This course has concessions available

World Of The Seventeenth Century – Europe And The Mediterranean

The course will explore the development, of human societies in Europe and the Mediterranean world from 1600 to 1650 AD, including the rise of the Netherlands as a commercial and maritime power, the Thirty Years War in the German-speaking world; the civil wars in Britain; and the first great age of political radicalism. 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.

Available Classes:

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: T. Brook, Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World.

What does this course cover

We will begin by looking at Europe and the Mediterranean world at the beginning of the 17th Century. We will go on to consider the emergence of the Protestant Netherlands as Europe's pre-eminent trading power; and at the impact of the Thirty Years War in the German-speaking lands, and of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in the British Isles. We will explore aspects of the literature, philosophy, art, and architecture of the Early Enlightenment in Europe and the Mediterranean World.

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 first half of the 17th Century AD.
' Contribute to discussions on aspects of the Dutch 'Golden Age;' the Thirty Years War; and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in Britain; including the rise of disparate Protestant sects, and early experiments in constitutional government and democracy.
' Discuss the key features of Early Enlightenment philosophy, art, and literature, in Britain, France, Italy, Northern Europe, and the Ottoman world.
' Use the knowledge gained on the course to identify aspects of Enlightenment 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 Enlightenment 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

mwc logo

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.

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.’