Sample Course Descriptions

The course outlines given here are general in nature, designed to give a broad idea of the range of classes available at the FSU London Study Centre and as a guide to the style in which course are taught in London. Not all courses are available every semester and, as taught by specific faculty, the details of each course, from books read through sites visited to assignments expected will differ depending upon the particular interests of the instructor. You may not visit all of the sites mentioned in each course description. What will not change, however, is the commitment to using London as a textbook in creative and imaginative ways whilst yet maintaining academic rigor.

Once you have enrolled with IP, please refer to the specific Schedule of Classes and Course Descriptions specific to your semester abroad. These semester-specific details will be available from the IP office as your registration draws near.

ENL 3334 - Introduction to Shakespeare

EUH 3530 England, the Empire and the Commonwealth

EUH 4502 England Since 1870

HUM 4931 British Life and Culture

ARH 3057 History and Criticism of Art

ARH 2000 Art, Architecture and Artistic Vision

THE 3061 Introduction to London Theatre

CGS 2100 Microcomputer Applications for Business/Economics

CLA 3502 The Roman Family

CPO 3123 Comparative Government and Politics: Great Britain

ECO 2023 Principles of Microeconomics

ENG 3931 Special Topics: The Bloomsbury Group

ENL 2022 Early Romantics to the Present

EUH 3501 Making of Modern England

GEO 1400 Human Geography

William Shakespeare

The Chandos portrait of William Shakespeare. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

What better place to study the works of William Shakespeare than the city in which sits a theatre bearing the form and name of the theatre for which Shakespeare wrote? Thus in this course, Introduction to Shakespeare, students will not only read A Midsummer Night’s Dream but they will tour the theatre for which it was written! In addition to immersing themselves in the texts of several of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, students might visit Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upn-Avon, as well as, through walks and talks, become familiar with a whole host of London sites familiar over four hundred years ago to Shakespeare himself.

Battle of Trafalgar

The Battle of Trafalgar by William Clarkson Stanfield. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This course, England, the Empire and the Commonwealth, examines the rise and fall of the largest empire in history. We will examine the process by which England, a small island off the coast of continental Europe, expanded first to become a United Kingdom of Britons and then evolved into an empire responsible, by 1920, for one quarter of the earth’s surface and one fifth of the world’s population. We will also examine the process by which, only 30 years later, that empire began to unravel and to re-configure itself as the British Commonwealth. Students will participate in a number of field trips visiting both sites of history and sites of commemoration. Walking tours of London will take us to the likes of Whitehall where in a single road we can visit the House of Parliament to make our classroom discussion of political reform more real; we can pass by Downing Street and discuss the evolution of the office of Prime Minister; we can visit the Banqueting Hall and, seeing the site of the execution of Charles I, understand something of the enormity of the struggle for power between Crown and Parliament; we can sit in Trafalgar Square and place England’s defeat of France into an imperial context; we will take a walk down the Mall and discuss the process by which London became a royal and imperial city; and we can go to Greenwich and try and grasp, in Britain’s ownership of time, something of the enormity of power wielded by British politicians. We will also make use of the wealth of museums in London. We will visit the British Museum to explore the relationship between slavery and empire; the Foundling Museum to consider the plight of Britain’s poorest subjects even as the Empire was at its mightiest; the Imperial War Museum to better try and comprehend the impact of an empire at war, and finally, the National Portrait Gallery to see images of just who these British people were.

Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Recognized as the ‘workshop of the world,’ and centre of what would become the largest empire in the world, Britain in 1870 was the dominant power in global politics, economics, technology and culture. Over the ensuing 138 years, Britain would lose that position. This course tells the tale of both the acquisition of power, and in greater detail, the loss of power. It does so by looking at Britain’s involvement in empire, wars, and relations with the United States and Europe. The course also considers domestic developments examining issues such as the rise of labor, the fight for the vote, the rise of citizenship and the institution of the welfare state. Students can expect to embark on a large number of field trips to such sites as the Cabinet War Rooms, Greenwich, the London Transport Museum, the Geffrye Museum, and the Imperial War Museum. Students can also expect to spend a considerable amount of time simply walking about the city, peeling off layers of history to reveal something of the past 138 years of social, political and cultural life. We will also make one or two visits to the theatre. Additional class fees for this course will be no more than £60.

