Country Houses and the British Empire: How Imperialism Transformed Britain’s Colonial Countryside, 6 weeks

Course information

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Explore the fascinating histories of Britain’s colonial houses and their links to the British Empire.

Course description

Course description

Gain insights into the British Empire’s reach by examining its colonial houses

The British country house has always been part of the nation’s heritage, but the latest historical research suggests that it is even more than that. Colonial houses have deep, complex interrelations with the British Empire itself.

If you’d like to understand exactly how country houses were connected to the wider world and were considered ‘global’ rather than simply ‘British’, this six-week course from the University of Leicester is for you.

Discover the links between colonial houses and imperial history

This course takes a new look at the roots and reach of the British Empire; it focuses on the typical country house and the objects it contains.

Examining these objects will give you a unique understanding of the connections that recent historical research has found between Britain’s empire and its colonial homes. Ultimately, you’ll see how Britain influenced and was influenced by the countries that it colonised.

Delve deeper into the effects of British colonialism

The effects of British Imperialism were felt by the people who lived in the former colonies, and by those who were brought to or born in 17th- and 18th-century rural Britain.

On this course, you’ll get a chance to unpack the political, social, and cultural effects of British imperialism. In so doing, you’ll be able to understand and participate in important reparative history efforts.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

There are no entry requirements for the current range of MOOCs available from the University of Leicester. You simply need an internet connection and a computer or tablet device. Some other courses may specify expected levels of understanding or experience in certain areas but this will be made clear before signing up for the course.

This course is designed for anyone interested in British history, especially the sociocultural reach and influence of the British Empire. Heritage professionals, writers, and teachers will find it especially engaging.

English Language Requirements

There are no specific English language requirements for our MOOCs. However, to get the most out of this course you should have a reasonable command of written English.

Fees and funding

Fees and funding

UK and EU Students

Enjoy this course for free - there are no fees for any of our MOOCs.

International Students

Enjoy this course for free - there are no fees for any of our MOOCs.

Related courses

Related courses

Our research

Our research

Course structure

Week 1 – Introduction to British country houses’ connections with empire

Week 1 – Introduction to British country houses’ connections with empire

Introducing country houses and a timeline of events in Britain’s colonial past. In historic houses, colonialism is often most conspicuously represented by the goods which were acquired from or were tied to activities across the empire.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 2 – Transatlantic slavery, the British slavery business and its impact on British country houses

Week 2 – Transatlantic slavery, the British slavery business and its impact on British country houses

Many of the legacies of transatlantic slavery can be found in historic houses, with Penrhyn Castle in Bangor, Wales perhaps the most well-known National Trust property with links to transatlantic slavery.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 3 – The Atlantic World: Commodities and goods and their continual presence in country houses

Week 3 – The Atlantic World: Commodities and goods and their continual presence in country houses

How enslaved labour was used to produce goods for a European market, in particular the colonial significance of sugar, mahogany and cotton.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 4 – The relation between Britain and India, including the East India Company and the British Raj

Week 4 – The relation between Britain and India, including the East India Company and the British Raj

Britain’s colonial activities in the Indian subcontinent, focusing on the East India Company, the British Raj and British power and influence in India.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 5 – African and Indian people in rural Britain and their presence in British country houses

Week 5 – African and Indian people in rural Britain and their presence in British country houses

Study archival evidence of African and Indian people on country estates in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England, and how their presence might be researched, explored and represented at historic houses today.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 6 – Presenting histories of empire in British country houses

Week 6 – Presenting histories of empire in British country houses

How the Arts are one means of restoring dignity to those who never got to record and convey their own experiences of what happened to them.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Teaching and learning

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

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Course Country Houses and the British Empire: How Imperialism Transformed Britain’s Colonial Countryside Duration 6 weeks Availability Apply Now