Skip to content The Open University

Student and tutor module reviews

From Enlightenment to Romanticism c.1780-1830

see module description

  • Points: 60
  • Code: A207
  • Level: 2
On this page

Student reviews

This was my fifth module and I have to say my favourite. The module was varied and met my expectations. What I found particularly useful was going to see Sir John Soanes museum in Holburn. The DVD Rom doesn't do it justice. It came up in the exam this year and if I hadn't seen the museum I don't feel I would have been able to do the question justice. The tutor was very informative and helpful.

Highly recommend this course for anyone who wants a broad range, workload was high but not excessive.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: October 2013

I really enjoyed studying for this course. At the beginning you might feel a 'bit at sea' with opera, the history of art, philosophy and so on. The way the course pulls all these strands together is a tribute to the skill of the OU team who created it. Both tutors in the Yorkshire region were excellent. They allayed nerves regarding the exam. Essentially if you follow the 'intructions on the label' there is no reason why you cannot do well on this course.

Stephen James Bell

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

I enjoyed the course but the exam questions were ambigious. Disappointed with exam mark but overall a good course.

Anthony Patrick Higgins

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: December 2012

This really is a cracking course! As I'd done all the music modules, and still needed 60 credits to complete my BA, this proved to be an ideal conclusion to my undergraduate studies. As a musician I obviously enjoyed the parts on Don Giovanni, the Olney Hymns and Schubert Lieder, but there is so much more to engage with such as Mungo Park, Robert Owen's 'model' New Lanark and the monumental Sir John Soane.
There's a lot of work to get through, and you may find that some sections get a little 'skipped'. However I would recommend this module to anyone who likes to get an all-round impression of a particularly fascinating period of European history.
As always with the OU, the standard of tuition is first class.

Philip Watson

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: December 2012

I just ADORED this course - my favourite by MILES of the four I have done so far. I was engaged from the word go, and I had a brilliant tutor who was so helpful, patient and understanding, it made studying and the tutorials a breeze.

I went to see Don Giovanni performed in my local theatre (Liverpool Empire) and it just brought it alive for me - I had never seen an opera live before, and I loved every second of it. I watched the DVD over and over again - I was truly converted. I am surprised I didn't wear it out!

The French Revolution, Napoleon and the Marquis de Sade have always fascinated me too, so I was truly a pig in muck on this course.

But my favourite bit out of all of it just HAS to be the Royal Pavilion at Brighton - one of the topics I revised and wrote an essay about in the exam. I was lucky enough to visit it this summer (sadly not in time for the exam!) and I would absolutely URGE you to go and see it if you are in the Brighton area - it was just utterly, utterly brilliant, and well worth every penny of the entrance fee (especially with a discount with my NUS card!).

Yes, there were a couple of parts that didn't float my boat - namely Byron. At the risk of sounding like a heathen, I just don't get poetry, especially over-indulgent reams of it anyway!

Overall, I would heartily recommend this course to anyone. I thought it was a good follow up to AA100 as it covered a bit of everything. After the disappointment I felt while studying A218 (my review for that one is on that course webpage!) my belief in myself was well and truly restored both with interesting and diverse course materials and a fantastic tutor.

Thoroughly and utterly recommend it 20 out of 10 :-)

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: September 2012

A grand tour through a range of subjects - including philosophy, art, music and literature - to a fascinating time in our history and in the development of our view of ourselves and the world. Sure it is hard work, but it should be. It has a vibrancy and colour that will always be better than 50 shades of grey.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: September 2012

I found this to be a fascinating and stimulating course. Although A207 is a Level 2 course, the workload was really quite demanding and time consuming. In reality, it felt more like a Level 3 course, the exam certainly did! I do feel though, that I have now got a good grasp of the time period and a good broad knowledge of some of the issues surrounding the Enlightenment to Romanticism.

Overall, a really interesting course to study but don't do as I did and take on a level 3 course at the same time. This is a course that deserves an investment of time to get the best from it.

Karen McAtear

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: August 2012

I think the A207 is the most demanding of all the OU courses I have undertaken, but with the help of a brilliant tutor and the 2 parcels of superb study materials I managed a respectable pass. I would not recommend attempting it as a first OU course and unless you have oodles of spare time - do not attempt to study a second module.

The course takes the student on a journey from the formal classical ideas of 18th century Enlightenment to the self-orientated and imaginative thinking of the 19th Century Romantics.

The in-depth study of Mozart's sublime opera Don Giovanni turned this rock music fan into a lover of classical music. The music theory was made easy to understand and inspired me to begin learning to play the piano.

The study of the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon gave me a vivid insight into European history, which in turn has broadened my understanding of British history.

