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An Introduction to the Middle Ages


  • Session: 8 evening sessions
  • Dates: Thursdays 2 May – 20 June 2024
  • Times: 6-8pm
  • Enrolment fee: $400

The Middle Ages are a fascinating period in our history because, more than any other era, they present us with a mixture of the familiar and the bizarre.  On the one hand, we see beliefs and behaviours in the Middle Ages that seem utterly alien to us, such as the persecution of heretics.  Yet, on the other hand, so many things emerged in the Middle Ages that we recognise as being part of ourselves and the modern world, including universities, nation-states, banks and bureaucracies, and even the idea of romantic love.

Join us in this course as we not only learn about this complex and dynamic historical period but also gain a new perspective on ourselves and our world.

Course outline

Understanding the Middle Ages

What are the Middle Ages? How do we think about the Middle Ages? Can we understand them? Why have attitudes towards the Middle Ages changed so much and so often during succeeding eras? How did medieval people think about themselves and their place in history? Did ancient Greece and Rome influence medieval culture?

Emperors and popes 1

The Emperor Charlemagne and the Carolingian Renaissance. The rise of the Franks. Does the reign of Charlemagne represent the end of the Dark Ages? Why did his servant Einhard write a biography of Charlemagne and why is it important?

Emperors and popes 2

Monastic reform and the rise of the papacy. The Investiture Controversy. Pope Innocent III and the emperor Fredrick II. Why were the pope and the emperor so often enemies?

Medieval religiosity and monks and autobiographies

Gilbert of Nogent and St Anselm of Canterbury. Gilbertês de Sua Vida is the first autobiography in western literature. Why did he write it? Why was it written then and not during another era?

From Epic to Romance

King Arthur and the quest for the Holy Grail. Courtly Love and The Romance of the Rose. Medieval attitudes towards women. Orality, literacy, and the question of a Twelfth-Century Renaissance. Why and how did universities emerge during the Middle Ages and what did they teach?

Sacred and profane literature

The demise of Latin and the rise of vernacular literature. Dante and Chaucer. Why have some medieval works become fixtures in the western literary canon, and others not? Medieval spiritualism from St Francis and Catherine of Siena to Meister Eckhardt.

Internal and external enemies

Heresy and the Albigensian Crusade. Why were there heretics, and what was heresy anyway? What was it about heresy that provoked so much fear and animosity? How did medieval people understand the plague? What were the social and cultural effects of the Black Death?

The Waning of the Middle Ages

When did the Middle Ages end? Did they? What do our attitudes towards the Middle Ages tell us about ourselves and our time?

Who should enrol

This course is for those interested in western history and culture in general, and those who would like to know more about the Middle Ages in particular.  The course is also designed as a foundation for other relevant CCE courses such as The Medieval Crusades, Medieval Literature and Thought, and The History of Christianity.

Introduction to English Literature


  • Session: 6 evening sessions
  • Dates: Thursdays 9 May – 13 June 2024
  • Times: 6-8pm
  • Enrolment fee: $300

This course is a blend of English Studies, Literary Studies, and History. Throughout the course, we’ll delve into the history of English literature, exploring not only its evolution but also the texts, works, writers, ideas, themes, and fundamental concepts of English writing. Our journey will encompass fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, and various other forms of literature composed in the English language. We’ll embark on an exploration of English literature by immersing ourselves in the works of several eminent writers from the annals of English writing – from Anglo-Saxon writers to Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Defoe, Byron, Shelley, Blake, Austen, the Brontë sisters, Woolf, Dickens, Greene, Auden, and Orwell. Our focus will be on understanding how these individual writers and their works contributed to the overall development of English literature, as well as their intricate connections to English society and history.

As for the course outline, it serves as an introductory journey into English Literature, tailored for students intrigued by the ideas, themes, history, and development of English writing. Throughout the course, we will traverse all the major periods of English literature, starting from the inception of the English language to the contemporary era. It’s designed primarily for those of us who harbor a passion for reading English Literature and aspire to sharpen our skills in comprehending the primary texts, prominent figures, historical context, and foundational ideas within English writing.

