This course has concessions available

The Origins Of The Renaissance World – Online

The course will explore the development, of human societies in Europe and the Mediterranean world from 1453 to 1517, including the expansion of the Ottoman Empire; the emergence of, and challenges to, Humanism in Italy, and in Northern Europe; and the opening up of new sea-routes around and across the Atlantic Ocean. Drawing on archaeological evidence, literary texts, architecture and the visual arts, the course will look at the complex and shifting relationships between the present and the past in the definition and transformation of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish cultures and identities.

Who is this course for

No prior knowledge is necessary but a good understanding of English is essential. If you wish to read before the course the following book is recommended: S. Greenblatt, The Swerve, How the Renaissance Began.

What does this course cover

We will begin by looking at the balance between Christian, Muslim, and Jewish cultures in Europe and the Mediterranean World in 1453 AD. We will go on to consider the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, including the capture of Constantinople; the origins and impact of printing; the translation and dissemination of ancient Greek texts in Italy, and in Northern Europe; and the opening up of new Maritime trade routes around the African coast, and across the Atlantic Ocean. We will explore aspects of Humanist philosophy; the renewal of interest in Classical (Greek and Roman) Civilisation; and the influence of increasing contacts between European and non-European cultures.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:
' Give an account of the history of Europe and the Mediterranean World in the late 15th and early 16th Centuries AD.
' Contribute to discussions on the philosophical, literary, and artistic consequences of the development of printing; the rediscovery, translation, and dissemination of ancient Greek texts; the expansion of the Ottoman Empire; and the opening up of new maritime trade routes.
' Discuss the key features of art and literature in England, France, Italy, Northern Europe, and the Ottoman world in the Early Renaissance.
' Use the knowledge gained on the course to identify aspects of Early Renaissance thought that continue to influence the literature, politics, and philosophy of the modern world.

What will it be like

The course will be run online using Zoom for the live class sessions and either the Moodle page for the course or some other system for the distribution of the electronic resources for the session sitting alongside this. Although there will be some adjustments that need to be made for the online version of this course, we will aim to keep the experience as close as possible to that of a face to face course taught in the Centre.
Each week there will be an informative talk using PowerPoint and group discussion of aspects of Early Renaissance history, philosophy, religion, art, and architecture. You will be encouraged to share your thoughts and ideas in a relaxed and friendly environment. Occasionally homework reading will be provided. Although this is not an accredited course leading to a formal qualification, you will be encouraged to complete a self-assessment form in which you can monitor your progress.

What else do you need to buy or do

The course will be run on Zoom, please make sure you have installed it in advance of your first class on your computer or mobile device. You can sign up for free here:

You will need a microphone (it's fine to use whatever is built into your device) and camera, so we can see you via video. You may also want to use headphones during the session.

You can participate in class sessions through the use of a computer, laptop, tablet or other similar internet enabled device. Please note that if you only have access to a smartphone, you will be able to attend the class sessions and participate in them but you will find it more difficult to benefit from the full range of materials and activities involved in the course if this is your only means of connection.

Make sure you have a small space to work in during the session and that as far as possible that you can keep this space quite and clear of interruption so that you can concentrate on what is happening in the class.

By signing up to the course you are consenting to being on camera. The content of the lesson may occasionally be recorded by the tutor for internal education and training purposes but any such recordings will not be made available to anyone outside of the Mary Ward Centre organisation without us asking you again for further permission to do so.

You are also advised to bring note-taking materials to all sessions.

What this course could lead to

You might consider enrolling on other history/history of art/literature/philosophy courses run by the Centre.

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I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student


This course has concessions available for people who meet certain criteria

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

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Why choose Mary Ward?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening and weekends to suit your timetable. You can learn face to face at one of our centres (Bloomsbury or Waterloo) or take an online course

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’