English Rugby Team

Famous english rugby players, 1881. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

What is living, working, and playing in Britain all about? In this course, British Life and Culture, students will embark upon a journey through British history and contemporary society in an effort to grasp something of what it means to be British. Is it attending a football match which is really a soccer match? Is it drinking a pint of beer which, depending on your point of view is either too warm or just right at room temperature? Is it taking pride in the Royal Family or is that something, which, though at the heart of London, is just for the tourists? These are just a few examples to illustrate the process by which students will experience Britain through this course. In addition to using the city as a classroom, students will employ a variety of written texts – newspapers, novels, plays – as a lens through which to view British society and culture. They will undertake independent research projects – perhaps a digital record of their journey, perhaps a blog about their discoveries, or perhaps a research paper about the manner in which the British past seems ever to intrude into the British present.

Arnolfini Wedding Portrait

The Arnolfini wedding portrait by Jan Van Eyck. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

How much better to see a work of art in person than in a slide! That experience is one of many the program in London can offer incoming students. Two art history courses are regularly taught in London. One, History and Criticism of Art, is the second half of the art history survey, using London museums as the classroom. Famous paintings such as Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Wedding, Holbein’s The Ambassadors, Leonardo’s Madonna of the Rocks, and Raphael’s portrait of Pope Julius II are examined in the first half of the course, while in the second half we look at such well-known works as Constable’s Hay Wain, Fragonard’s The Swing, Monet’s bridge at Giverny, and modern exhibitions in the Tate Modern Gallery. The discussion of the works while standing in front of them often yields new insights and allows students to look closely when they have questions.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey at night, from Dean's Yard. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Art, Architecture and Artistic Vision, traces the development of London architecture by going out into the city and looking at buildings, starting with the Roman wall and following through to the modern skyscrapers. Medieval structures such as the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey are studied as are Renaissance structures like the Banqueting House and Baroque churches like St. Paul’s Cathedral. Students might travel to see the famous 18th-century Neo-Classical house of Chiswick in the suburbs as well as Nash’s beautiful Crescent near Regent’s Park. London is one of the most exciting cities in the world for modern architecture, too, so the course finishes with such iconic buildings as Norman Foster’s Gherkin, Richard Rogers’ inside-out Lloyd’s building, and Julia Barfield’s London Eye, the giant Ferris wheel that is the great tourist attraction of this century. Students will experience all the buildings up close since most classes are held outside and in the buildings.

Royal National Theatre

Royal National Theatre photographed by David Samuel. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

There isn't a city in the world with a richer theatre tradition than London, nor a tradition so richly complemented by a vital contemporary theatre scene. Here you will find the traditional alongside the cutting edge, visit the renowned national companies (the National Theatre, the RSC) and be enthralled by the most exuberant experimental theatre, such as a promenade performance through a long-abandoned underground railway station. The FSU London Centre is situated in the heart of the capital in Bloomsbury, a stone's throw away from the West End theatre district. Our acting, writing, directing, costume, design, and management classes are taught by leading London theatre professionals along with tenured faculty, each with a passionate commitment to pass on their skills to the next generation. We believe that students learn best from those who have successfully pursued the art they are studying. In this course, Introduction to London Theatre, students are introduced to current dramaturgy and stagecraft in London in a variety of ways. First and foremost, students go to the theatre to see between 8 and 10 plays being performed; they also, in an attempt to understand something of the vastness of the project of putting on a play, participate in behind-the-scenes tours. Inside the classroom, students attend lectures and masterclasses given by London theatre professionals.

The Turing Bombe

The Turing Bombe at Bletchley Park, England, photographed by Mike Peel. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Designed to enable students in business and economics to become proficient with microcomputer hardware and software applications that are typically used in the workplace, this course takes advantage of both its London location and its small class size. With three labs, wireless connectivity and 24 hour access, the London Centre provides students with a wonderful opportunity to learn, and to practice what they have learnt, in an unhurried and unharried environment. Specifically, students can expect to develop new skills in hardware concepts, operating systems, word-processing, spreadsheets, databases, networks, Internet, world wide web, multi-media presentations and information systems. Professor and student work together, tutorial style, to ensure collective and individual understanding of material and methods. Students might even take a trip to Bletchley Park, the birthplace of modern computing and see for themselves the link between what they are learning in twenty-first century London and what was learnt in wartime Britain.

Roman Baths at Bath

The Roman baths at Bath. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

What did the Romans ever do for Britain? What did the Romans ever do for the family? Quite a lot in both cases. In this course, students will examine the Roman family in all its various facets, with a particular focus upon that Roman family in Britain. Thus the course will consider not only the nuclear family but also a broader concept of family expanded to include slaves and dependents. Students can expect to visit sites of historical interest such as the Museum of London to see the archeological finds from over 400 years of Roman residence in London; the British Museum to see artifacts of Roman familial history taken directly from Rome by another, later empire; and Bath to see what could quite possibly be considered the finest Roman baths in Europe.

