Exploring the Victorian Age

Course summary

  • Mon 22 Jan 2018 to Mon 26 Mar 2018
  • 7:30-9:30pm 10 meetings
  • Ewert House, Ewert Place, Oxford, OX2 7DD
  • From £199.00
  • 10 CATS points
  • Course code O17P525LHW
  • ppweekly@conted.ox.ac.uk
  • +44 (0)1865 280892
  • Course cancelled

Exploring the Victorian Age


The Victorian period was hugely important in shaping Britain as we know it. This course goes on a voyage of discovery to explore how society and everyday life developed during this era of rapid and immense change. Not only was the domestic landscape transformed by the twin forces of industrialisation and urbanisation, but the nation forged the largest international empire the world had ever seen. Yet despite the country's economic might, it was also an age of stark contrasts. Whilst many important reforms were introduced, poverty, squalor and crime were all persistent. Furthermore, people's lives remained heavily defined by class distinctions and religious convictions.

This course will explore many facets of the Victorian age and will show not only how the major changes impacted society and the lives of Britons, but also how some of the prevailing attitudes shifted over time.

Programme details

Term Starts:   22nd January     

Week 1: Setting the scene and meeting the Queen

Week 2: Economy, labour and consumerism

Week 3: Leisure, sport and the Great Exhibition

Week 4: Party politics, class and social radicalism

Week 5: Education, literature and the arts

Week 6: Religion, morality and crime

Week 7: Science, technology and transportation

Week 8: Poverty, welfare and public health

Week 9: Women, sex and the family

Week 10: Empire, identity and restrospect


Background Reading:

Steinbach, S., Understanding the Victorians, 2nd ed. (Routledge: Abingdon, 2016)

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.

If you have enrolled on a course starting in the autumn, you can become a borrowing member of the Rewley House library from 1st September. If you are enrolled on a course starting in other terms, you can become a borrowing member once the previous term has ended.

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.

Recommended Reading List


Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes 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.

If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to do so.


Course fee: £199.00
Take this couse for CATS points: £10.00


Dr Simon Wenham

Simon Wenham tutors weekly and online courses and his historical interests include Victorian Britain, businesses, gender, Oxford, religion and leisure.

Course aims

To explore and evaluate key aspects of social history relating to the Victorian period.

Course Objectives

1. Identify and describe the main features of Victorian Britain and understand how they changed over this period.

2. Analyse and evaluate a number of the key societal values that were at the heart of Victorian society.

3. Develop a variety of historical skills by assessing primary sources and academic ideas.

Teaching methods

A range of teaching and learning methods will be used, including illustrated talks, class discussions and the reading and interpreting of documents in pairs or small groups. Students will be encouraged to follow up their own particular interests by reading more widely.

Learning outcomes

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

1. Have the ability to identify some of the major features of life in Victorian Britain and understand how the landscape changed over the course of the nineteenth century.

2. Have the ability to assess some of the key Victorian attitudes to different aspects of life.

3. Have the ability to evaluate primary sources and the views of historians.

Assessment methods

Students have to produce one short piece of work (1500 words) by the end of the course. Alternative arrangements may be possible, if agreed with the 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 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.

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

Level and demands

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)