From ancient cryptography to the glamour of the grand tour
British Constitutional History
The British constitution has a unique and fascinating history, its development stemming from British disdain for revolution and yet influencing regimes all over the world. We begin by examining the ground-breaking Magna Carta of 1215, viewed as a symbol of liberty around the world. Next, we explore government under the Tudors, the Stuarts and the Glorious Revolution that set the foundation for rights in Britain and the constitutional monarchy. We will explore Act of Settlement of 1701, Judicial Independence and the union between England and Scotland of 1707. Next will be Great Reform Act of 1832 and the evolution of democracy in the nineteenth century, before we go on to discover more recent changes to the constitution, such as the Parliament Acts of the twentieth century, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Union, the Blair Government Reforms, the Coalition Reforms and finally the great controversy of Brexit.
Opportunities for tailoring this course include the incorporation of material from our political philosophy courses, for example the political philosophy of John Locke. It also works well in conjunction with our courses on Plantagenet, Tudor and Stuart history. Your tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities, including a PhD and two Politics degrees, and fourteen years of tutoring and lecturing experience.
The Plantagenets and the Wars of the Roses
This course begins by discussing the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine, her cultural impact on Paris and the Gothic Revival, before going on to explore the Crusades, the Knights Templar and the Sack of Constantinople. We will examine Henry II and the murder of Thomas Becket, Richard I and the legend of Robin Hood, the notorious John I and the ground-breaking Magna Carta; Henry III and the establishment of Universities and Cathedrals, Edwards I, II and III and the issue of Scotland the Black Death and the Hundred Years’ War. Learn about Richard II, Geoffrey Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales, language and culture under Henries IV and V; Henry VI of Lancaster and Edward IV of York and the possible death in the tower of Edward V. Finally, we shall investigate the notorious Richard III, the Battle of Bosworth and the incredible discovery in of Richard’s body Leicester in the twenty-first century.
This course is an excellent precursor to our course on the Tudors and is ideal for those who wish to know more about one of the most thrilling and divided periods in England’s history. Options for tailoring include the incorporation of material from our course on British constitutional history, or material on the mythology of Robin Hood. Your tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities, including politics and the history of political thought.
We begin by studying the reign of Henry VII in the wake of the Battle of Bosworth, at the end of the Wars of the Roses. This was a pivotal time in English history, and we shall examine the philosophies of Erasmus, Moore and humanism to make sense of it. Next, we shall examine the reign of the notorious Henry VIII: his relationship with Thomas Wolsey, the Divorce, the tumultuous Dissolution of the Monasteries and the Pilgrimage of Grace among other things. We shall explore the short reign of Edward VI, which was nevertheless packed with plotting, intrigue and rebellion. Mary I will be a fascinating subject for study, as political ambition and religious conviction constitute fundamental elements of her reign. Finally, we shall study the reign of Elizabeth I, perhaps one of our greatest monarchs and the queen under whom Shakespeare spent most of his life. We shall explore the Religious Settlement, rebellion and Elizabethan government, and pay close attention to Elizabeth’s relationship with Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabethan Culture, the Renaissance and the emergence of trade and empire under Elizabeth.
This course is an excellent precursor to our course on the Stuarts and is ideal for those who wish to know more about England’s most famous monarchs. Options for tailoring include the incorporation of material on Shakespeare’s plays, in which you will be able to read between the lines and discover what the Bard is trying to say between the lines – and to conceal. You may also wish to include material from our History of Political Philosophy course to learn more about the philosophy of Thomas More, author of Utopia and Chancellor to Henry VIII. Your tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities, including politics and the history of political thought.
The Stuarts are known as the dynasty that followed the infamous Tudors, but the Stuart period deserves attention in its own right for being one of the most pivotal, misunderstood and intriguing periods in English history. We begin by studying the Tudor legacy, before examining the fraught reign of James I. The reign and execution of Charles I was a game changer in English history, and we will discover the events that unfolded here, from the Personal Rule to the Civil War, from the Interregnum and Oliver Cromwell to the Restoration and the reign of Charles II. There are more twists to investigate as we go on to examine the reign of James II and the so-called “Glorious Revolution,” perhaps one of the most successful propaganda campaigns in history. We shall gain an understanding of the reign of William and Mary, which laid the foundation for the constitutional monarchy Britain was to become. Students will also have the opportunity to investigate the Bill of Rights and decide for themselves whether it is one of the most important safeguards of our constitutional freedoms or a brilliant piece of marketing – or both.
