• University of York

Pubs: History, Consumers, Management, and Protection

Explore 150 years of pub history, architecture, and management, and learn what you can do to help save pubs from extinction.

655 enrolled on this course

A typical bar in a UK pub, stocked with various ales on tap and bottles stacked in rows behind.

Pubs: History, Consumers, Management, and Protection

655 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

Find out more about how to join this course

Understand the history and protect the future of pubs

For centuries, pubs have been the focal point of local communities. But recent years have seen more and more of them closing their doors for good.

On this three-week course from the University of York, you’ll explore how pubs have changed over the past 150 years and what contemporary pubs offer communities and individuals.

Considering social, economic, and design/architectural perspectives, you’ll examine the history, development, and look to the future of pubs within communities and our heritage culture.

Trace the history of pubs and pub architecture

You’ll start the course with a brief history of pubs, from the late 19th century to the present day.

You’ll be introduced to some of the oldest pubs in the UK, learning how pub styles and architecture have evolved over the years.

Understand the role of pubs as a social, cultural, and communal space

Week 2 of the course will dig deeper into the social and cultural role of the pub. You’ll investigate the importance of pubs for social sustainability, and discuss their value as a community asset. In particular, you’ll cover pub consumers, why they visit, and how they use pubs.

You’ll also consider pubs from an ethnographic perspective, analysing pub entertainment and drinking behaviour.

Learn why pubs are under threat, and what you can do to support them

In the final week of the course, you’ll look at the challenges that pubs have faced and the current challenges of pub management.

You’ll learn why so many pubs are closing down, and what is needed to support them.

By the end of the course, you’ll be inspired to do your bit to save pubs from extinction.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds Pubs are an important part of our cultural heritage in the UK and have been part of our society for hundreds of years. They are a notable part of the social fabric of the UK and contribute significantly to the sum of the nation’s happiness. Pubs are more than just a place to go for a drink, they are a gathering place where people can relax and express their views, meet friends and strangers or simply pass the time of day. Pubs are also valuable for our economy contributing to UK GDP, tax revenues and hospitality jobs.

Skip to 0 minutes and 38 seconds Sadly, we are losing pubs at an alarming rate, due to many factors including changes in the structure of the industry, increased competition from other leisure activities, high levels of beer duty and tax and more recent factors such as struggles to fill vacancies, Covid and a significant increase in energy and other costs. In this course we’ll cover a brief history of pubs and examine their role as part of a contemporary UK. We’ll learn about their consumers and management and different types and styles of pubs. Finally we’ll consider why we’re losing pubs, and most importantly what we can do to help save them. We hope you’ll come and join us.


  • Week 1

    Pub History

    • Welcome and introduction to Week 1

      In this activity you'll find out more about what we will cover in Week 1, and we'll discuss how you can get the most out of this course.

    • Why are you here?

      In this activity we'll share how we are and why we're interested in pubs, and hence, why we're doing this short course.

    • A very brief history of pubs (Part 1)

      In this set of activities we'll start to briefly look at the history of pubs, discussing pubs before the 20th century and historic pubs.

    • A very brief history of pubs (Part 2)

      In this section we'll continue to briefly look at the history of pubs, including different architectural styles and types of pubs.

    • Pubs in the 20th Century

      In this set of activities we'll discuss some key aspects of pubs in the 20th century.

    • Contemporary pubs

      In the set of activities we'll look at contemporary pubs, then reflect back on your favourite pub

    • Week 1 quiz and closing thoughts

      To see how much you've learnt so far we'll end week 1 with a short multiple choice quiz.

  • Week 2

    Pub Consumers

    • Welcome and introduction to Week 2

      Welcome back to Week 2 of this short course. In Week 1 we looked at the history and development of pubs. In this activity you'll find out more about what we will cover in Week 2.

    • The pub consumer

      In these steps, we'll be looking at pub consumers, who they are, what they do and how we can study them.

    • Drinking

      While there is no requirement to drink in a pub most people go to drink and in this set of activities we'll explore drinking in pubs.

    • Pub locations and spaces

      In these activities we'll explore pub locations and spaces and how consumers use them.

    • Pub styles and categorisations

      In these steps, we'll be looking at different pub styles, and how they relate to different consumers and at different pub categorisations.

    • What else happens in the pub?

      In this step we'll discuss what else happens in a pub from singing and music, to pub games and sports as well as food and other entertainment.

    • Week 2 quiz and closing thoughts

      We've come to the end of week 2 and now is the time to test the knowledge you've built up this week.

  • Week 3

    Losing and Saving Pubs

    • Welcome and introduction to Week 3

      Welcome to the third and final week of this short course. This week we'll explore pub management, why we are losing pubs and what we can do to save them.

    • Pub management

      In these activities we'll look at how pubs are managed and run.

    • Pub staff

      In this section we discuss pub staff, a key and important part of hospitality and pubs.

    • Market structure

      In these steps we'll look at the market structure of pubs and how this has affected them in the last 30 years.

    • Pubs under threat

      In this activity we'll start to discuss pubs are under threat and why.

    • How can pubs survive?

      In thus activity we'll discuss what needs to be done to save pubs and what the pub of the future might be like.

    • Week 3 quiz, test, and closing thoughts

      Its time to test your knowledge of this final week of this course in the final quiz and test for those who have upgraded

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify and articulate key aspects of the pub in its historical context.
  • Explore and identify pub consumers and their behaviour in the pub context.
  • Identify and evaluate different pub ownership methods and their implications for pub managers and staff.
  • Assess the importance of pubs in the community for social sustainability.
  • Reflect upon support and recommended practices used to help save pubs.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone who wants to learn more about the history, sociology, management, and protection of pubs. If you’re a pub visitor or drinker who wants to know more about the pubs you drink in, this is the course for you.

It will also be useful for service marketers interacting with the pub service environment; hospitality professionals; and anyone with a broad interest in management science, organisational sociology, architecture, consumer behaviour, services marketing or social sustainability.

Who will you learn with?

I'm a Professor of Sustainable Marketing at the School for Business and Society at the University of York, UK. I'm interested in consumer behavior in particular I research pub consumers.

Who developed the course?

University of York

The University of York combines the pursuit of academic excellence with a culture of inclusion, which encourages everyone – from a variety of backgrounds – to achieve their best.

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Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$79/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 4 Aug 2024

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