Online course in History

Working Lives in the Coal Mines: Mining History and Heritage

Explore the experiences of workers in the coal mining industry from the 1840s to the 1920s and learn about its impact on Britain.

Working Lives in the Coal Mines: Mining History and Heritage

  • Duration 4 weeks
  • Weekly study 3 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $54 Find out more

Uncover the lives of coal industry workers and miners in the long 19th century

On this course, you’ll explore the history and heritage of British mining labour. You’ll discover the evolution of the role of coal-miners in the 19th century, the hardships they endured, and learn how mining has affected British industrial heritage today. Through online resources and museum archives, you’ll gain historical, literary and genealogical research skills, and learn to critically assess mining artefacts and representations of life in the mines. You’ll also learn how these representations relate to wider issues of class, gender, and political and professional identity.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 14 secondsHello. I'm David and I'm the Assistant Curator at the National Mining Museum Scotland. Together with the National Coal Mining Museum of England and the Big Pit in South Wales we are delighted to be working with Kirstie and Arthur on this MOOC. Over this course we're going to look at four different groups of workers. So we'll start with the colliers, the men who worked at the coal face. Then we'll focus on children and young people. After that, we're going to consider surface workers, many of whom were women. And we're going to end by considering

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 secondsa very important figure in mining history: the trades unionist. Our interests are the meaning of work, the significance of work and we try to explore that. So that will involve us thinking about the pitfalls, the downside of work as well as the joy and the satisfactions of work. So it's a course about labour, about work and about working-class communities.

What topics will you cover?

The course will consist of 4 modules, each focused on a different kind of worker associated with the mining industry and the particular challenges they faced: 1. The collier 2. The child miner 3. The surface worker 4. The trade unionist

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

What will you achieve?

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

  • Discuss the range of activities involved in working in the mining industry in the long nineteenth century, and how these changed during the period covered by the course.
  • Assess representations of working lives in the mines and mining artefacts and discuss how they relate to wider questions of class, gender, and political and professional identity.
  • Reflect on how mining work impacted on the body in this period.
  • Engage with written and oral material on workers’ lives within the appropriate historical and material contexts.
  • Engage with online resources, including museum archives, and perform searches in these and other archives for material relevant to mining history and workers’ lives.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for people with an interest in mining history or heritage, or industrial heritage more broadly.

The course will also be of interest to professionals working in or aiming to work in the heritage sector and students at school or university who have an interest in the long Victorian period.

Who will you learn with?

Kirstie Blair

Kirstie Blair

I am a Chair in English Studies at the University of Strathclyde and currently lead the research project 'Piston, Pen & Press: Literary Cultures in the Industrial Workplace.'

Arthur McIvor

Arthur McIvor

Professor of Social History, University of Strathclyde, & Director of the Scottish Oral History Centre. My research interests lie in the history of work, occupational health & deindustrialization.

Who developed the course?

The University of Strathclyde is a leading international technological university located in Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, committed to useful learning.

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