between lessons. If you want to understand more about our Canvas online learning platform please visit:

WEA online sessions/ courses- Zoom

If your course is online, you will join a virtual classroom using a weblink: the WEA uses a video-conferencing tool called Zoom. To use Zoom you will need a Laptop, Computer, Tablet or Smart phone which has speakers, a microphone and a video camera. For some courses, to submit work, we advise you to use a laptop or computer. For more information on Canvas and Zoom please visit

Information and advice

For more information and advice about our courses phone our support team on 0300 303 3464 or email:


We will ask you about any support you may need when you enrol. You can also telephone the Student Support Team on 0300 303 3464 or email The earlier you tell us about your needs the better. We will be able to provide help more quickly.

You can also find out about what support is available through our Student Handbook. This highlights what you can expect from WEA and what we expect from you.

For information about course fees and financial support whilst you study visit

For student support relating to specific learning need or disability visit

What next?

Your tutor will talk with you about what you could do following this course.

You can also find information on our website to support you to make decisions about what you can do next

You may benefit from speaking to the National Careers Service regarding your future career plans - call 0800 100 900 or visit their website