This course is an excellent follow-up to our course on the Tudors and is ideal for those who wish to understand this crucial period in English history. Options for tailoring include the incorporation of material from our British Constitutional History course, which will deepen your understanding of the political implications of the events studied here. You may also wish to combine this course with our interdisciplinary course, How to Take Over the World, in which we learn about historic uses of propaganda: anyone interested in how to successfully invade a country and disguise it as salvation should take note of the strategy of William of Orange studied here. Your tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities, including politics and the history of political thought.
The British Empire
The British Empire has its roots in an age of discovery and exploration, in which Christopher Columbus “discovered” America and Elizabeth I ruled over the maritime power of England, so we shall begin by examining early European colonial empires. We shall explore immigration, slavery and indentured servitude in the American colonies, the partition of Africa, the siege of Kharthoum and the Boers. The Empire affected a range of areas of the world in different ways, so we shall also examine the British Empire in Asia, from the Mughal Empire and the Raj to the Opium Wars and the Boxer Rebellion. The course also includes a study of Britain in Imperial Times, from the approach to empire of Disraeli, Gladstone and Chamberlain and Imperialism to the impact of empire on the Working Class. Finally, we shall consider the effect of the First and Second World Wars, decolonisation and independence and the Commonwealth.
This course is ideal for those with a curiosity about the nature of empire, the historical background to Britain’s place in the world and how Britain has affected its former colonies. Options for tailoring include the incorporation of material from our American political history course, which will give you a greater understanding about how the former British colonies developed after independence. You may also wish to combine this course with our interdisciplinary course, How to Take Over the World, in which the notion of empire plays a big part. Your tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities, including politics and the history of political thought.
The Victorian period gave us some of the most unique and lasting cultural and technological innovations in history, from the advancements of the Industrial Revolution to Victorian melodrama, penny dreadfuls and the art of the Pre-Raphaelites. We begin by exploring stereotypes of the Victorians and the reality, discussing Victorian conceptions of sex, gender and class, the Victorian family and the cult of the home. We go on to examine science and religion in Victorian Britain, including Darwinism and the dark subject of eugenics. Students will be invited to consider Victorian government and politics, including the rise of the House of Commons, the extension of the vote and the abolition of slavery. This is set against the backdrop of the Industrial Revolution and the development of railways; steam engines, gas and electric light, photographs, cigarettes and hot air balloons. We will also investigate the Victorian British Empire, including the Indian Mutiny, the Opium Wars, the Scramble for Africa and anticolonial movements.
Options for tailoring the course include an investigation into the art of Victorian Secret-keeping, such as Charles Babbage and the Vigenère Cipher, the government hush-up during the Crimean War and Victorian Flower Dictionaries. You may also like to explore Victorian mysteries such as the mystery of the Mary Celeste or Jack the Ripper. Students might also like to investigate Victorian entertainment, such as penny gaffs and music halls, magic, freak shows and waxworks, circuses and Victorian boxing (including women’s boxing). This course also works well in combination with our other online History courses on the British Empire and Historical Mysteries. Your tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities.
This course covers some of the major themes and events of the Ancient world, such as the Greek-Persian Wars, the Peloponnesian War, Alexander the Great, the Roman Republic and Empire and the spread of Christianity under the Romans. You will learn about the archaeological secrets of Athens, Rome, Pompeii and some of the world’s other iconic ancient sites. Discover Augustus’ brilliant propaganda campaigns, the escapades of Nero, who allegedly played music while Rome burned, and Claudius’ invasion of Britain. Explore the military strategy of some of the Ancient World’s major players, from the Athenian and Spartan warfare techniques to the scorched earth policy of ancient mercenaries.
This course is a good starting point for those who wish to understand the ancient world. Options for tailoring include the addition of material from other parts of the ancient world, such as Egypt and Mesopotamia, material on how to reconstruct Ancient sources or material from our Greek and Roman Classics courses, such as Ancient Greek Religion and Athenian Democracy. Your tutor has a PhD in Classics and fourteen years of tutoring and lecturing experience.
