'Kings, Parliaments and People' 18th - 20th Centuries

Ref: C3746924

By the eighteenth century, certain constitutional issues had been settled: the monarch was not absolute and he could not rule without Parliament. In 1735, Robert Walpole, the first prime minister, moved into 10 Downing Street. The constitutional issues shifted to the reform of Parliament and the extension of the right to vote. Three Reform Acts in the nineteenth century remodelled the parliamentary constituencies and extended the franchise, though at the time of the First World War, 40 per cent of men still did not have the vote. In the twentieth century women were given the vote on the same terms as men and the House of Lords lost much of its power. Had Britain finally become a parliamentary democracy?

Course aim

To show how Parliament extended its powers in the period after 1700 and how all adults obtained the right to vote.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers
  • This course is open for all with an interest in the period.

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

  • understand the development of Parliament and the British constitution in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • assess the workings of Parliament and the voting system in the eighteenth century
  • understand the progress of parliamentary reform in the nineteenth century
  • be aware of how the relationship of Lords and Commons changed in this period
  • recognise some of the changes to parliamentary government in the twentieth century

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. You will need a personal email address to join the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

'Kings, Parliaments and People' 18th - 20th Centuries

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has started and there are no online enrolment places available.


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

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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