A History of London: 1666 to 1851

Online course

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

This course explores the transformation of the elegant city of Christopher Wren into the vast imperial metropolis of the Great Exhibition, a massive emporia of the world’s riches and the most populous city in human history.

On this London history course you can learn from our world-class experts wherever you are, whenever suits you: watch lectures live or view the recording later in your own time. You can experience the full breadth and depth of the V&A's collections with more than 40 hours of study over 12 weeks. Learn at your own pace: lecture recordings and study materials, lecture notes, copies of the presentations, and additional study materials are available in our secure Microsoft Teams environment for up to 12 weeks after the course ends, so you'll never miss a thing. And finally, join the conversation: share your perspective with your fellow students, and support each other in your further enquiries outside of class time.

Read more
course photo
Portrait of Year Course Director Mike Berlin

Year Course Director
Mike Berlin

Mike Berlin is a Lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is a specialist in London history, particularly social history of early modern London and has published extensively on the history of London’s guilds. Before joining Birkbeck, he was a research officer at the Centre for Metropolitan History, Institute of Historical Research.

I loved that I could watch when I wanted and could stop and start at my pleasure. Previous V&A Academy Online Course Attendee

Course overview

In the two hundred years after the fire London emerged as the world’s greatest city, the metropolitan capital of the largest empire in history, consisting of grand houses and elegant squares, a river teaming with ships from all corners of the globe, and a galaxy of artists, writers, actors, musicians and master craftsmen drawn from all over Europe. Industry came with empire and from the early 1800s new docks, canals, warehouses and eventually railways girded London and sped up the ebb and flow of people and goods. Yet this achievement was marked by widespread social unrest. Events such as the Gordon Riots showed how the London mob could threaten the peace of the prosperous. In response new institutions such as the workhouse, the penitentiary and the police were created to still the grumbling hive, along the way creating a new infrastructure of metropolitan government.


V&A Members get priority booking

Membership Priority Booking opens at 10am on Friday 13 October. General Booking opens at 10am on Thursday 26 October.

Enrol now

Online course: A History of London: 1666 to 1851

10 January 2024 - 27 March 2024


Call to book +44 (0)20 7942 2000

Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 10.00 - 13.00, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)

Related events