Britain and the Spanish Civil War


The Spanish Civil War of 1936-9 pitted the elected Spanish Republican government against the Nationalist rebels lead by General Francisco Franco. Both sides attracted massive military support from other European powers, despite the pretence of the British-sponsored policy of Non-Intervention, and some 32,000 foreign volunteers fought for the Republic. The Civil War polarised opinion along ideological lines, and has been compared to the French Revolution in terms of its impact on British society and politics.

This lecture series will investigate the extent of – and the reasons for – the profound engagement of many British citizens in this conflict. Drawing on recent research and many first-hand accounts from the time, and focusing mainly on supporters of the Republic, the lecture series will range widely across politics, government, humanitarianism, and intellectual and religious life.

Programme details

Tuesdays, 11am–12.30pm (UK time)

For those attending in-person at Rewley House, registration takes place at 10.30am before the first lecture (25 January 2022). Tea and coffee are provided in the Common Room before each lecture, from 10.30am.

For those joining us online, please join in good time before each lecture to ensure that you have no connection problems. We recommend joining 10-15 minutes before the start time. 

 25 January 2022

 Impacts: measuring the public response to the Civil War in Britain, 1936-9

1 February 2022

Intervention and Non-Intervention: the British government and the Civil War

8 February 2022

Between Britain and Spain: volunteers, refugees and humanitarians

15 February 2022

Battle of ideas: anti-fascism, religion and the pressure to “take sides”

22 February 2022

Eye-witnesses: British writers and journalists in Spain

1 March 2022

Still taking sides? The memory of the Civil War in Britain: history, popular culture and commemoration, 1939-2022


Description Costs
Tuition - in-person attendance £125.00
Tuition - virtual attendance £125.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Professor Tom Buchanan

Director of Studies and Tutor

Tom Buchanan is Professor of Modern British and European History at the University of Oxford, and Director of Studies in History and Politics at OUDCE. He is the author of three books and numerous articles on British involvement in the Civil War, and of Europe’s Troubled Peace, since 1945 (2nd edition 2012). He published East Wind: China and the British Left, 1925-1976 with Oxford University Press in 2012. He is currently completing a book on Amnesty International and human rights activism in post-war Britain. He has published an article entitled “The Three Lives of Homage to Catalonia” in The Library, 3, 3, (2002).

IT requirements

You can opt to attend this hybrid teaching event either online (via a livestream) or in person at Rewley House, Oxford. You will be given the option of how you wish to attend during the enrolment process. You can only pick one option. If your preferred attendance format is fully booked, you can email us to be put on the waiting list.

For those joining us online

The University of Oxford uses Microsoft Teams for our learning environment. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Teams interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

If you have not used the Microsoft Teams app before, once you click the joining link you will be invited to download it (this is free). Once you have downloaded the app, please test before the start of your course. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, you will also be offered the option of connecting using a web browser. If you connect via a web browser, Chrome is recommended.