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Beyond the Ballot: Women’s Rights and Suffrage from 1866 to Today

Royal Holloway, University of London via FutureLearn


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Explore the remarkable story of women’s rights and campaign for the vote

6th February 2018 marked the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, the piece of legislation which extended the vote to (some) women for the first time. 14th December 2018 marked the centenary of the first election in which women could then exercise their vote.

Discover how the vote was won, the nineteenth century background to the campaign and what happened next with Dr Claire Kennan from Royal Holloway and experts from the UK Parliament, The National Archives and the Women’s Library at the LSE.

This course is intended for anyone with an interest in nineteenth or twentieth century history, the women’s suffrage campaign, or the history of women’s rights. By taking this course, you’ll further your knowledge of the fight for equality in the UK and gain contextual insights into perspectives on suffrage.

It does not require any reading before you start or previous experience of studying the subject.


  • Women in the Nineteenth Century: Myth, Reality and Pioneers
    • Introduction
    • Women in Literature
    • Women in Art
    • Women and Work
    • Women and the Law
    • Pioneers: Women's Education and the Campaign to Abolish the Slave Trade
    • Pioneers: The Contagious Diseases Act and Factory Reform
    • Week 1 Conclusion
  • The Women's Suffrage Campaign
    • Introduction
    • The Campaign Begins
    • The Suffragists
    • The Suffragettes
    • Assessing Suffragette Militancy, Then and Now
    • Forgotten Organisations and Supporters
    • Week 2 Conclusion
  • Responses to the Women's Suffrage Campaign
    • Introduction
    • The Political Response to the Women's Suffrage Campaign
    • The State Responds
    • Popular Reactions to the Women's Suffrage Campaign
    • Impact of the First World War
    • The Representation of the People Act
    • Conclusion
  • Beyond the Ballot
    • Introduction
    • The Impact of Women Voters
    • Women in Westminster
    • New and Equality Feminism
    • Second Wave Feminism
    • Women and Parliament Today
    • Week 4 and Course Conclusion

Taught by

Claire Kennan


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  • Most people know a little about the suffragettes but as the saying goes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. The battle for the vote was about much more than breaking windows and chaining to railings. If you want to know the full story you can…

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