House of Commons

The House of Commons at Westminster by Augustus Pugin and Thomas Rowlandson. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Mother of Parliaments. So do many Britons term their parliamentary system, heralding it as the example for colonial states on the way to independence to follow. This course will take a close look at that parliamentary system, with a particular eye to bringing out the similarities and contrasts with the system of government of the United States. Among other topics, students will examine the costs and benefits stemming from an unwritten constitution, the relationship between local and national government, the process by which prime ministers and peers are elected and appointed respectively, and the nature of the understanding between state and citizen in a kingdom of four nations. Students can expect to immerse themselves into the heart of British political culture both by site visits to the Houses of Commons and Lords, by guided walks around the political landscape of London and by a daily reading and review of the nation’s political journalism.

Harry Dexter White with John Keynes

Assistant Secretary, U.S. Treasury, Harry Dexter White (left) and John Maynard Keynes, honorary advisor to the U.K. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

What better place to study economics than the country in which Adam Smith wrote his Wealth of Nations and John Maynard Keynes wrote his General Theory? Students taking this course can expect to integrate their classic textbook learning with an imaginative approach to the science of economics. Topics covered include a consideration of consumption, production, and resource allocations from both a private and social point of view; microeconomic problems and policy alternatives; the economics of inequality and poverty; and comparative economic systems. Living in a city of seven million residents, students might expect to explore any one of these issues on one of several guided tours of neighborhoods and business areas. In particular, students might expect to pay a visit to the City and any one of its famous financial institutions from the venerable Bank of England to the inside-out Lloyds. Through visits such as these students would develop an awareness of the relationship between the economics of the textbook and the economics of the street.

Virginia Woolf

Portrait of Virginia Woolf by Roger Fry. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Famous as people who lived in squares but loved in triangles, the Bloomsbury Group consisted of novelists, artists, critics, historians, and economists. Politically progressive and socially unconventional, the Group exercised a powerful cultural force in inter-war Britain, and have continued to fascinate ever since. The Bloomsbury location of the FSU London Study Centre makes taking this course akin to a veritable immersion into Bloomsbury mores and history. Surrounded by the very squares in they lived, reading the likes of Mrs. Dalloway and Howard’s End, and going to the Courtauld to see the art of Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Roger Fry, students may hope to develop a critical and personal understanding of the cultural impact of this diverse yet collectively brilliant group of people.

Jane Austen

Portrait of Jane Austen. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Studying British literature whilst living in Britain provides a wealth of opportunity to bring the novels, poetry and plays of the classroom to vibrant life. Students might read Jane Austen’s Persuasion and go to Bath to see where Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth found their love again. Or they might stand on Westminster Bridge and reflect upon Wordsworth’s poem and poetry. Or they might walk around London and see the sights and sounds of Ian McEwan’s Saturday from Fitzroy Square to Trafalgar Square to the Post Office. In short, the possibilities of this course are multiple, but perhaps of greater significance even than the opportunity to visit specific sites is the opportunity to immerse oneself into the very culture and life of Britain, and thereby seek to understand something of the literary context from which so many classic pieces of literature have been produced.

The Tower of London

Inside the Tower of London. Courtesy of Leon Weber and Wikimedia Commons.

A rapid survey of English history from Anglo-Saxon times to 1783, this course covers an enormous amount of ground – both chronologically and physically. Students can expect to develop an understanding of constitutional and legal aspects of English history, as well as an appreciation of cultural and social developments. Students can expect to walk all over London peeling away the modern-day surfaces to reveal the long historical narrative beneath. Site visits might include studying the Anglo-Saxons through the archeological discoveries of the British Museum; looking for evidence of incursions, invasions and immigration by Vikings, Normans and Huguenots; using the Tower of London to explore issues of race, ethnicity and religion in medieval Britain; exploring early modern Britain through the streets and architecture of the City of London; and analyzing the development of Crown-Parliament relations by walking through and visiting both the area and Palace of Westminster.

Brick Lane

Brick lane by Justinc. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As the centre of the largest empire in history, London is a part of a great many people’s geography. Thus it is the perfect text through which to explore issues central to an understanding of local, national and global geography: world cultures, population problems, global economic restructuring, international development, and political interdependence. Taking advantage of what London has to offer, students will visit neighborhoods such as Brick Lane where global economic restructuring as well as political interdependence has resulted in a mass migration of people and the development of a new multi-cultural society. Students can also expect to visit sites such as the London Transport Museum which, through its artifacts, films, and speakers, documents and analyzes the role by transportation in the varying shifts form village to town to city to suburb and from slum to regeneration.