Montage of co-operativism

"Nothing truly valuable can be achieved except by the unselfish cooperation of many individuals." - Albert Einstein

At a Glance

  • Live online course
  • 2 hours a week
  • Tuesdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 5 weeks from 18 January 2022
  • Tutor: Dr Amanda Benson
  • Fees from £65 to £110
  • Imperial / Cooperative College attendance certificate (T&Cs apply)

Co-operative logo

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The co-operative movement has its roots in the Lancashire textile town of Rochdale, where, in 1844, high shop prices and the adulteration of food by private traders prompted 28 working people to band together to set up a new kind of organisation. That organisation was a co-op. 

Called the Rochdale Pioneers, this new co-op bought high quality food and sold it to its members at a price they could afford. From this (eventually!) the modern co-operative supermarket was born. 

But the co-operative movement is more than just a supermarket! In fact, for almost two centuries, in the face of poverty, inequality and crisis, the mutual-aid model promoted by the co-operative movement has offered a practical self-help option for people in need, with the model replicated across the world. An estimated one billion people across the planet are now members of a co-op!

In this short, interactive course Dr Amanda Benson will take us on a fascinating journey into the history and ideas behind the modern co-operative movement. You will discover the role that co-operatives played in the development of social movements, as progressive and radical organisations pushing for change.

From the women co-operators who played a role in the birth of the peace movement, to co-operative idealists promoting better societies by creating youth groups like the Woodcraft Folk.

As part of the course you will also explore:

·       How co-operativism aided people in the past, analysing and critiquing the model and how it’s changed from its inception to the modern day

·       Whether co-operatives still offer solutions to the challenges facing society, such as inequality and the climate emergency

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, jointly issued by Imperial College London and Cooperative College, upon completion of the course.

Course Information

Course Programme


Week 1: History and heritage of the movement

Week 2: A global movement 

Week 3: Co-ops and social/political movements 

Week 4: Co-ops and current issues

Week 5: Co-ops and the future

The programme might be subject to change. 

Additional Reading

There is no requirement to undertake specific reading for this course.

Your Tutor

AmandaDr Amanda Benson co-ordinates projects and research as well as designing and delivering training the Co-operative College. Specialising in gender, agriculture, international and community development, Amanda promotes sustainable and inclusive development both in the UK and worldwide.

Previously Amanda worked in community development in the UK, supporting adult learners through community training and mentoring. 

Course Delivery Method: Live Online (Zoom)

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.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
10  5  £110   (≡£11.00 per hour)
£65   (≡£6.50 per hour)
£85   (≡£8.50 per hour)
All fee rates quoted and due are for the whole course. Part-payments are not possible. Equivalent to hourly rate is for comparison guidance only. There is no early-bird discount for January intake courses.

Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

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

Internal Rate

  • 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)
  • Individuals enrolling under our Friends & Family scheme
  • Staff of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • 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 contact before completing the online enrolment form

Associate Rate

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

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 Terms and Conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer School
 10  5 n/a w/c 17 Jan - w/e 19 Feb 2022 (5 weeks)* n/a n/a
* This is a 5-week course starting at the beginning of the Spring term

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 5 November 2021

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 this course should be addressed to the course tutor, Amanda Benson, at