Culture, history & humanities

Explore History, Culture & Writing

Explore our extraordinary range of History, Culture and Writing courses and lectures. We offer both introductory and specialist in-depth courses to suit all levels of interest and experience, from ‘How to read a film’ and World literature, to Creative non-fiction writing courses and American history and Politics courses.

Our tutors are experts in their fields and experienced educators; many have published, teach in universities or share their expertise in the media. Tutors share their knowledge and passion through presentations, readings, interactive discussion and exercises, analysis, and other activities.

Many students return to take more courses, telling us they enjoy being part of our City Lit Learning community.

Our popular courses often sell out quickly, so we invite you to browse and book your place now.

Courses available both in-person and online

We offer a range of long and short courses allowing you to choose between in-person and online learning.

Learn in the centre of London with our in-person courses. Our purpose-built facilities in Covent Garden mean we are ideally located and easy to get to. 

See our guide to online learning for more information about accessing our live online courses.

All our courses are live, interactive, and taught by expert tutors. No matter how you prefer to learn, we've got the class for you.

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  1. Full fee £139.00 Senior fee £139.00 Concession £70.00
    Rating:
    98% of 100
  2. How to read a film: a beginners' guide to cinema
    Course start date:  Mon 13 May 2024 (and 3 other dates)

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Paul Sutton
    This course will develop your critical appreciation of the cinema by teaching you how to read and understand film texts. We will look at the elements that underpin film form – narrative, mise en scène, cinematography, editing and sound – alongside its historical development. We will consider film style by exploring classical, post-classical and art cinema and we will examine influential critical modes of analysis, such as genre, authorship and spectatorship.
    Full fee £149.00 Senior fee £119.00 Concession £97.00
    Rating:
    87% of 100
  3. City Lit evening reading group
    Evening
    Course start date:  Mon 25 Sep 2023 (and 1 other date)

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Claire Allen
    Share thoughts and ideas about what you are reading, with books chosen by the group. Please come to the first session with suggestions (contemporary fiction in paperback) and having read The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed. Monthly meetings on 25 Sept, 23 Oct, 27 Nov; 15 Jan, 19 Feb, 18 March, 29 April, 10 June, and 08 July.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £149.00 Senior fee £149.00 Concession £97.00
  4. What makes a masterpiece
    Evening
    Course start date:  Mon 23 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Leslie Primo
    Look at works of art in the Western canon and ask why we consider them to be masterpieces. What formal qualities do they all share, if any, or is our interpretation of a masterpiece largely subjective?



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £249.00 Senior fee £249.00 Concession £162.00
    Rating:
    98% of 100
  5. 50 films from the 50s: Hollywood's last stand
    Course start date:  Mon 23 Sep 2024 (and 1 other date)

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  John Wischmeyer
    The 1950s was the beginning of the end for the Hollywood studio era, a golden age in place since the 1920s. The fifties are more difficult to pin down than the 1930/40s due to explosive diversity in both subject matter and cinematic technology, the profound influence of WWII, the development of European neorealism and the first signs of the French New Wave. An emphasis on teen culture emerged, represented by the brief career of James Dean. Film stars became anti-heroes. The moguls who founded Hollywood began to disappear. The studio business model was doomed. Hollywood reacted both defensively and creatively, going for broke—and producing some of the finest and most enduring films in its history, films that transformed the culture, from Sunset Blvd. (1950) to Some Like It Hot (1959)—both by Billy Wilder. From The Asphalt Jungle (1950) to The Misfits (1961)— Marilyn Monroe’s first and final films, both directed by John Huston. From Here To Eternity (1953 Fred Zinnemann) to A Place in the Sun (1951 George Stevens, part of his American trilogy). Fifties’ films reflected a darkening America. (See related courses on Fifties Musicals, Melodrama and Film Noir).
    Full fee £289.00 Senior fee £231.00 Concession £188.00
  6. The Book of Love: great novels of love and passion
    Course start date:  Mon 23 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Julian Birkett
    Many of the world's greatest books – as well as many of the worst - have taken romantic love as their theme. Take this opportunity to read some of the very best - novels which explore the complexity, heartbreak and frustration as well as the ecstasy of this most powerful human emotion.
    Full fee £249.00 Senior fee £199.00 Concession £162.00
  7. Nineteenth century French fiction
    Evening
    Course start date:  Mon 30 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Megan Beech
    Greed, ambition, social mobility, and complexity of family structures: these are the key issues at play in the three French novels we will discuss in this course. Focusing on Stendhal's The Red and the Black (1830), Balzac's La Cousine Bette (1846) and Flaubert's Sentimental Education (1869). We'll explore the evolution of French literary style and social mores over the course of the 19th Century, thinking about representations of gender, marriage, social class and wealth along the way.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £169.00 Senior fee £169.00 Concession £110.00
  8. Icons and iconography
    Course start date:  Mon 30 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Explore the imagery and significance of the sacred icon, from its classical origins and formulation within the Eastern church, its many interpretations within and beyond the Byzantine world, from the 4th century to the present day.
    Full fee £169.00 Senior fee £135.00 Concession £110.00
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