History of Democracy
This course provides a historical study of one of the world’s most important concepts. We begin by exploring the Emergence of Democracy in the Ancient World, from Athenian Democracy to the Constitution of the Roman Republic, before examining the Emergence of Democracy in Britain, France and the United States. Our next unit, Establishing Democratic Values, examines the ways in which citizens of democracies have fought to have their democratic rights recognised: we examine the American Civil Rights Movement in particular here. Next, we explore the Emergence of Democracy after Empire, particularly in African nations such as South Africa and Uganda and democracy in India. Next, the Emergence of Democracy after the Cold War will be studied, particularly the revolutions of 1989 and democracy in Germany. Finally, we shall see how democracy has been used as a way of justifying more authoritarian regimes through Democratic Legitimation in Russia, China and Burma (Myanmar).
This course is ideal for any global citizen wishing to gain a better understanding of the world’s most influential political system. Opportunities for tailoring this course include the incorporation of material on Democracy in the Middle East, for example the U.A.E, Israel and the Arab Spring. We also recommend looking at our Political Ideas course and any of our courses courses on British, American, French, Russian, Chinese and Burmese Politics. Your tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities, including politics and the history of political thought, and a research masters’ specifically in Ancient Greek political philosophy.
History of Science
From the Pythagoreans, the Presocratics and Zeno to the twentieth century’s ultraviolet catastrophe and Einstein’s spooky action at a distance, the history of science is full of challenges to the way we see the world. Discover why the Big Bang theory is a solution to Olber’s Paradox, explore the heliocentric revolution in early modern astronomy and study the development of the theory of evolution and the curvature of spacetime. You will have the opportunity to learn about the history of the scientific method and discuss the value of Occam’s Razor, along with exploring some of the most exciting episodes in the history of science.
Options for tailoring include the incorporation of material from other history and philosophy courses, such as the influence of mathematics and science on philosophy in the Ancient World or the philosophy of science. Your personal tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities, including a PhD specifically in the history of science and mathematics. She is scientifically literate and has studied palaeontology and the natural sciences, in addition to her advanced degrees.
History of Transport
We begin by examining the history of transport through inventions and innovations, examining how items such as the saddle, the wheel, the ship and the motorcycle have shaped and been shaped by history, as well as routes like Roman roads, turnpikes, railways and canals. Discover the lives and times of some of history’s most prodigious explorers, such as Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, Captain Cook and Alexander von Humboldt. We will also examine the history of pilgrimage and tourism, from the glamour of the European Grand Tour to religious pilgrimage in the Himalayas. Learn about the major trade routes in history, such as the Silk Route, the Amber Road and the Trans Saharan Trade Road. We will also discuss the role of transport in the World Wars and the Cold War, from the use of motorcycles during the wars to the Space Race. Finally, you will have the opportunity to explore the history of motor racing and its relationship to major political and cultural events.
This course is ideal for those who wish to study history through the exciting and dynamic lens of travel and transport. It is an extremely flexible course, and lends itself well to combination with other subjects. Options for tailoring include the incorporation of material from our anthropology of transport course, such as the anthropology of banditry, piracy and the high seas, or motorcycle and trucker folklore. We also recommend looking at our interdisciplinary course on the history, culture and folklore of US Highways. Your tutor previously worked as a travel writer and has fourteen years of tutoring and lecturing experience. She has ridden on many of the racetracks featured in the course, and toured Europe and America extensively on motorcycles.
History of Boxing
We begin by investigating the emergence of boxing in the Ancient World, through a study of Minoan vase paintings, the Olympic Games, Gladiatorial Boxing and boxing as represented in literature such as Homer’s Iliad, Plato’s Republic and Virgil’s Aeneid. We go on to examine the emergence of bare-knuckle boxing in Britain, eighteenth century London’s bare-knuckle prize fights and the emergence of the Queensberry Rules. Especially interesting will be our study of the role of former slaves in the development of boxing, and Victorian women’s boxing. Students will have the opportunity to study some of the legends of twentieth century boxing, such as Jack Dempsey, Willie Pep, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. Study the ground breaking techniques of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Vasyl Lomachenko and Tyson Fury. We will discuss the historical and social implications of some of the most significant boxing matches in history, such as that between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling in 1938. Finally, students will have the opportunity to explore boxing styles in depth through an analysis of video footage of some of the world’s most skilled boxers.
