Royal Holloway launches Women’s Rights MOOC

Free online course from Royal Holloway and UK Parliament marks 100 years of votes for women

Royal Holloway, University of London, in partnership with the UK Parliament, is launching the course Beyond the Ballot: Women’s Rights and Suffrage from 1866 to Today. This free online MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), delivered by FutureLearn, explores the campaign for votes for women and its impact on women’s rights and equality to the present day.

The launch of the course coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the enactment of the Representation of the People Act 1918 which, for the first time, gave some women and most men the right to vote. Beyond the Ballot starts on 5 February 2018.

It is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Parliament’s Vote 100 Project, a year-long programme of events celebrating a century of women’s voices in Parliament. 

The course takes learners on a journey back to the nineteenth century to explore the legal, social and economic frameworks that limited women’s rights prior to the vote. It also introduces learners to some of the pioneering women who campaigned for change. Through rich content including interviews with historians and experts from Royal Holloway and the UK Parliament, learners will develop their understanding of how and why the vote was extended to women in 1918. They will explore the movements seeking to create change and discuss how the struggle for equality continued throughout the twentieth century. Highlights include access to rarely seen documents from The National Archives and the Parliamentary Archives, as well as interviews with female MPs reflecting on some of the remaining barriers to equality. 

‘We want to encourage as many people as possible to register for this free course as it’s important to understand why women wanted the vote in the 1800s, how they campaigned to achieve their goal and what impact the vote has made to this day.”

Matthew Smith, Senior Fellow in Public History at Royal Holloway, University of London, said: “Beyond the Ballot looks to challenge many of the myths and preconceptions that surround women’s lives in the nineteenth century, and to put the campaign for the vote into its wider social and political context. We will also explore the crucial question of what happened after votes for women had been achieved. We want to encourage as many people as possible to register for this free course as it’s important to understand why women wanted the vote in the 1800s, how they campaigned to achieve their goal and what impact the vote has made to this day.”

Nigel Smith, Head of Content at FutureLearn, added: “This is an incredibly important part of UK history, a very relevant topic today, and an exciting project to be part of. In particular, I’m delighted that we’re able to provide a platform to enable a huge volume of people from across the globe to get access to and learn from the materials from the National and Parliamentary Archives, as well as hear about the women who influenced politics over the last two centuries. I’m always proud of our vision at FutureLearn: to build a global community where everyone learns together and enjoys access to the education they need to transform their lives; this course certainly embodies that vision.”

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