Britain's Crusade: The Fight for Empire and National Existence 1793-1815

Course details

From £215.00
10 CATS points

02 Oct 2019 - 04 Dec 2019
Day of week

Britain's Crusade: The Fight for Empire and National Existence 1793-1815


The period 1789 to 1815 witnessed unprecedented upheaval. The French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars (or French Wars) were arguably the first global war.  Nationalism ebbed and flowed, armies and navies expanded, militarism thrived, coalitions altered and ideology, hanging by a thread to these shifting dynamics, caused unprecedented social upheaval. One nation, utterly unprepared for war but with global aspirations and interests, entered that war in February 1793 unmindful of the length of the road before her but determined to prevail.  Twenty-three years later, having fought on land and sea, across the globe, Britain emerged victorious. 

Four men stand out as the architects and executors of Britain’s victory. William Pitt the Younger and Admiral Horatio Nelson in the difficult early years and Lord Castlereagh and the Duke of Wellington during the momentous concluding years. It is an extraordinary story of political determination, diplomatic self-possession and military valour, exceptional in the nation’s history to that point. It shaped the nation’s destiny for the next one hundred years.

Programme details

Courses starts: 02 Oct 2019

Week 1: The end of the eighteenth century – Britain’s place in the world.

Week 2: Minds not stuff: William Pitt and Admiral Nelson.

Week 3: Britain and The French Revolution.

Week 4: Britain and the French Revolutionary Wars.

Week 5: The Royal Navy.

Week 6: Minds not stuff 2: Lord Castlereagh and Field Marshal Wellington.

Week 7: Britain and the Napoleonic Wars.

Week 8: Britain’s other wars – a global effort for trade and empire.

Week 9: The Congress of Vienna and the Battle of Waterloo.

Week 10: Britain in the nineteenth century.

Recommended reading

All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.

There is a Guide for Weekly Class students which will give you further information. 

Availability of titles on the reading list (below) can be checked on SOLO, the library catalogue.

If you are planning to purchase books, remember that courses with too few students enrolled will be cancelled. The Department accepts no responsibility for books bought in anticipation of a course.

Preparatory reading

  • War and Empire \ Collins B
  • British strategy in the Napoleonic War 1803-15 \ Hall C D
  • The War of Wars, The Epic Struggle between Britain and France 1789- \ Harvey, R.
  • Britain against Napoleon, The Organisation of Victory 1793-1815 \ Knight R
  • Britain and the Defeat of Napoleon 1807-1815 \ Muir, R.

Recommended Reading List


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 between January 1st and July 31st after the current 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.


Course Fee: £215.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00


Mr Nicolas Lipscombe

Colonel Nick Lipscombe MSc, FRHistS is a historian and author specialising in the Napoleonic Wars and English Civil Wars. He has written several books including the award winning Peninsular War Atlas, Waterloo a Decisive Victory, Wellington’s Guns & Wellington’s Eastern Front.

Course aims

To develop an understanding of the challenges facing Britain during the period of the French wars and how she overcame those challenges and paved the way to become the most powerful nation in the world.

Course Objectives:

  1. To examine Britain at the end of the eighteenth century and her reaction of the French revolution. 
  2. To consider the roles of four key men, Pitt, Nelson, Castlereagh and Wellington, during the period of the French wars and the peace treaties that followed.
  3. To investigate the significance of their achievements for Britain during the wars and for much of the century that followed.

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 followed by syndicate discussion of a key/related theme culminating in a group discussion 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.

Learning outcomes

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

  1. Have an outline understanding of Britain's place in the world at the end of the eighteenth and for the first half of the nineteenth century.
  2. Have a good understanding of the challenges facing Britain, politically and militarily, during the period and how the nation met those challenges, paving the way to become the most powerful nation in the world.
  3. 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.


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

No prior knowledge is required but a basic understanding of the key European (and North American) events from 1760-1860 would be hugely beneficial.

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)