I enjoyed studying the religious revival in England especially reading the poetic hymns of Cowper and Newton. This led on to a study of the anti slavery movement which was enhanced by the writings of the slave victims. I loved my journey to Africa with Mungo Park, his book Travels in the Interior is a pleasure to read.

Then it was back to the changing face of the British countryside. With the help of poets like Wordsworth and painters like Turner, I explored the Lake District and then moved north to New Lanark and the model society established by social reformer Robert Owen.

Block 5 was difficult for me but the superb interactive DVD of the Soane Museum - home of eccentric architect John Soane and a treasure trove of art and sculpture brought his work vividly alive. I also enjoyed the scientific element of this block and thanks to Mrs Marcet finally learned how a battery works.

Block 6 was my favourite. The study of the young German theorists, who voiced the new ideas of Romanticism, helped my understanding of the whole period. Reading Goethe's Faust and Byron's poem Childe Harold Canto 111, was an inspiration and listening to Schubert's beautiful musical adaptations of Goethe's poems was pure delight.

Then follows a visit to Brighton Pavilion and a study of its exotic oriental elements. I fell in love with the paintings of Delacroix and was thrilled at the opportunity to study my favourite poem, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Kubla Khan.

Now that it is over, I feel not only that I had been 'educated' but also that I have been civilised.

Gillian Pell

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: August 2012

What can I say? A207 has changed my life! I feel not only did it provide very high quality materials, teaching and feedback, but it also provided me with the tools and the interest to get out there and explore what human knowledge has to offer. I feel that through A207 I have finally got an education. I feel really empowered by what I have learnt in this course, and what I will continue to go on learning as a result of studying it.

It was my first OU course, and I was a little daunted by it all. Before this course I had never heard of Goethe, had no knowledge of art history, really disliked classical music and opera :D, thought Napoleon was British (I know, I know... the shame!) and to be honest had no idea what Romanticism was. I had just read a bit of Hume's Treatise of Human Nature and had thought the Enlightenment sounded ace, so decided to see what happened after that.

What could possibly be better than the Enlightenment? How wrong was I! I fell in love with the German Romantics - Novalis, Wackenroder - , with Byron, Rousseau, with Wordsworth and Delacroix. I think Shubert is amazing, and from him have found Liszt and a new love of music. I now drag my son round art galleries finding Romantic paintings, pointing out the differences between a Turner and a Claudian. I look for Faustian elements in modern day stories and read Childe Harold as my son's bedtime story. Like I say, I have finally got an education, and a real lust for learning.

I had an excellent tutor who supported me fantastically, and I came away with a very good grade. That matters not though. The doors A207 have opened for me are the best rewards I could ever hope for.

Course starting: October 2010

Review posted: October 2011

This course was enjoyable and challenging in equal measure. The wide range of texts from Music, History, Literature, History of Art, Philosophy, Architecture, History of Science and Religion gives a sense of the changes happening across all branches of European culture. I would recommend the course to any arts student whose studies take in this period; it really does add breadth to the understanding of what was happening at this time and adds a context for what the student is learning in his or her own discipline.

If I can add one quibble it is that Schubert is studied as an example of an early Romantic composer rather than Beethoven. While I appreciate that the study of Schubert's settings of Goethe poems links (a bit tenuously) to the study of Faust the fact that Beethoven was one of the dominant cultural figures of his time and much of rest of the 19th century should necessitate his inclusion.

Conor McCormick

Course starting: October 2010

Review posted: October 2011

A stimulating course, relatively narrow in timeframe and broad in content. I signed up after completing AA100 in the previous year and this was my first Level 2 course. I contemplated both A150 and A151 as stepping stones to Level 2 but I was impatient and the A207 course description extremely tempting.

Whether or not it was wise to choose this course as my step up from Level one is debateable for the reasons I give below but, wise or not, I enjoyed the experience beyond my expectations.

My enjoyment of A207 came from the sheer breadth of course materials and the way in which they were presented. Like AA100, this is a multi-disciplinary course and so will contain units which appeal to some but not to others. For example, the first unit proper (after the course introduction) analysed Mozart's Don Giovanni and unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I could not find any love (or even 'like' to be honest) for opera.

Luckily, the subsequent units contained a fascinating examination of some philosophy of the period in the persons of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume and the Marquis de Sade plus the first TMA gave students the opportunity to choose a question on Mozart or a question on Rousseau. This was the nature of the course but to say that the unit subjects which were vivid and interesting outweighed those which were not is an understatement. My personal favourites were the aforementioned philosophy; the Napoleonic paintings of David, Ingres & Gros; the French Revolution; the Olney Hymns; art by Turner, Constable, Delacroix & Goya; Humphrey Davy; Goethe; writings on German theories on art; and the Brighton Pavilion.