This course is ideal for those who wish to understand the analytical side of boxing technique as well as the historical significance of the sport. Opportunities for tailoring the course include the incorporation of material from our other history courses, such as our other online History courses on the Victorians and American Political History. In addition, students will have the opportunity to focus on particular themes in depth, such as the aggressive counter punching pressure fighting of Dempsey, Tyson and Golovkin, Wladimir Klitschko’s jab chess, Floyd Mayweather’s defensive boxing and the Philly Shell, the stick and move tactics of Buster Douglas, fighting a taller opponent or southpaw tactics. Your tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities, has studied boxing technique extensively and has fought in boxing bouts in front of packed arenas.
History of Cryptography
This course begins with an introduction to the types of cipher, including classical, mechanical and modern, before examining ancient the codes of the Maya, Mesopotamia and Egypt. Explore Ancient Greek steganography, the Kama Sutra and the art of secret writing, Ancient Indian spy codes and Roman cryptography. Get to grips with Al-Kindi’s frequency analysis and the cryptography of the medieval period and learn from the mistakes of Mary Queen of Scots in the Tudor period. We will discuss Francis Bacon’s binary encoding and Thomas Jefferson’s cipher wheel begore going on to examine the Rosetta Stone, Victorian Flower Dictionaries, the cylindrical cryptograph and rotor cipher machines. The World Wars of the twentieth century produced fascinating advances in cryptography, from the Navajo and to the Enigma machine. Finally, we will examine digital cryptography and cryptocurrencies.
This course is ideal for those with a taste for the mysterious, the ingenious and the clandestine. It is possible to tailor the course by combining historical material from any of the periods covered, for example from our course on Ancient Greek Warfare or our courses on the Tudors or the Stuarts. Your personal tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities.
Study the mysteries of civilisations, such as the Sea Peoples and the Bronze Age Collapse, or the Maya Collapse. Decide for yourself about the existence of mythical places, such as the City of Atlantis, Shambala and the Himalayan hidden lands. Try to solve mysterious murders and disappearances, such as the disappearance of the Roanoke Colony or the Jack the Ripper murders and ponder over mysterious inventions and constructions such as the Moai of Easter Island, the Sphynx and the Traub Motorcycle. We will explore questions of identity and authorship, such as the Homeric Question, Tank Man and the Man in the Iron Mask. We will also investigate the mystery of treasure and thefts, such as the Copper Scroll treasure and historic art thefts. We will explore the possible identities and origins of heroes and legends such as King Arthur, Robin Hood and the mysterious Balu Tukangbu of the Himalayas. Mysterious hoaxes, such as the Donation of Constantine, the New York Sun’s Moon Hoax and the Cottingley Fairies will also be discussed. Those interested in the mystery of codes and code-breaking will enjoy our section on Mayan glyphs, Ancient Indian spy codes, Tudor Cryptography and the Rosetta Stone. Finally, the mystery of the supernatural will be explored, through historical phenomena such as the Bell Witch, the spiritualism of the Fox Sisters and the mystery of Roswell.
This course allows students to explore a range of mysteries from each category, but also works well as an in-depth study of a single mystery. As such, this course can be combined with material from our other online History courses, for example from our Victorian history course in your Jack the Ripper case study, or from our Himalayan folklore course in your Balu Tukangbu case study. We also recommend looking at our interdisciplinary course on the History of Art Theft. Approaching history through the lens of unsolved mysteries is a rich and rewarding endeavour: we encourage an environment of fun, inquiry and respect for the past in this line of study. Your tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities, and has travelled all over the world in pursuit of the elusive, the peculiar and the unexplained.
The French Revolution
The emergence of democracy in France was one of the most radical, turbulent and influential periods in European history. Not only this, but historical debate surrounding the events in France of 1789-1830 involves scholarly clashes between major historical schools of thought. Marxist historians have dominated the analysis of the Ancien Regime, competing with ideas-based analysis of the French Enlightenment in explaining the outbreak of the revolution. Often overlooked is the seemingly superficial theory that the French revolution was started by a diamond necklace, showing the importance of the incidental and the trivial in historical analysis. We shall also examine the trend of revolution in Europe from 1788-1791, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789 and the antics of Montagnards, Gerondins and Jacobins. The ‘obscure and isolated’ Robespierre will feature in our studies, as well as the larger-than-life Napoleon Bonaparte. We shall examine the French Empire, the British reaction to Napoleon and the restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy 1814-1815, before going on to investigate the revolution of July 1830.
