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Discussion Groups

Discussion Group Program

Welcome to WEA Sydney’s Discussion Group Program! The Discussion Group Program is a distance education based program with course range runs from history and literature into topics of philosophy and social sciences. Designed for group study (minimum of 6) at home or in a club or other community setting.



All DGP courses listed in the WEA Sydney Discussion Group Program Catalogue are available for enrolment – so don’t miss out! Simply check the availability of your chosen course with WEA Sydney as several courses get booked quickly. Full course information can be found using the links below.


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Australian Stories 1

Terra Australis was a fantasy place in the European imagination long before the voyages of Tasman and Cook. Aboriginal people have been telling dreaming stories about their country and ancestors for perhaps 50,000 years. This course explores some of the most powerful and enduring stories we tell about ourselves and our land, including the Dreaming and rainbow snakes; the Great South Land and the Inland Sea; Ned Kelly; Gallipoli; Uluru and the Azaria case; and the 2000 Olympics. Our... [More]

Before 1066: Anglo-Saxon England

Have you ever wondered where the names for the days of the week came from? Or whether King Alfred the Great really did burn the cakes? The literature, art, religion and society of the Anglo-Saxons are examined in detail, and the truth behind the 1066 and All That is revealed. From their origins in Germany in the 5th century AD to the Battle of Hastings, where William of Normandy was victorious and brought a new culture to England, the story of the Anglo-Saxons is fascinating and... [More]

The Turbulent 17th Century: Caroline and Restoration England

This course examines cultural life in England during one of its most turbulent political and social periods: from the reign of Charles I to the reign of William and Mary. It begins with the outstanding paintings of Van Dyck, court portraitist to Charles and the music of William and Henry Lawes, who served the Caroline court. The Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 coincided with the work of the architectural genius Christopher Wren. Also studied is the poetry of John Dryden, some... [More]

Public and Private Voices: Australia 1800-1900

Journals, diaries, stories and notebooks speak to us of the thoughts and feelings of our early settlers. These voices are intensely individual and project feelings of delight, disgust and misery, in an outspoken and personal way. We get to share the hardships and isolation experienced by these people, wherever they lived, be it the bush or the town. Included are some examples of cartoons, illustrating the importance of humour in this society plus comments from European visitors of... [More]

The Victorians: England from 1830 to 1900

This course aims to look at various aspects of Victorian life. Once scorned, the Victorian period is now seen as a one of great vitality and creativity and a time that saw changes that would prove seismic in their effect upon English political, social and cultural life. The great movements such as Romanticism, Aestheticism, Classic and Gothic Revival, The Industrial Revolution and The Rising Middle Classes with their Houses and Gardens will be studied. Independent Study Discussion... [More]

A Womens’s Sphere: How 19th Century British Women Created a Social Revolution that Changed the Empire

In 19th century Britain and her colonies, the socio-religious doctrine known as “The Two Spheres” was enshrined in law. This doctrine defined the roles of men and women in society. Two clearly delineated spheres – the masculine sphere was the world of action, politics, economics, education and religion; the feminine sphere was the world of hearth and home where women were subservient to father, husband or brother because by law they were deemed to be "minors'; unfit to have an... [More]

Four Interesting Women from the 19th Century

This course looks at the lives of four interesting women living in Australia in the 19th Century. Some biographical information and other sources from the period will be used. One of these women had significant impact in colonial Sydney and two were Irish born, one was quite notorious and the other’s true identity was not revealed until after her death. Those studied will be: Caroline Chisholm, Lola Montez, opera singer Anna Bishop, who had an adventurous life and Dr James Barry.... [More]

Australian Stories 2: The Outback

Robyn Davidson calls the outback Australia’s “mythological crucible”. From the early idea of an inland sea, through the disappointment and fear of the “dead heart” to its modern imagining as a place of beauty, mystery and renewal, the outback has been the most powerful symbol in the Australian psyche. After a historical and psychological introduction, we will explore some of the major narratives about journeys to and in the outback from literature and films of the last fifty years,... [More]

Acts of Subversion: Two 21st Century Australian Novels

Jump into the unknown with novels both modern and provocative. The novel is always new and it may also act as subversive mirror to the past, present and future. In this course we will focus on a close reading and understanding of two new Australian novels, over 5 sessions. The role of the novel in Australia today, the interweaving of ‘real’ and ‘fictional’ characters, the importance of the literary past and the sheer joy in seeing master novelists at work will form partof the our... [More]

Portraits of the Middle Ages and Renaissance: The Life and Achievements of 6 Outstanding Personalities

The Middle Ages and Renaissance saw profound and glorious developments in literature, art and music. This course examines the life and achievement of six outstanding figures of the period: Hildegard of Bingen (writer, composer mystic), Thomas Becket (clerk, chancellor, archbishop and saint), Geoffrey Chaucer (poet and diplomat), Leonardo da Vinci (artist and universal genius), Erasmus of Rotterdam (scholar, writer and satirist) and John Dowland (luteninst and composer). Course... [More]