Waterloo - A Defining Moment in History

Course details

From £205.00
10 CATS points

03 Oct 2018 - 05 Dec 2018
Day of week

Waterloo - A Defining Moment in History


Few events in human history have had the impact of Waterloo. The battle brought to an end nearly a quarter of a century of warfare, it shattered the dreams of a man who sought to dominate Europe, and it ushered in nearly half a century of peace.

This course will examine Europe at the start of the nineteenth century and Europe’s transition from the French Revolutionary Wars to the Napoleonic Wars. We will consider those wars in the context of the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte and both Britain’s response and her role in that struggle. In greater detail the course will study the brief period of peace in 1814-15; Napoleon’s first abdication, the fractious Congress of Vienna and his escape from Elba triggering the start of the Campaign of 100 Days.

We will also look at the battles of the Waterloo Campaign from a number of different perspectives, concluding with an in-depth study of the broader consequences of Waterloo, for Europe and the wider world, in the immediate aftermath of conflict and in the longer term.

Programme details

Term Starts:   3rd October     


Week 1:          The Napoleonic Wars 1803: First Abdication 1814.

Week 2:          Europe 1814 to 1815: a brief interval of ‘peace’.

Week 3:          War is about minds not stuff: Napoleon, Wellington and Blücher.

Week 4:          Napoleonic armies, weapons and tactics.

Week 5:          The opening battles: Ligny and Quatre Bras.

Week 6:          The Battle of Waterloo.

Week 7:          An epic victory or a series of blunders?

Week 8:          The Race for Paris: Second Abdication.

Week 9:          Eyewitness accounts and recording of the battle - different national perspectives.

Week 10:        The legacy of Waterloo.


Background Reading List

Barbero, A.,The Battle, A History of the Battle of Waterloo – English Version translated by Cullen, J., (London, 2006).

Kissinger, H., A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-22.

Franklin, J., Trilogy: Waterloo 1 ~ Quatre Bras, Waterloo 2 ~ Ligny and Waterloo 3 – Mont St. Jean and Wavre (Oxford, 2015).

Lipscombe N. J., (ed.)., Waterloo, The Decisive Victory.

Rapport, M., The Napoleonic Wars – A very short introduction (OUP, 2013).

Weller, J., Wellington at Waterloo.


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 and we will try to ensure that as many titles as possible are available in the Library by the start of each term. 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


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: £205.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00


Mr Nicolas Lipscombe

CColonel Nick Lipscombe MSc, FRHistS is a historian and author specialising in the Napoleonic 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 decisiveness of the Waterloo Campaign, ending a quarter of a century of warfare and ushering in nearly half a century of peace.

Course Objectives

1)            To examine the key aspects of the Napoleonic Wars up to Napoleon’s first abdication in April 1814.  

2)            To consider the situation in 1814/early 1815, and study the Waterloo Campaign and battles in detail.

3)            To investigate the decisive consequences of the outcome of the battle for Europe, and beyond, in the nineteenth century.

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 this course students will be expected to:

1)            Have an outline understanding of the warfare at the start of the nineteenth century.

2)            Have a good understanding of the causes, campaigns, consequences and crucial characters of the Battle of Waterloo.

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 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)