Origins of the Welfare State: from Poor Law to the present

Ref: C2346660

To provide an examination of the origins of the British Welfare State beginning with the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 and subsequent economic and social developments in the 19th and 20th centuries which resulted in the establishment of the Welfare State after 1945. Reviewing housing, health, welfare and educational provisions will provide a context to determine if the welfare state is being rolled back in the early 21st century.

Course aim

To investigate the origins of the British Welfare State with a view to evaluate how far the original concept has been sustained or rolled back in the 21st century in Britain.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

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

  • Explore how the less well off in British society were viewed and treated before the Welfare State was established
  • List the different welfare services which existed for the less well off between 1834 and 1945
  • Discuss the key economic, social and political developments which occurred between 1834 and 1945 which led to an establishment of a state system of welfare for all
  • Distinguish between developments in housing, health, education and welfare between 1834 and 1945 and how these relate to Beveridge's five giants.
  • Create a judgement on whether the original concept of the Welfare State has been sustained in the 21st century or has been rolled back to some extent

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

You don't need to know anything about this topic You will participate in a range of activities using visual and written resources. You will be given handouts and may want to bring a folder, paper and pen to take part fully.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Origins of the Welfare State: from Poor Law to the present


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 2021
  • 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

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