Britain and Her Army


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 focus will be more strategic than tactical and, as such, the course mirrors the development of Britain/the United Kingdom nationally and internationally.

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, or otherwise, of its political executive.

Programme details

Courses starts: 28 Sep 2022

Week 1: War and the creation of Standing Armies. 

Week 2: The New Model Army and the Age of Cromwell 1625-1689

Week 3: The Age of Marlborough 1690 -1783

Week 4: Wellington’s Redcoats and Green Jackets 1784 -1815

Week 5: Sahib and Khaki Part 1: The Colonial Wars and Imperialism 1816 – 1860

Week 6: Sahib and Khaki Part 2: The Colonial Wars and Imperialism 1861 – 1901

Week 7: The Great War – Haig and Tommy 1902-1919

Week 8: The Second World War – Montgomery and Tommy 1920 -1945

Week 9: Post 1945 – Colonial Campaigns, the Northern Ireland ‘troubles’, NATO and the Cold War 1945-1990

Week 10: Modern conflicts and the War on Terror 1990 - 2016


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course Fee £238.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Mr Nick Lipscombe

Colonel Nicolas Lipscombe MSc, FRHistS is a historian. He has written several books including; two award-winning works on the English Civil War and the Peninsular War, as well as Waterloo a Decisive Victory, Wellington’s Guns, Wellington’s Eastern Front. He is currently working on a book on Victoria’s Wars. He is a well-known tour guide and tutor at University of Oxford DCE.

Course aims

To look at the 400-year military, political and social history of Britain’s army (and coincidentally the British nation) from its inception in the wake of the English Civil War to the recent operations, in what has been termed the ‘War on Terror’. 

Course Objectives:

  1. To consider the (evolving) understanding of warfare and the role of a land army within a democratically elected, modern nation state.
  2. To examine, in a series of vignettes, the evolution and history of Britain and her Army from the mid-seventeenth century to the present day.
  3. To investigate, in a series of vignettes, the military, technological, political and societal changes over the period that have impacted on the army and the way it operates.

Teaching methods

The weekly two-hour sessions will consist of an initial lecture (supported by PowerPoint presentation) to cover the key aspects of the week’s topic interspersed by syndicate/group discussion of a key/related theme(s) in order to gauge group and/or individual viewpoints. At the end of each week students will be given some background reading for the following week, as well as direction for further reading and encouragement to use the department’s library resources in order to broaden their knowledge and understanding through self-study. 

Prior to the course students will receive a handout to assist them in assimilating the information that will be delivered during the weekly lecture.  At the end of each week students will be given some background reading for the following week, as well as direction for further reading

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

  • Have an outline understanding of the changing nature of warfare and the role of an army in a developing and modern State.
  • Have a good understanding of the history, achievements and challenges to Britain and her Army and the many wars, campaigns, battles and commitments it has been involved in over 400 years.
  • Demonstrate an ability to identify, analyse and evaluate a variety of (primary and secondary) sources and, from that process, be able to express their views in a group environment and in written form.

Assessment methods

Assessment of learning will take place through classroom discussion and the evaluation and marking of a written assignment (1500 words) submitted sometime after half the seminars have been completed and the end of the course. The title for the essay/book review/written exercises will be chosen from a list supplied by the tutor, or by individual agreement between the student and tutor.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

The student requires no prior knowledge of warfare or the history of the British army.  However, some reading around the subject, prior to the course, will enhance the student’s learning outcome and the ability to participate in course discussion.  Five books for preparatory reading have been suggested. 

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)