Civil War and Revolution: Britain Divided, 1640-1660 (Online)


The Civil Wars which swept across the British Isles in the seventeenth century left few lives untouched. For many it was 'a world turned upside down as fathers fought sons, and brother killed brother. We will explore the causes, conduct and significance of the English Civil Wars.

Listen to Dr Andrew Lacey talking about the course:

On 30th January 1649, Charles I, the king of England, was executed outside his palace of Whitehall after a public trial. We will look at the series of events which led to this revolutionary act: from the 'personal rule of the king in the 1630s and the opposition this provoked, through the calling of 'the 'Long Parliament' in November 1640 and the country''s gradual slide into civil war.

We will examine the war itself in some detail, including the rise to prominence of Oliver Cromwell, before moving on to look at the search for settlement and the second Civil War which, in turn, provides the background for the trial and execution of the king.

Along the way we will pause to consider radical religion and the political ideas of the Levellers and Diggers. With the king dead, England embarked upon eleven years of republican constitutional experiment - which included the five year rule of Cromwell as Lord Protector.

We will end by discussing why, within two years of Cromwell's death, England had restored the monarchy.

For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.

Programme details

1. Countdown to war 1625-1640

  • The European context
  • Charles I and Parliament 1625-29
  • The personal rule 1629-38
  • The Bishops' Wars 1638-40

2. The rise of the Royalists 1640-42

  • Why did Charles I summon Parliament in 1640?
  • The first session of the Long Parliament
  • Unrest in the country
  • The second session of the Long Parliament: taking sides

3. The War in the Three Kingdoms 1642-46

  •  Army organisation and tactics
  • The period of Royalist success
  • Parliament fights back
  • Cromwell and the New Model Army

4. The search for settlement 1646-48

  • The players in the game
  • The role of the Army
  • The Parliamentary attack on 'merrie England'

5. The world turned upside down I  religious radicalism

  • The Puritan impulse
  • The rise of the Independents
  • Sects, prophets and witches

6. The world turned upside down II  political radicalism

  • The New Model Army and political radicalism
  • John Lilburne and the Levellers
  • Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers

7. 1648: return of the sword

  • Why did the Scots change sides?
  • Revolts, sieges and battles
  • Pro-king or anti-Parliament?

8. Regicide 1649

  • Charles I: 'that man of blood'
  • The Army coup and the trial of the king
  • Creating a martyr

9. A Free Republic? : the Commonwealth and Protectorate 1649-58

  • Securing the Commonwealth: Cromwell in Ireland and Scotland
  • The fall of the Commonwealth
  • Lord Protector Cromwell: king in all but name?
  • Plots, resistance and conspirators

10. Restoration 1658-1662

  • The fall of the Republic
  • The restoration of the old regime
  • What was the long-term significance of the English Civil War?


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.

See more information on CATS point

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. 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.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting the final course assignment. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.


Description Costs
Course Fee £324.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Dr Andrew Lacey

Andrew Lacey holds a doctorate for work on King Charles I and has been teaching in adult education for over 25 years. Currently, he is a Tutor for the Continuing Education departments at both the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford and his historical interests range from the English Civil War to 19th and 20th century British and European history.

Course aims

Provide a comprehensive introduction to the general narrative of events known as the English Civil War between 1625 - 1662, the personalities and issues involved and some of the long-term consequences of the conflict.

Course Objectives

  • To provide a narrative of the English Civil War.
  • To introduce the key personalities in the conflict and their significance.
  • To discuss some of the major political and religious ideas of the period.
  • To discuss some of the long-term significance of the conflict.

Teaching methods

  • Guided reading of contemporary document extracts.
  • Set questions on document extracts.
  • Use of visual imagery.
  • Discussion sessions.
  • Creating a glossary of religious terms and sects.
  • Maps.
  • Case studies of relevant incidents, events and personalities.

Learning outcomes

As a result of taking this course students should be able to:

1. Understand the significance of the key events and personalities involved in the conflict.

2. Engage with the issues over which the Civil War was fought and evaluate the significance of the religious and political ideas generated by the War.

3. Compare, evaluate and interpret contemporary sources (whether written or visual) as evidence and learn how to deploy such evidence in support of their own ideas.

4. Demonstrate some understanding of the long-term significance of the English Civil War

Assessment methods

You will be set two pieces of work for the course. The first of 500 words is due halfway through your course. This does not count towards your final outcome but preparing for it, and the feedback you are given, will help you prepare for your assessed piece of work of 1,500 words due at the end of the course. The assessed work is marked pass or fail.

English Language Requirements

We do not insist that applicants hold an English language certification, but warn that they may be at a disadvantage if their language skills are not of a comparable level to those qualifications listed on our website. If you are confident in your proficiency, please feel free to enrol. For more information regarding English language requirements please follow this link:


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

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.