My extremely helpful and knowledgeable tutor was a vital guide in my progress and he even gave up an afternoon of his time to take some of us to an exhibition of Lake District painting which featured a painting which was the subject of one of the TMAs.

The course is described as text-based so the above subjects are probed by examining original source materials from the period such as paintings, poems, writings, hymns, speeches and personal recollections. The CDs, DVDs and the Illustrations book were all well made. I came away from the course believing that, if we want to know about people of certain time period then we can do worse than examine their artistic and cultural output.

I said above that I wasn't sure that A207 was wise as my first choice at level two. The main reason for this is the sheer volume and complexity of the course material. This being my first course at this level, I have no basis for comparison with other courses of the same grade but there seemed an awful lot of reading to do per week. As evidence of the large amount of work involved in A207, those others that I spoke to at day schools and tutorials who had more experience at levels two and three also found the sheer volume of reading unusually demanding.

Don't forget that there are two books (Stendhal & Park), one play (Goethe) and two anthologies to read as well as an opera to listen to/watch and, if you work full time like I do then, you will be stretched for time. You are not actually required to read every page of these volumes but, even so, it is a lot of material to get through and I was not as prepared as I would have liked. I fell behind at times and had to skip some parts of the course material (especially Mungo Park) and, while this can be done, it is a shame to do as well as limiting your options at exam time. This falling-behind was my responsibility of course, but I am passing on the fruits of my knowledge to those who following in my footsteps!

I would recommend that you read Park, Stendhal and Goethe before the commencement of the course if possible, even if you only skim read them to get a basic idea of their structure and content. The fact that these three are enjoyable to read should make that job easier though.

So, overall I really enjoyed this course and, as it was my first at Level 2 as well as my first exam in over twenty years, was pleased with the grades that I achieved. It was enjoyable, fascinating and it stretched me intellectually more than anything has ever done before: I would heartily recommend it to anybody interested in the culture and events of the tumultuous period it covers. If you are looking for a real challenge in both volume and complexity of content then this course will satisfy on both counts!

Steven James Whyton

Course starting: October 2010

Review posted: September 2011

It would be difficult for me to have any criticisms of this course. I had a fantastic tutor and the course is varied between history, music, philosophy, literature, social science, art, within a very pivotal time in British / European history, ie, 1780 to 1830. I would strongly recommend this course if you are either interested in gaining a good general knowledge of events of this important time eg, French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, the influence of Enlightenment thought and later Romantic thinking, and the great characters who help shape the period, or wish to give yourself a good start in specialising in history, literature.

Ian Johnston

Course starting: October 2009

Review posted: April 2011

I loved this course. I completely agree with the review by Christopher Holden - I felt so inspired by the different things I had learnt and wanting to learn more after the course finished. It covers a rich period of history and does so in a very clever way, often linking different blocks together.

I was concerned about the philosophy elements before I started, but they weren't too bad and I managed to avoid using them for the TMAs and exam. The exam itself was tough but I enjoyed the process of consolidating all I had learnt.

I feel I will be returning to my course books again and again, and exploring the themes further.

I can highly recommend a trip to the Louvre after finishing the course - it felt great seeing the artworks up close and knowing the background involved in their creation. Enjoy!

Amanda Garratt

Course starting: October 2009

Review posted: February 2011

This is a fantastic course. It was so well constructed that I felt quite humbled: not only is there much more to know, I've found, but that there is much more than I possibly can know. Some commentators have complained that the course (or module) touches on too many subjects, at the expense of depth.

But I respectfully submit that these reviewers are missing the point. The module creators have striven to give us the tools with which to explore the topics in greater detail ourselves. This is the precise point of an education, is it not? To give us the tools of enquiry. There is a good chance that, like me, this module will change you forever.

For instance, I was least looking forward to the section on architecture - buildings and whatnot, I thought, so what! Since completing the course, however, I've read numerous books on architecture, visited the Parthenon in Athens, and I can't walk down a street anywhere without noting Dorics. Yep, A207 is one of the best modules I've done. Do it!

Christopher Holden

Course starting: October 2009

Review posted: November 2010

I took this course as the final one of my BA Literature degree. It was very interesting and stimulating throughout, not least because of the way tutorials and day schools are organised in Leeds. Three tutors collaborated to offer several day schools for all tutorial groups as well as individual group tutorials. There was superb teaching and student support.

Susan Elizabeth Aldred

Course starting: October 2009

Review posted: November 2010

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

Enter a module code to find a review

To send us reviews on modules you have studied with us, please click the sign in button below.