Course title:
Victorian Vices: Idleness and how the Victorian Poor helped themselves
Cynthia Brown
Course ID:
Start date:
End date:
Timetabled sessions
Date Times Hours
Tue 15 Mar 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 15 Mar 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 that you need to know or to bring to the lecture.
Course aim:
To explain the punitive nature of the Poor law reform in 1834, assess how far the vice of 'idleness' was responsible for poverty among the Victorian labouring classes, and explore other possible causes.
Course description:
Until the later 18th century poverty was regarded largely as a misfortune – an act of Providence over which an individual had little or no control. Changing attitudes led to a reform of the Poor Laws in 1834 and a more punitive approach to the able-bodied poor, based on the principle that the situation of an individual in work should not be less favourable than one in receipt of poor relief. This lecture will consider the arguments for the reform, including the alleged vice of 'idleness', and ask how far they reflected the realities of working class poverty such as trade depressions, illness or old age. Did the harsh regime of the workhouse and the stigma that came to be attached to claiming poor relief have the intended deterrent effect; and how far did social investigators like Charles Booth challenge prevailing attitudes in the later 19th century? The lecture will also consider some examples of working class self-help, including Friendly Societies and co-operatives.
By the end of the course I will be able to:
1. Identify the main arguments about the causes of poverty on which the 1834 reform of the Poor Laws was based.
2. Assess how far these reflected the realities of working class life.
3. Explain the principles on which working class 'self' help' organisations operated.
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

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What next?

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