The First War on Terror? The French Revolution & the British Response


The Oxford Experience is a residential summer programme providing one-week courses in a variety of subjects aimed at non-specialists. It offers a choice of seminars each week over a period of six weeks.

At the start of the eighteenth century, French and British politics seemed a world apart. Britain’s relative liberalism was a beacon of light in contrast to the dark world of continental absolutism. With the outbreak of revolution in 1789, it seemed that France too was about to embrace those freedoms. Yet within three years those liberal hopes were brought crashing down when news emerged of a terrifying massacre on the streets of Paris. The repercussions of this would be immense, giving birth to a war on terrorism whose echoes continue to resonate today. These themes will form the basis of this course, as we explore the turbulent nature of the French revolution, and the British response.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, 09.15-10.45 and 11.15-12.45, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study or exploring the many beautiful places in and around the city.

Introduction and Overview: Key Issues and Themes. The French Revolution: Ancient Regime France and the causes of Revolution.

‘The Rights of Man and of the Citizen’: Liberal Constitutional Monarchy in France. ‘Forced to be Free’: The Rise and Fall of the Jacobins.

The British Response: Burke, Paine and the initial debate. ‘The British Jacobins’:  Radicalism and the Government Reaction.

‘Church and King’: Popular Loyalism in Britain. Field trip to Kew Palace. Situated in the beautiful grounds of Kew Gardens, Kew Palace was the favourite private home of King George III who used it as a refuge from the political - and familial - conflicts gripping Britain.

The Media War:  The Role of the Press and Caricaturists. Concluding thoughts: The Longer Term Impact.


Field Trip

Destination:     Kew Palace; London:

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
Programme fee (no accom–incl. field trip, lunch and dinner) £1150.00
Programme fee (with single en-suite accom, field trip and meals) £1645.00
Programme fee (with single standard accom, field trip and meals) £1460.00


Dr Kate Watson


Senior Associate Tutor, OUDCE

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Online registration closes on Friday, 1 May 2020 but please note that this course may be fully booked very quickly so early registration is recommended.


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.

The fee stated includes a bedroom with private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Most are single but a few twins are available*.

There is also a limited number of standard rooms available, which all have their own washbasin and shaver point but shared bath and toilet facilities. Most standard rooms are single but there are a few ‘twin sets’ (two single rooms opening off a sitting room)*.

*If you wish to book a twin en-suite room or a standard twin set room each person should complete an application form and email it to us at as these rooms cannot be booked online. (Forms may also be posted to us at: The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA, UK)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form) together with a note of any mobility problems. Students should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

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.


If accommodation is unavailable in a particular week, we also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.

If you wish to enrol on a non-residential basis please complete an application form and email it to us at as this option cannot be booked online. (Forms may also be posted to us at: The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA, UK)