Course outline

  • Session 1: Anglo-Saxon Literature
  • Session 2: Medieval English Literature
  • Session 3: Early Modern English Literature
  • Session 4: Eighteenth-Century English Literature
  • Session 5: Nineteenth-Century English Literature
  • Session 6: Twentieth-Century English Literature

The course serves as an introduction to English literature, therefore it is recommended that students acquaint themselves with key texts of classical English literature. A bibliography will be provided. Specifically, students should consider the following set texts:

  • Beowulf (700-1000 CE)
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (1400 CE)
  • William Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 2 (1596-1599)
  • William Shakespeare, The Tempest (1610-1611)
  • John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667/1674)
  • Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719)
  • Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)
  • Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (1811)
  • Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (1847)
  • Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights (1847)
  • William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience (1789-1794)
  • Lord Byron, Don Juan (1819-1824)
  • Percy Shelley, The Masque of Anarchy (1819)
  • Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927)
  • Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (1860-1861)
  • Graham Greene, Brighton Rock (1938)
  • W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939 (1939)
  • George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Learning outcomes

  • Gain an introductory understanding of English literature.
  • Acquire a basic grasp of the history of English literature, spanning from 450 CE to the present.
  • Identify key connections between English literature and British society.
  • Critically evaluate the themes and ideas present in English literature, and its significance in British and international society.
  • Develop skills for rigorous, analytical, and critical thinking about English literature and the prescribed texts discussed in the course, ranging from Anglo-Saxon literature to contemporary works.
  • Cultivate an interest in the pivotal writers, texts, and genres of English literature.
  • Develop an understanding of the importance of history and society in shaping English literature.

Who should enrol

This course is suitable for individuals interested in delving into English literature from 450 CE to the present.

Heritage Under Fire: Introduction to the Destruction and Protection of Cultural and Archaeological Heritage in Conflict Zones


  • Session: 8 evening sessions
  • Dates: Thursdays 2 May – 20 June 2024
  • Times: 6-8pm
  • Enrolment fee: $400

Using historical and contemporary case studies, this introductory course will consider key issues relevant to the destruction and protection of cultural heritage and archaeological sites in conflict zones, with a specific focus on the history, archaeology, heritage and political environment affecting nations in conflict. This course will discuss: the history, archaeology, heritage and political environment affecting nations in conflict; the difficulties associated with the implementation of extant treaties and conventions; the challenges of enacting them as a means to protect cultural heritage, and the difficulties associated with the prosecution of individuals and groups (such as Islamic State) for the looting, illegal exploitation and trafficking of antiquities. The course will also consider the growing global expectation that military forces deployed in areas of conflict, expand their responsibilities to undertake cultural and archaeological heritage site protection on the battlefield. In addition, the course will highlight that the challenges of cultural and archaeological heritage protection in conflict zones is a global problem requiring a global response.

Course outline

  • Session 1: Introduction to Cultural and Archaeological Heritage – A Global Perspective
  • Session 2: Historical and Contemporary Cultural Property Protection (CPP) and Foreign Military Forces
  • Session 3: Contemporary Case Study – Iraq
  • Session 4: Contemporary Case Study – Afghanistan
  • Session 5: Contemporary Case Study – Syria
  • Session 6: Contemporary Case Study – Russia and Ukraine
  • Session 7: Looting, Illegal Exploitation, Trafficking and Repatriation of Antiquities 
  • Session 8: Current and Future Challenges for CPP – A Global Problem requiring a Global Response

Learning outcomes

At the completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Have an introductory understanding of key terms and concepts relating to cultural and archaeological heritage
  • Have a basic understanding of key issues relevant to cultural and archaeological heritage in conflict zones
  • Identify some of the key challenges in cultural and archaeological heritage conservation, preservation and protection faced by nations in conflict
  • Have a basic understanding of the role of UNESCO, statutory frameworks, heritage management and practices including ethical responsibilities facing nations and foreign forces
  • Develop some understanding of the politics and national and international heritage agencies and what this can mean in times of conflict
  • Develop some understanding of the associated dilemmas such as looting, illegal exploitation, trafficking of antiquities, and repatriation of antiquities

Modern and Contemporary Philosophy


  • Session: 8 evening sessions
  • Dates: 24 July – 11 September 2024
  • Times: 6-8pm
  • Enrolment fee: $400

In this course, we will delve into the complexities of post-modernism, dissecting its origins and implications. From the transition from pre-modern to modern philosophies to the emergence of post-structuralism, each topic will illuminate key figures and concepts shaping contemporary thought.

