Course Summary

British Society in the Early 18th Century

Unit 1 - A Developing Society

This course looks at British society at a key point in its history in the very early stages of its transformation from a rural, mainly agricultural, society into the world’s first industrialised one. What was life like then? What were the main social groupings? What was going on in Britain that would soon trigger a great growth in technology, science and industry? What was so special about Britain that it first occurred there? As you go through this course, keep these questions in the back of your mind and see what answers emerge. Unit 1 sets the scene and looks at the class system as the 17th century turns into the 18th.

Unit 2 - Up and Down

In this unit we look at opportunities to move up in society in the later 17th and early 18th centuries, before turning our attention to the new social groups that were emerging. We also take a look at domestic service and at the poor. This is followed by an examination of  the geographical divisions in the British Isles and at the countries that it comprised.

Unit 3 - Earning a Living

This unit looks at economic life in the early 18th century, staring with the contrasting economic systems existing side by side. This leads into industry, business and finance followed by the agricultural developments which paved the way for a radical transformation in the way in which the British earned their living. This would be copied by and would, in turn, transform the rest of the world.

Unit 4 - In the Home

We turn our attention to the domestic sphere of families and homes. Home life had changed considerably since medieval times and we illustrate this with a look at the increasing popularity of privacy which is reflected in bedrooms and sleeping arrangements.

Unit 5 - Women in the Late 17th and Early 18th Centuries

This unit looks at the position of women. In the early 18th century women were defined by their marital status so we begin with marriage. The treatment of children at the time is briefly addressed at the end of the unit.

Unit 6 - Lifestyle and Learning

In the final last unit of the course where we look at some further aspects of lifestyle in the period. It will include some comments on the fashions of the period followed by a look at city life. There is also an overview of educational provision by the 18th century. The course comes to a close with some general conclusions about the preparedness of Britain for the next great leap forward in its history.