Detail of painting, Rain, Wind and Speed by Turner

"I feel very much at home in the early nineteenth century and am not inclined to leave it."  - Susanna Clarke (novelist)

Information at a Glance

  • Live online course
  • 2 hours a week
  • Thursdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 10 weeks: October to December
  • Tutor: Dr Sheila Lecoeur
  • Fees from £110 to £205
  • Imperial College Attendance Certificate (T&Cs apply)
Booking link


19th century had a huge impact on everyday life and was a defining epoch in European history. Revolutions in industry, politics and society changed the world and placed Europe at the forefront of this transformation. The aim of this course will be to try and make the connections between these momentous events and understand what they mean for us today. We will explore and discuss the most interesting aspects of life in nineteenth-century Europe and students will be encouraged to participate as much as possible in class debates.

The context for this overview of the century will be the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, events which reverberated throughout the rest of the century. We will explore some of the political philosophies which contributed to this period of upheaval in Europe, and their impact on the revolutions of 1830 and 1848. The birth of liberalism and socialism will be discussed in the context of the rising new social classes and social reform.

Looking at the growth of imperialism and nationalism as well as the establishment of the major European nations will help us understand this period; this will include the reasons behind the rise and eventual fall of Europe’s global empires leading to World War I.

Focussing on Britain we will explore changes to the new industrial economy, rural and city life, and the impact this had on society and welfare. A survey of Victorian Britain will include the arts and culture of this period.

The 19th century is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating and exciting periods of history and by drawing on a wide range of material, we will discover the long shadow it still casts over the world today.

Online Access to Course

This is a taught live online course which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time on a specific day of the week. To take part in the course you will need a suitably equipped and internet-enabled device. Please find full details and instructions below under 'Course Delivery'.

Attendance certificate

Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.

Course Information

Course Programme

Session 1

The impact of the French Revolution and Napoleon’s legacy.

Session 2

The reasons for the ‘take of’ of the Industrial Revolution in Britain and the specific circumstances which made this possible.

Session 3

The restoration of the monarchies of Europe, the Congress System and the failure to turn back the clock and destroy the political and institutional transformations brought by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic period.

Session 4

Social unrest, Chartism and protest in Britain, and the revolutions in Europe of 1830-1848. The Communist Manifesto and role of Karl Marx.

Session 5

The establishment of nation states, constitutions and the rise of Nationalism. The unification of Germany and Italy.

Session 6

European Imperialism and the weakening of the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires.

Session 7

The impact of industrialisation, poverty and social reform.  Radicalisation, Socialism, and the working class.

Session 8

Victorian Britain: society, art and culture

Session 9

Summing up the nineteenth century and the transformation of Europe.

This programme is provisional and might be subject to change.

Additional Reading

There is no requirement to undertake specific reading for this course, but your tutor might recommend you look at specific texts during the course.

For general information you might want to look at:

  • The Pursuit of Power. Europe 1815- 1914 by Richard J. Evans
  • The Age of Revolution 1789-1848. The Age of Capital 1848-1875. The Age of Empire 1875-1914.  All by Eric Hobsbawm
  • The birth of the Modern World 1780-1914 by Christopher Bayly
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern Europe by Timothy Blanning (ed.)

 Other shorter books and articles will be suggested during the course but specific sections of the above books will also be recommended. You are not expected to read the whole book!

Your Tutor

Photograph of Sheila LecoeurDr Sheila Lecoeur has specialised in Italian studies and is currently Coordinator of Italian in the Centre for Languages, Communication and Culture. Sheila is also a social historian of Europe in the 20th century, with a particular interest in the history of fascism and the Second World War. Sheila has engaged in historical research and has produced a documentary film about Greece in World War II for television. Her book on the Italian occupation of Greece, ‘Mussolini’s Greek island’, has also been translated into Greek. She is currently working on a second documentary film on the present crisis in Greece.

Course Delivery

All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you must be able to attend the online session at the time stated for the course description.

All times stated are British Standard Time.

To take part you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.


This course will use Zoom as its online delivery method. Zoom is very easy to use and you do not need to set up a Zoom account to use it. Near the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a web address (or URL) that will allow you to access the course. This is called the Course Link. All you need do is click on the Course Link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class.

Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.

We have also produced a Handy Guide to Zoom [pdf] which gives you basic information on how to use it.

All courses lasting two hours have a 10 minute break in the middle.  For one hour courses there is no break.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 20  10  £205    (Early Bird Rate: £185*)
£120    (Early Bird Rate: £110*) £160    (Early Bird Rate: £145*) 
* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October

Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Applies to current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors).
  • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should email evening before completing the online enrolment form.

Associate Rate

  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • South London Botanical Institute Members
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Santander Bank staff (Imperial College Walkway branch only)
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read the  before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer School
 20  10 12 Oct - 18 Dec 2020 (10 weeks)* n/a n/a n/a
* This is a 1-term course

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 15 August

Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
  • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
  • The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
  • The following email notifications are sent:
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
  • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working daysPlease treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-confirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms the day and time of your course
3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Any Questions?

Questions regarding the content and teaching of the above course should be addressed to the tutor, Dr Sheila Lecoeur,

If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.