The personalities and events of this era are rightly famous: Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the Americas in 1492, Henry VIII’s notorious marriage troubles, Elizabeth I’s reputation as the ‘Virgin Queen’, Oliver Cromwell’s leadership in the British Civil Wars, and Louis XIV’s magnificent court at Versailles. To understand why these individuals and events mattered, we will explore the dramatic changes that swept through Britain, continental Europe and the wider world over these crucial 250 years.
We will move from the fragmentation of Christianity during the Reformation, through the horrors of seventeenth-century war and revolution, to imperial expansion, the brutality of the Atlantic slave trade and the intellectual debates of the Enlightenment. Justly known as early modern, this was a formative period in Western history, as Europeans began to interact with civilisations throughout the entire world and the continent turned into a global centre of power. Men and women experienced their first media and information revolution with the birth of print, the spread of literacy, religious reform and scientific revolution; they witnessed the emergence of new state structures but also innovative attacks on established political hierarchies; the growth of a new globalised economy alongside the formation of national languages and institutions. This was the grandiose age of monarchy, with glorious courts and costumes: it was also an age of devastating war, famine, and disease.
Many of the ‘case studies’ that we will examine will be drawn from British history, but they will be firmly set in their wider European and global context. By the end of this module, you will understand how this period laid the foundations for so many things usually labelled ‘modern’: ethnic and religious diversity, civil rights and parliamentary democracy, global trade and a consumer economy, and the idea of the ‘modern world’ itself.
The course is taught via a series of lectures (from an undergraduate module) and a dedicated seminar. It may, therefore, be particularly appropriate for those considering a future transition to BA study. You will be encouraged to actively participate throughout the course.
- Princely courts
- Civil war and revolution: Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and the War of the Three Kingdoms
- Imperial expansion
- Trade and colonial societies: the Atlantic slave trade
- World empires
- Print and popular culture
- Renaissance and Scientific Revolution
- The public sphere and party politics: Whigs, Tories and the Glorious Revolution
- Enlightenment and the Crisis of the Old Order.
15 credits at level 4
We welcome a wide range of qualifications, from the UK and abroad, and we will also consider your non-academic achievements.
Most of our short courses have no formal entry requirements and are open to all students. You may have to fulfil specific prerequisites for some intermediate-level or advanced-level courses, but these will be specified where relevant.
How to apply
Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck.
How to apply
You enrol directly onto the classes you would like to take, using the Enrol Now link below. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis - so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then enrol onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.
Fees and payment
With government loans for undergraduate and postgraduate study, fantastic financial support packages and flexible payment options, there’s never been a better time to study at Birkbeck.
Life at Birkbeck
Birkbeck offers a unique combination of evening study and a matchless central London location, right in the geographic and academic centre of the city, giving you exceptional opportunities.
Discover more about our comprehensive range of student services, which offer all the support and assistance you need.
Birkbeck is committed to doing everything we can to help you finance your studies. Find out about what is available, how to apply and the advice and support we provide.
Evening study explained
Birkbeck is London’s only specialist provider of evening higher education. With classes held 6pm-9pm, your days are free to study, work, volunteer, or just do your own thing.
There are lots of ways to come and visit us and meet our staff and former students, including Open Evenings, Open Days and guided campus tours. Discover more here.
Short courses explained
Find out everything you need to know about studying a short course at Birkbeck.
The Birkbeck experience
Birkbeck is different: our classes are held in the evening, so your days are free - to study, work, volunteer or just do your own thing.
How to apply
Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck. We can give you the advice and support you need.
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