BLOG 1 - Sixth Form Lecture Review by Cara Thompson

9th December 2013 

This term the Sixth Form was lucky enough to attend an inspiring set of lectures delivered by experienced and admired Historians at the Carrs Lane Centre, Birmingham. Experts from Oxford, Cambridge and Warwick universities, to name a few, delighted the upper 6th with their challenging and engaging lectures on late 19th/early 20th century revolutionary Russia, while the lower 6th were introduced to the reign of the Early Stuarts by a range of charismatic professors from Birmingham, Bristol and Durham universities.

Character analysis of Nicolas II, Stolypin and Trotsky gave the upper 6th a detailed understanding of the important characters of the period. Professor Robert Service, Oxford University, challenged the assertion of Tsar Nicolas as the ‘idiot of History’ and assessed economic and social problems of early 20th century Russia to unpick whether the revolution was ultimately a result of the weak monarchical rule. Service encouraged the students to form their own opinions about the Tsar and his circumstances, precipitating much post-lecture discussion amongst the upper 6th.

James I and his party lifestyle was the focus of the lower 6th series; students were thrown into the 17th century world of social networking and learned of the indignity of having an ungainly Scot at head of a stuffy and prudish English parliament. ‘The wisest fool in Christendom’ was the focus of the lectures, with Professor Kenneth Fincham, Kent University, compelling argument that James should be seen as Rex Pacificus, an international peacemaker and negotiator. Students enjoyed the contrast of this lecture with that of Professor Ronald Hutton, Bristol University, whose eccentric description of James’s lavish parties and drunken antics brought the king to life in a humorous and dynamic way!

Both lecture series were pitched perfectly to challenge and excite students. The opportunity for students to listen to real Historians talking in depth about their work was greatly appreciated by those who attended, and gave a taste of what it is like to study History at University. The topics touched upon in the lectures complimented the A Level syllabus while stretching the breadth and depth of the students’ current understanding and illuminating interesting and different interpretations of the events they already know well.

A thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening experience for all who attended. Food for thought in abundance!

Cara Thompson



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