The Magna Carta and its Legacy

This course aims to lead students into a greater appreciation for and an understanding of Magna Carta and its significance around the globe, as we approach the 800th anniversary of its sealing. The course examines why Magna Carta was radical in its day, why it has been a source of numerous debates, and why this anniversary is being celebrated in the present.

About The Course

In 1215, King John sealed Magna Carta by the Thames at Runnymede in Surrey, a charter between the monarch and his Barons placing limits on his power over freeborn men in the kingdom. Magna Carta enshrined the principle that all people should be bound by the rule of law, including the monarch, and that the processes of justice must be applied to all. Many political thinkers have celebrated Magna Carta as the first example of a bill of rights, an ancient constitution. 

This introductory course, based on a new level 5 course Commemorating the Past that will be offered for the first time in 2014-15, examines the historical roles that Magna Carta has played, and the importance of Magna Carta today. Members of the History Department at Royal Holloway, a college of the University of London, will deliver the course. In addition to the lectures with an explicit historical focus, the lecture in week four will explore the continuing international significance of Magna Carta, and of Runnymede, through interviews with members of the Geography Department, the Politics and International Relations Department, experts in the history of law, and others. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What resources will I need for this class? 
For this course, all you need is an Internet connection, the time to read, write, reflect and discuss, and willingness to contribute to the mutual learning experience. 

Can I gain credit for this course? 
This is intended to be an introductory outreach course, taken on an extramural basis. No credits will be awarded. 

What can I earn for completing this course?
You can earn a Verified Certificate by verifying your work with a risk-free, no obligation Signature Track trial. Payment for Signature Track can be made anytime until the week before the course ends — so you’ll be more certain that you’ll earn your Verified Certificate. If you choose not to verify your work, you can still participate in the complete course. While your final score will be noted on your course records page, this course will not offer a Statement of Accomplishment. 
Where can I find more information regarding the University of London and its programmes? 

The University of London is a federal University which includes 18 world leading Colleges, who offer many levels of study including foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, as well as diplomas and research degrees. 

It is, however, not essential to be in London to study for a University of London degree. 

The University of London International Programmes was founded in 1858 and is the world's oldest provider of flexible learning. Its programmes have enriched the lives of thousands of students by offering the opportunity to study for a University of London degree from anywhere in the world. 

These programmes result from a collaboration between the University of London International Academy and 12 Colleges of the University of London. Today there are 54,000 students in 190 countries studying through the University of London International Programmes, for more than 100 qualifications at degree, higher education diploma and certificate level. For more information, please 

The 'Magna Carta and its Legacy' course has been developed in collaboration with Royal Holloway, University of London, one of the Colleges of the University. For more information on Royal Holloway please visit:

Recommended Background

No background is required; all are welcome!