The continuing education program offers special interest and educational courses with a difference focusing on art, archaeology, culture, history, science, literature and writing, music and life skills.

Tue 22 Jan 2019 - Tue 26 Feb 2019

18:00 - 20:00

6 Sessions
1 spot remaining.

By examining the processes involved we will use case studies from a range of periods throughout the world to demonstrate and illustrate how the discipline functions. This short course will provide a basic understanding of the depth and breadth of archaeology. Beginning with a brief history of the discipline, we will cover the study of human history from the migration out of Africa through to the historical period. Using case studies, we will examine a range of time periods and regions from around the world including North Africa, Europe, the New World and the Pacific. Ideal for the budding archaeology enthusiast.

Course outline

  • Week 1 - Archaeology defined. Following a brief discussion on what defines archaeology as a discipline, we will look at the history and development of archaeological investigation. This will include the evolution and a range of theories and techniques used to study the past including dating.
  • Week 2 - The Neolithic Revolution. The domestication of plants and animals heralded the arrival of the first boom period in the development of civilizations. From the Near-East and through Europe, we will discuss the ramifications of agriculture, trade and urbanisation on human populations. More than just a technology, the arrival of metals produced another 'revolution' in cultural development. We will look at the origins of metallurgy and its spread through Europe and Asia and how human populations reacted to its introduction. As a case study, we will examine the culture of the so-called Celtsâ in Europe and discuss the idea of a pan-European culture.
  • Week 3 - Hunters and gatherers across the Wallace Line. During this session, we will examine the evidence for the settlement of Australia, from its earliest period, through climatic change to Colonial impact. We will also discuss the settlement of Melanesia and Polynesia. Easter Island will be used as a case study for this topic.
  • Week 4 - The Americas. The American continents were settled far later than the other major land-masses but developed much the same way as Europe. We will discuss the origins of the first Americans and the rise of civilisation there concluding with the Aztecs, Maya and Inca.
  • Week 5 - Archaeology & Science. New techniques have enabled archaeologists to revisit material that was long forgotten. Using case studies, we will examine a few of the advances made in science that have helped archaeologists reveal deep insights into past human behaviour.
  • Week 6 - History, Heritage and Archaeology. Archaeology is not only concerned with the deep past. This session introduces historical and industrial Archaeology using case studies from Colonial Australia and Industrial UK. The Past as a Commodity - who owns the Past? Whether we realise it or not, most of us are involved in cultural heritage management at some point in our lives.

Whenever we visit a museum or historic site, heritage management has been put into practice - both good and bad. Tourism in some areas relies heavily on the archaeology of its region. This session will discuss the pros and cons of good heritage management and how management plans were developed for some of the world's most famous sites - Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, the Pyramids of Giza, the Empire State Building - just to name a few.

Who should enrol

People thinking about archaeology as a career or wishing to get more out of their travels. Anyone interested in this fascinating look into our past.

Tue 05 Feb 2019 - Tue 26 Mar 2019

18:00 - 20:00

8 Sessions
13 spots remaining.

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

Week One: What were the Middle Ages?

Different understandings of the Middle Ages.  How did medieval people think about themselves and their place in history?  Why did universities emerge in the Middle Ages and what did they teach? The influence of ancient Greece and Rome on the medieval world.

Week Two: Emperors and Popes.

Charlemagne and the Carolingian ‘Renaissance’. The Donation of Constantine. Monastic reform and the rise of the papacy.  The Investiture Controversy.  Pope Innocent III and the emperor Fredrick II.

Week Three: Saints and Sinners.

Saints cults and the worship of the Virgin Mary.  The letters of Abelard and Heloise.  St Bernard and the faith-versus-reason debate.  Medieval attitudes towards women.

Week Four: From Epic to Romance.

King Arthur and the quest for the Holy Grail.  Courtly Love and The Romance of the Rose.  Orality, literacy and the question of a Twelfth-Century ‘Renaissance’.  Gothic art and architecture.

Week Five: East and West.

Byzantium and the Eastern Schism. The crusades.  Why did the westerners and the Byzantines, both of whom were profoundly Christian, dislike and distrust each other?  What motivated the western crusaders?

Week Six: Sacred and Profane Literature.

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 to Meister Eckhardt.

Week Seven: The Enemy Within.