Course outline

  • Session 1: Pre-Modern and Modern Philosophical Approaches
  • Session 2: The Intersection of Romanticism and Modernity
  • Session 3: Hegel and Schopenhauer: Philosophical Evolution
  • Session 4: Nietzsche’s Influence on Art and Culture
  • Session 5: Heidegger’s Existentialist Insights
  • Session 6: Transition from Structuralism to Post-Structuralism
  • Session 7: Foucault’s Examination of History and Power
  • Session 8: Derrida’s Deconstruction of Language and Meaning

Learning Outcomes

By the conclusion of this course, participants should:

  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of the evolution of Western philosophy.
  • Analyze the major themes and issues shaping contemporary thought.
  • Critically assess the impact of post-modernism on various disciplines.

Who should enrol

Individuals intrigued by philosophy and eager to comprehend the intricate shifts in philosophical paradigms. Whether a novice or an enthusiast, all are encouraged to enroll and broaden their intellectual horizons.

Philosophy: Ethics


  • Session: 8 evening sessions
  • Dates: Wednesdays 1 May – 19 June 2024
  • Times: 6-8pm
  • Enrolment fee: $400

Ethics holds a paramount position in philosophy, profoundly impacting our daily lives. This course delves into the major approaches to ethics in Western philosophy while encouraging participants to refine and reassess their own ethical stances.

Course outline

  • Session 1: Kinds of ethics. Establishing right and wrong.
  • Session 2: Ethics in history.  Plato, Aristotle, and the idea of the Good.
  • Session 3: Changing understandings of human nature and natural law.
  • Session 4: Modern ethics (i): Bentham and consequences.
  • Session 5: Modern ethics (ii): Kant and moral duty.
  • Session 6: Modern ethics (iii): Peter Singer.
  • Session 7: Postmodernism, deconstruction, and Feminist Ethics.
  • Session 8: Beyond deconstruction? Virtue Ethics.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of this course, participants should:

  • Possess familiarity with the major ethical approaches in Western philosophy.
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyze and reassess their own ethical decision-making processes.

Who Should Enrol

Individuals with an interest in ethical questions.

Pop Music: History and Philosophy


  • Sessions: 8 evening sessions
  • Dates: 16 October – 4 December
  • Times: 6-8pm
  • Enrolment Fee: $400

Pop music transcends being merely the backdrop of our lives; it resonates with our emotions, stimulates our intellect, molds our attitudes, and defines our experiences. From Bubblegum Music to Britpop, this course delves into the vibrant history and diverse dimensions of pop music. Utilizing rock and pop as cultural lenses, it explores contemporary landscapes and philosophical inquiries.

Course outline

Session 1 One – Origins:

  • Exploring Rock and Pop: From “Rock Around the Clock” to Elvis Presley.
  • Navigating Modernity vs. Postmodernity: Balancing Thought and Emotion.

Session 2 – Teen Tycoons:

  • The Influence of Phil Spector, Motown, and Girl Groups.
  • Surfing with The Beach Boys and The British Invasion.

Session 3 – Evolution:

  • The Poetry of Protest: Bob Dylan and The Beatles.
  • British Blues and the Rise of Hard Rock.

Session 4 – Psychedelic Odyssey:

  • From Psychedelia to Bubblegum Music.
  • American Response: The Monkees, The Byrds, and Country Rock.

Session 5 – Parody and Progress:

  • Glam and Art Rock: Roxy Music, Brian Eno, and David Bowie.
  • Progressive and Heavy Rock: Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson.

Session 6 – Rebellion and Innovation:

  • The Rise of Punk and New Wave: Television, Blondie, and Reggae.
  • Manchester Scene: New Order, Techno Pop, and Ska Revival.

Session 7 – Retro Reflections:

  • From Big Star to Indie: The Paisley Underground and Alternative Rock.
  • Grunge Emergence and The Legacy of Indie.

Session 8 – Cultural Crossroads:

  • Britpop, Shoegazing, and the Bristol Sound.
  • Contemporary R&B and Soul Influence: Speculating the Future of Pop and Rock.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion, participants should:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of modern culture.
  • Analyze the societal and creative influences on music.
  • Recognize the construction of personal identity through lived experiences.

Who should enrol

  • Individuals interested in pop and rock music
  • Those fascinated by modern culture and music history
  • Anyone curious about the history of ideas and its connection to music