This course is ideal for those with a curiosity about the nature of revolution, the driving forces behind historical change and ideas about where our democracy comes from. Options for tailoring include the incorporation of material on the history of European art from the period, specifically focusing on Enlightenment and revolutionary art. You may also wish to combine this course with our interdisciplinary course, How to Take Over the World, in which you will learn the secrets of revolution, empire, puppetry and propaganda. We also recommend looking at our French Politics and Political Ideas courses. Your tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities, including politics and the history of political thought.
American Political History
From its beginnings as thirteen colonies with a fierce sense of independence to being one of the major superpowers of the modern world, the United States of America has had a formidable political history. We shall study the War of Independence, the writing of the American Constitution, Western Expansion and the Civil War – including the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, reconstruction and the Gilded Age, the US in World War One and President Wilson’s Fourteen Points, isolationism the Second World War, the Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement. You will investigate the thrill of the Jazz Age and the Prohibition era, the iconic political leadership of Martin Luther King and the global tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
This course is ideal for those who wish to understand more about one of the world’s leading political powers. Options for tailoring include the incorporation of material from our American Politics course, in which you will be able to study the American constitution and other pioneering political events and documents in detail. You may also wish to combine this course with material from our international relations courses, which will give you a greater understanding of America’s place in world politics, or from our history of political philosophy course, which will give you an in-depth understanding of the ideas behind the American constitution. Your tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities, including politics and the history of political thought.
This course is divided into two parts: Russia Under the Tsars and Russia Under Communism. We begin by examining the emergence of the Romanov dynasty, paying particular attention to the policies, reforms and personalities of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. Important questions will be asked about how autocratic power was attained and exercised of particular interest will be opposition to Tsarism in the nineteenth century, and the scandal of Rasputin. We will go on to examine the Bolshevik Revolution and its relation to Marxist theory. Lenin’s Russia, from the Civil War and War Communism to the New Economic Policy and the use of terror, will be studied in detail. Stalin’s rise to power, the Stalinist cult, collectivisation and kulaks, the Five-Year Plans and the Yezhovschina will form the next part of the course, before we go on to examine Russia’s role in the Second World War, nuclear weapons and the Space Race. Looking at Khruhshev’s leadership, we will examine the Berlin Crisis, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Détente. Finally, we will examine the Gorbachev era, including Glasnost and the End of the USSR.
This course is ideal for those who wish to understand more about one of the world’s largest and most fascinating countries and it is possible to study each half of the course as a standalone project. Options for tailoring include the incorporation of material from our Russian Politics course, such as post-Soviet political culture, the Russian constitution and the obstacles to democratisation. You may also like to include more material covering non-European Russia, such as the history, culture and folklore of Russia and the Central Asian Republics. We also recommend looking at our course on the Cold War for context on Russia's recent international history. Your tutor has three research degrees in the history of ideas from world-class universities, including politics and the history of political thought.
This course can be taken as a historical overview of China, or its components may be studied independently as courses in themselves. We begin with an examination of the Shang Dynasty, particularly looking at astronomy and mathematics in the era. Next, we explore the life and thought of Confucius, before going on to discover the Qin Dynasty, including the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army. You will investigate the Silk Road and the invention of paper, gunpowder and the printing press. You will also examine Kublai Khan and Marco Polo, the Ming Dynasty, the Quing Dynasty, the Opium Wars and the Boxer Rebellion. Next, we will have the opportunity to study the Republic of China, the Civil War and the Second Sino-Japanese War, before going on to examine the People’s Republic of China, including the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the Deng Era.
Options for tailoring this course include the incorporation of material from our Chinese politics course to supplement your study of Chinese history. You may also wish to incorporate material from our courses on Himalayan politics, history and culture to advance your understanding of China’s minorities. Your personal tutor has four academic degrees from world-class universities, including a PhD in philosophy, two Politics degrees, a research degree in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, and fourteen years of tutoring and lecturing experience.