Britain and Her Army 1644-2014


This course will concentrate on the evolution of Britain’s army, in tandem with global dynamics, national political leadership and societal influences.  It will also consider the army’s numerous, colourful and sometimes controversial military actions and the associated weapon and tactical/doctrinal developments over time.

The British Army is a very singular institution.  Created in the long shadow of Cromwell’s New Model Army, it does not, unlike the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, enjoy regal designation. Yet most of its regiments and corps have a royal prefix, highlighting the circumstances of its origins and the struggle between monarch and parliament for its control.  During the army’s maturity, a deep-seated constitutional antipathy and political prejudice perpetuated.  For most of its existence it has endured public hostility and is still, to this day, perceived as a potential threat to civil liberty. 

Yet the army is committed to public service.  It remains a reflection of the society that it serves and, as such, it typifies the highest and lowest characteristics of that society. It also reflects the steadfastness of its political executive.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.

We will look at the meaning of War, and the creation of Standing Armies as one of the defining characteristics of the modern nation state. Then we will consider the birth of the British army from the nucleus of Cromwell’s New Model Army covering the period 1625-1685, and their subsequent maturity and decline during the Age of Marlborough in the 18th century 1685-1783.

This session covers the tumultuous period of the French Wars 1793-1815, during which Wellington’s Redcoats progressed to become one the finest forces in the world.  In part two we will look at Britain’s army in the nation’s 19th-century (controversial) heyday – Sahib and Khaki, the colonial wars and Imperialism 1816-1902.

We will study the Great War, Haig and Tommy 1902-1919 and consider the validity of Alan Clarke’s assertion that lions were led by donkeys. Then in the second part, we will look at the difficult inter-war years and the equally challenging readjustment back to a war footing in order to fight the Second World War (1919-1945) under the capable but controversial Montgomery.

Field trip to the Royal Chelsea Hospital and the National Army Museum.

An examination of the British army in modern wars from the pains of the last of the colonial campaigns, to the emotive and trying role in Northern Ireland and finally, the army’s role in NATO and the Cold War from 1949-1990. In the final session we will look at the nation’s role and the army’s execution in, and the asymmetric nature of, the War on Terror 1990-2016.

Field trip
Destination: Chelsea Royal Hospital and the National Army Museum
Websites: and
Excursion rating: Moderate - up to two hours' walk on even ground or up to an hour's walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.


Description Costs
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals) £1725.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals) £1530.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals) £1627.50
Fee option 4 (double en suite accom and meals) £1627.50
Fee option 5 (twin set standard accom and meals) £1530.00
Fee option 6 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner) £1210.00


All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments made via non-UK credit/debit cards and bank accounts are subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking.
  • If submitting an application form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date.

Cancellations and refunds

1. Cancellation by you

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to, or by post to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid.

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2022 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2022 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2022 - no refunds will be made.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

2. Cancellation by us

OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course where there is good reason, for example, if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable. In these cases we will refund the course fees that you have already paid. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 1 May 2022. If it is likely that the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days; if you have not heard from OUDCE by 8 May 2022, you should assume that your course will be running. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

3. Travel insurance

You need to purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred.


Mr Nick Lipscombe

Colonel Nicolas Lipscombe, MSc, FRHistS, is a historian. He has written several books including, inter alia the award-winning Peninsular War Atlas, Waterloo: The Decisive Victory, Wellington’s Guns, Wellington’s Eastern Front and most recently An Atlas and History of the English Civil Wars. He is a well-known tour guide and tutor at OUDCE.

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 12 people. Elements of this teaching will normally include mini lectures and presentations by tutors and tutor-led class discussions.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Registratioin closes on 1 May 2022.

Please note: most courses fill up fast so early registration is strongly recommended.

Single accommodation and non-residential places may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at

Those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form as these rooms cannot be booked online. Completed forms should be sent:

Level and demands

The Oxford Experience is aimed at non-specialists: no prior knowledge is required, and classes are pitched at an introductory level. The courses are designed for an international audience aged 18 and over.


During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century.

Participants should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite

  • Single standard

  • Twin en suite

  • Double en suite

  • Standard ‘twin set’.

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Standard rooms have their own washbasin and shaver point but bathroom facilities are shared. ‘Twin sets’ comprise two single rooms opening off a sitting room.

Please note that only single accommodation may be booked online; those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form. (See “Application”.)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form), together with a note of any mobility problems.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.

We also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals (lunch and dinner) at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.