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?

Week Eight: The Waning of the Middle Ages.

When did the Middle Ages end?  Did they?  Were the Reformation and the Renaissance proto-modern, or quintessentially medieval, phenomena?  What does how we think about the Middle Ages tell us about ourselves and our times?

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.

Tue 05 Feb 2019 - Tue 26 Mar 2019

18:00 - 20:00

8 Sessions
14 spots remaining.

Explore and sample the best and worst of historical food, from Ancient Rome to the twentieth century. Learn about famous chefs and their recipes. Discover the joy of medieval pastries and thing you really should not know about early margarine.

Course outline

  • Topic 1: Introduction to food history and exploring basic concepts
  • Topic 2: Overeating in Ancient Rome - Apicius and his cookbook
  • Topic 3: When gluttony was a deadly sin - medieval and renaissance gourmet delights
  • Topic 4: The British empire's belly - home cooking in England in the eighteenth century
  • Topic 5: Royal recipes
  • Topic 6: The rise of the modern cookbook - Mrs Beeton and friends
  • Topic 7: The Age(s) of exploration - new food, new taste buds and new national cuisine
  • Topic 8: American frontier and colonial cooking

Depending on class interest and time, we may explore other places, times and food.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students should have:

  • an understanding of food history, research of food history, and its relation with other types of history
  • knowledge of ingredients and recipes and culinary interests in Western history
  • an understanding of the links between food and trade and politics.

Who should enrol

Recommended for anyone with an interest in food and history. Previous knowledge of historical events will enrich your understanding of the subject matter but is not necessary.


Thu 02 May 2019 - Thu 30 May 2019

18:00 - 20:00

5 Sessions
16 spots remaining.

Teacher: Gordana Platisa

Fall in love with Shakespeare! Let us ponder into the wonders of Bard’s words. While looking at selected plays, we will delve into the depths of crucial dilemmas, doubts and agonies of the age. Explore the fragility of heaven and certainty of hell in Elizabethan times, and be moved by the power of forgiveness.

Course outline

  • Topic 1: To Kill a King: Hell’s whisperings or a just cause. (Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Richard III).
  • Topic 2: Cakes and Ale: the roads to salvation. (Morality of a mortal coil. Twelfth Night, Henry IV).
  • Topic 3: Poison in your ear: (Hamlet and Othello in conversation).
  • Topic 4: To Tame a Woman: Hell of a Romance. (The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing).
  • Topic 5: Lost and Found: The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. (Twelfth Night, The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale).

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should learn more about Elizabethan views of heaven and hell, of fall and redemption. The course includes insights into plague and puritans and their role in the death of theatre. You will also find out why romantic love does not stand a chance in hell.

Who should enrol

Anyone with an interest in re-discovering and loving Shakespeare, anyone with a passion for decoding the Bard in the theatre context.

Thu 14 Feb 2019 - Thu 21 Mar 2019

18:00 - 20:00

6 Sessions
15 spots remaining.

Teacher: Gordana Platisa

Fall in love with Shakespeare! Discover a rich understanding of the plays, verse, imagery, characters and lines of Shakespeare that your teenage self never appreciated. Looking at selected plays and poetry, delve into the depths of William’s story-telling, and discover the beauty and power of language. Shake off your Shakespeare fears and come Bard a’ baiting.

Course outline

  • Topic 1 - The play’s the thing: Shakespeare and us.Three ways to kill the Bard. Bear baiting or bard bewitchment?
  • Topic 2 - Let’s hear a play: love and death and everything in between.
  • Topic 3 - Catching the rhythm: magical forests and love potions.
  • Topic 4 - Star-crossed lovers: bawdy bard and deadly poisons.
  • Topic 5 - Scottish play: atmosphere, apparitions and atrocities.
  • Topic 6 - Revenge and mercy: On the road to Elsinore: Madness, melancholy and murder of kings

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, you should:

  • learn how and why Shakespeare wrote his plays and sonnets in his unique way
  • cultivate a love and enjoy for speaking and reading Shakespeare lines.

Who should enrol

Anyone with an interest in re-discovering and loving Shakespeare, or with a passion for decoding the Bard in the theatre context. 

