(HIST004) Country, Colonies and Culture: Early Modern Britain 1550-1750

Spanish armada painting


Course start date: Monday 23rd September 2024
Course end date: Friday 13th December 2024
Early Bird Price: £135

Tutor:  Lynne Thompson
Course Code: HIST004
Level: Non-accredited, non-credit bearing
Assessments/Exams: None. Throughout the course you will be given ideas and questions to respond to in the online discussion area. Participation in online discussion is encouraged, but not compulsory. In addition to this students will be given an optional assignment involving the creation of a timeline for the period, where you will be asked to select a limited number of events that you consider to be the most significant, with justifications for your choices. Students who choose to do this assignment will not receive a mark, but will receive feedback on their work.
Duration: 12 weeks
Estimated Student Study Time: 5 – 8 hours per week are recommended, but time spent is flexible and at your discretion.
Fee: £150.00
Pre-Requisites: No academic qualifications or experience of studying history are required – only an enthusiasm for this subject.
Delivery: Online Distance Learning
Late Entrants: If this course is not full by the start date then late entrants will be accepted for up to two weeks after the start of the course. As a late entrant you can choose to catch up on the material you have missed or you can skip the missed weeks and concentrate on the material at the point where you join the course, but unfortunately we cannot offer fee reductions or course extensions for late entrants.
Recommended Reading**:
Each weekly unit has its own recommended reading which will be signposted within the unit.

Required Reading**: There are no required texts for this course.

**Please note: All courses are subject to sufficient numbers of students registering before they are confirmed as running. Therefore, after booking your place you are advised not to purchase any texts until you have received confirmation that the course is running.

This course was previously taught by Lynne Thompson when it was offered by the University of Exeter*. If you studied it with the University of Exeter* you might not wish to study it again with Learn for Pleasure as although we have revised and updated our courses where necessary, it will likely be substantively the same.


The purpose of this course, and its partner course Persecutions, Populations and Politics, is to provide you with an overview of British history from the later medieval period to the eve of the industrial revolution. The courses are independent of each other and include themes and perspectives from which to appreciate the origins of modern British society, in terms of the large-scale social, economic, political, religious and cultural change experienced circa 1550-1750. This course examines debates and issues concerning (among others) how and why Britain moved from an agricultural to an industrial society; religious and political developments; and social change including family life, crime and punishment, and popular culture 1550-1750.

By the end of this course, you should have gained an awareness of historiography (what academic writers of history have said about a specific period, or topic), become accustomed to evaluating and interpreting primary source material, and understand lines of argument informed by historical concepts. If you would like, it will be possible to produce an optional written assignment and by working together in this way, you could be well on the way to achieving well-structured and clear expression in historical writing and presentation.

In sum, then, the course is intended to provide you with a taste of history, and enough knowledge and skills to proceed with confidence to other, more specialist modules later on if you wish; to help you get back to study if you are a little ‘rusty’, or to develop further your writing and reasoning skills as and if required.

Syllabus Plan

Unit 1 – The Rise of the Atlantic Economies and the Growth of Colonialism

Unit 2 – Overview of Agricultural and Industrial Developments in the 16th and 17th Centuries

Unit 3 – British Agriculture C.1750 – Revolution or Evolution?

Unit 4 – Industrial Developments to 1750

Unit 5 – Proto-Industrialisation

Unit 6 – The Transport Revolution – Canals and Turnpikes

Unit 7 – Demographic Change – Issues and Debates on Population Growth

Unit 8 – Family Life in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Unit 9 – Crime, Punishment and the Protection of Property: The Old Poor Laws

Unit 10 – Eighteenth Century Riots and Rebellions

Unit 11 – Popular Culture

Unit 12 – Overview: Historical Change and Continuity