Wellington: Soldier, Statesman and Snob


In 1784 Wellington’s Mother despaired of her “ugly boy”, withdrew him from Eton and suggested he was “only fit for the army”. He went on to become (arguably) the greatest general Britain has ever produced, eventually defeating Napoleon at the decisive Battle of Waterloo. Feted and loaded with material honours, he then chose to become a 'Westminster Warrior'. During violent and difficult times, he held a number of public offices before becoming Prime Minister at the head of a post-war nation expecting and demanding every variety of reform. On his death in 1852 Queen Victoria praised Wellington as “the greatest man this country has ever produced”.

But was he really?

Programme details

Course starts: 27 Sep 2023

Please note: There will be no class on Wednesday 25th October.

Week 1: Britain at the end of the 18th Century.

Week 2: Wellington's Early Life and Service in India - Cutting his Teeth.

Week 3: Wellington in Iberia - Honing his Trade.

Week 4: Wellington at Waterloo - His Greatest Triumph.

Week 5: Wellington's Two Front War - Napoleon and Whitehall.

Week 6: Wellington the Statesman - to Great Reform.

Week 7:  Wellington the Statesman - the Young Queen.

Week 8: Wellington the Ladies Man.  

Week 9: Wellington, the Grand Old Man and Funeral

Week 10: Wellington's Legacy.


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 the January 1st after the current full 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.


Description Costs
Course Fee £257.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:

Concessionary fees for short courses


Mr Nick Lipscombe

Colonel Nicolas Lipscombe MSc, FRHistS is a historian. He has written several books including; two award-winning works on the English Civil War and the Peninsular War, as well as Waterloo a Decisive Victory, Wellington’s Guns, Wellington’s Eastern Front. He is currently working on a book on Victoria’s Wars. He is a well-known tour guide and tutor at University of Oxford DCE.

Course aims

To look in detail at the life of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, his military and political career and his personal life and to conclude with a consideration of his legacy.

Course objectives:

  • To examine the British nation at the end of the 18th century and the development socially, politically and economically in the first half of the 19th Century.
  • To examine Wellington's military career and how the nation's strategic plans shaped his early career and how his subsequent victories then helped shape national policy.
  • To examine his political career as a statesman, from being Commander of the Armies of Occupation in France after Waterloo, through appointments in the Horse Guards and House of Lords and two stints as Prime Minister.
  • To examine Wellington the Man; his home life, and his numerous purported relationships with many of the well-known women of Georgian society. 

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 interspersed by syndicate/group discussion of a key/related theme(s) in order 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:

  • have a reasonable understanding of the state of affairs in Britain/Europe in the 18th Century and a good understanding of Britain in the first half of the 19th Century.
  • have a good understanding of the life of Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington and his legacy.
  • 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 - Declaration of Authorship 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 enrolment form (Word) or enrolment form (Pdf).

Level and demands

No prior knowledge of the subject is required.  There are, however, many good biographies on Wellington and numerous histories on his military battles and political challenges.  Some prior reading of one or more of these would benefit the student in terms of learning and class discussion.

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)