Thu 14 Feb 2019 - Thu 04 Apr 2019

18:00 - 20:00

8 Sessions
15 spots remaining.

Teacher: Beatrice Bodart-Bailey

Japan’s geographical position as a string of islands positioned along the coastline of a large continent, yet divided from this continent by dangerous currents, shaped its history and culture. So did the hundred active volcanoes dotting the islands, frequent earthquakes and tsunamis, the fertile volcanic soil, the heavy monsoon rains and the typhoons that destroyed invading armies in past centuries and still cause havoc every year. Using an abundance of visual material this course will survey Japanese history and culture from its beginnings to the early 20th century with due consideration to its geographic and climatic features.

  • Topic 1: Introduction: the geographic and climatic features. Where did the first people on the island chain come from? Jômon culture and its fantastic pottery.
  • Topic 2:  A new wave of immigrants: rice cultivation, mega tombs, mirrors, swords and a female ruler.
  • Topic 3: The formation of central government. The introduction of Buddhism and the role of Shinto. New cultural streams from the continent.
  • Topic 4: The founding of the imperial capital of Kyoto. The refined culture of the aristocracy. The rise of the samurai: recruited to serve the emperor, they usurped his political authority; setting up their capital at Kamakura they created new cultural norms.
  • Topic 5: Internal strife and the arrival of the Christian missionaries. A Japanese embassy to Rome. Artistic and cultural gains from the encounter between East and West.
  • Topic 6: The unification of the country, the sword hunt and formal creation of the samurai class. The Tea Ceremony: its political and cultural significance. The establishment of Tokugawa rule. Persecution of Christianity and the closure of the country.
  • Topic 7: Two and a half centuries of peace, the growth of the mega city of Edo (Tokyo) as administrative capital, the flowering of popular culture and the arts (haiku, kabuki, woodblock print, etc.), the extraordinary ruler mocked as the Dog Shogun and the changing role of the samurai. The Dutch and the impact of their presence in Japan.
  • Topic 8: The natural disasters of the 18th and 19th century, the opening of Japan, the end of shogunal rule: the young Meiji emperor as figure head of the modern state. The political and cultural impact of contact with the West and the ensuing frantic pace of modernization.

 Learning outcomes

 Upon completion of this course, you should:

  • appreciate how the environment has shaped the culture and history of Japan
  • understand to what extent China, Korea and the West impacted on the culture and history of Japan
  • be aware how frequent natural disasters shaped religious believes and philosophical tenets in Japan, differing from those of other countries
  • know the difference between Buddhism and Shinto and the political role played by these two religions
  • have some appreciation of the role of Christianity in Japan
  • know about the origins of samurai culture and the role it played over the course of Japanese history
  • be aware of how the position of Japanese women changed over the course of Japanese history
  • understand how even after the so-called closure of Japan, cultural exchange led to advances in science and the arts in Japan and the West
  • appreciate how under the infamous Dog Shogun, laws were promulgated some of which appeared in the West only 200 years later
  • have learned about the life in perhaps the largest and most densely populated city in the world, twice the size of London in the pre-modern period.

Who Should Enrol

Anyone desiring to understand and appreciate the history and culture of Japan.

Wed 01 May 2019 - Wed 19 Jun 2019

18:00 - 20:00

8 Sessions
16 spots remaining.

The Crusades are among the most important events in world history. As well as discussing themes of religion, society, warfare, and culture; meet outstanding historical individuals such as Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, Peter the Hermit, and Baldwin the leper king of Jerusalem.

Course outline

  • Topic 1: An introduction to and overview of the Crusades.
  • Topic 2: The first Crusade.
  • Topic 3: The Holy Land and the crusader states. Crusading memoirs and primary sources.
  • Topic 4: The third Crusade: Richard and Saladin.
  • Topic 5: The fourth Crusade: the sack of Constantinople.
  • Topic 6: Crusading in the Thirteenth Century: Saint Louis and the emperor Frederick II.
  • Topic 7: The Knights Templar and the military orders.
  • Topic 8: The Crusades in literature and in the western consciousness: Walter Scott's the Talisman. The Crusades and popular culture: Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course, you should:

  • have a greater appreciation of historical and cultural differences, and of human nature
  • have an increased understanding of the complex relationship between the past and the present
  • have a greater awareness of how we moderns see ourselves in relation to the past.

Who should enrol

This course is open to anyone with an interest in history.