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University offers free course on Richard III’s England

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University offers free course on Richard III’s England

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Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Education

A new course offered for free by the University of Leicester in association with FutureLearn builds a picture of the England that Richard III inhabited in the 15th century—and comes from the scholars in archaeology, history and literature who helped uncover the monarch.

Over 10,000 people signed up to the first release of the course, and interest in the course has been so high that similar numbers are expected for the second release.

The course, which is already fully booked, will explore a time that saw huge upheavals, including savage dynastic warfare, shifting allegiances among a powerful aristocracy, and significant depopulation. Students will also learn about how workers become more prosperous as wages rose, and how introduction of printing transformed access to literacy and books.

The six week course, starting on the 25th of November, will cover a different feature of Richard III’s England each week, including:

  • The Wars of the Roses and medieval warfare
  • The lives of farmers and peasants
  • Books, literacy and the arrival of print
  • Death and commemoration
  • Medieval food
  • How historians and archaeologists wove together the story of Richard III’s journey to Bosworth and burial in Leicester.

They are no entry requirements, but the course will be taught by leading academics in the field. It will entail about two hours of study a week.

“We think we’ve developed a course that will really enhance your interest and understanding of the period,” said Deirdre O’ Sullivan, Lecturer in Medieval Archaeology in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History. “As well as the way in which scholars go about identifying the questions that need to answered and bringing evidence to bear on them. There are many controversies about the period and we hope that by the end of the course you will armed with enough knowledge to formulate your own views of the credibility, or otherwise, of some of the theories around.”

The course is a MOOC—a Massive Open Online Course, delivered online to enable anyone to enjoy learning—wherever they are, and whether they are enrolled at university or not. They are offered in association with Futurelearn, which is owned by the Open University and currently launched in beta form.

FutureLearn, set up in December 2012, offers free MOOCs in partnership with 23 UK universities and three international institutions, along with the British Museum, British Library and British Council.

This MOOC is the first such course offered at the University.

“At Leicester we’ve got a lot of experience in delivering distance learning courses”, said Deirdre O’Sullivan, “We run a full set of programmes at master’s and undergraduate level, and we’ve been doing this for a long time, so we think we understand the needs of distance learning students.”

Please note that all places are currently filled on this release of the course. Applications for the next release are open; the next course will start in midsummer 2014.

  • The Dig for Richard III was led by the University of Leicester, working with Leicester City Council and in association with the Richard III Society.  The originator of the Search project was Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society.

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