Radical Spirituality: the Early History of the Quakers

Online Course

Future Learn
Radical Spirituality: the Early History of the Quakers

What is the course about?

Radical Spirituality: the Early History of the Quakers
The course Radical Spirituality: the Early History of the Quakers is an online class provided by Lancaster University through Future Learn. It may be possible to receive a verified certification or use the course to prepare for a degree.

Learn about the beginnings of this radical religious group as it emerged in 17th century England, with this free online course.

Course description
  • 3 weeks
  • When you think of the Quakers, it might bring to mind porridge oats, or pacifism, or perhaps prison reform. But there is much much more to the Quakers than any of these things. Through this course, we will be finding out about what lies at the heart of Quaker beginnings, who its main characters were, and how in a few weeks during the summer of 1652 the Quaker movement was formed in the north of England. Explore exactly where the Quakers started Almost from nothing, the Quakers were to become the most successful sect of the 1650s and 1% of the population of England were to become Quakers. It was a radical spirituality which appealed to thousands of people, hungry for new ways of thinking. In this three week course, we will see how the events of 1652 unfolded and visit the key sites of Pendle Hill, Firbank Fell, and Swarthmoor Hall in the northwest of England. Each of these places marks a critical piece of the dramatic story of May and June 1652. Learn about key figures in the Quaker movement On Pendle Hill, George Fox, who will come to lead the movement, has a vision of a ‘great people to be gathered’. He finds and recruits hundreds preaching on Firbank Fell a few weeks later. And in Ulverston he meets Margaret Fell – who, convinced of the Quaker message, becomes a co-leader of the group and allows her home, Swarthmoor Hall, to become the headquarters of the new Quaker movement. Through this course you’ll meet and get to know the major figures who contributed to the Quaker movement. Understand how the Quakers changed the face of England Each week contains films, some accompanying readings of George Fox’s journal, a focus on a key text from the period to help us better understand the experience and message of early Quakerism, and some reflection exercises and quizzes. Together, we will explore the beginnings of Quakerism and this critical piece of religious history of a group who gathered around a radical and outspoken spiritual message that was to change the face of 1650s England, and has since remained a distinctive part of the religious landscape. By the end of the course, you will be able understand the beginnings of the Quaker movement and explain its key ideas and radical nature; and be able to reflect on the consequences of Quaker spirituality.
  • The context of the English Civil War
  • The religious ideas of George Fox and other early Quakers
  • The importance of Fox’s Pendle Hill Experience
  • The role of travel in the start of the Quaker movement
  • Fox’s sojourn in Sedbergh
  • The interiorised nature of Quaker spirituality
  • The popularity and unpopularity of Quakerism
  • Margaret Fell’s role in early Quakerism
  • Quaker history post 1652
  • Quakerism as a global faith
  • Develop an understanding of the civil war context of the beginnings of Quakerism
  • Engage with the key ideas of George Fox and the early Quakers
  • Explore the mode and content of early Quaker writing
  • Reflect on the consequences of key Quaker theological ideas
  • Assess the importance of the location of the beginnings of Quakerism
  • Develop an understanding of Quaker history after 1652
  • There are no special requirements to take this course, but an interest in religion or history or both, might be beneficial.
  • Lancaster University
  • Lancaster University is a collegiate university, with a global reputation as a centre for research, scholarship and teaching with an emphasis on employability.
  • Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre
  • Woodbrooke is Europe’s only Quaker Study Centre and has been offering adult education since it was founded in 1903.

Prerequisites & Facts

Radical Spirituality: the Early History of the Quakers

Course Topic

British History, History, Politics & Society, Religion, Social History

University, College, Institution

Lancaster University

Course Skill Level

Course Language


Place of class

Online, self-paced (see curriculum for more information)



Degree & Cost

Radical Spirituality: the Early History of the Quakers

To obtain a verified certificate from Future Learn / Lancaster University you have to finish this course or the latest version of it, if there is a new edition. The class may be free of charge, but there could be some cost to receive a verified certificate or to access the learning materials. The specifics of the course may have been changed, please consult the provider to get the latest quotes and news.
Lancaster University
Radical Spirituality: the Early History of the Quakers
provided by Future Learn


Share your experience

Radical Spirituality: the Early History of the Quakers
Lancaster University Future Learn
Rate the course

Do you recommend the course? *
Here you can find information, reviews and user experiences for the course “Radical Spirituality: the Early History of the Quakers“. The provider of the course – “Lancaster University” – will be glad to answer any questions you may have about the class, click here to use the offical support channels. It would be great if you could share your experience of participating in the course – Your honest review will surely help others to choose the right class!
School: Lancaster University
Topic: British History, History, Politics & Society, Religion, Social History