Education in Britain
In England and Wales compulsory school begins at the age of five, but before that age children can go to a nursery school, also called play school. School is compulsory till the children are 16 years old.
In Primary School and First School children learn to read and write and the basis of arithmetic. In the higher classes of Primary School (or in Middle School) children learn geography, history, religion and, in some schools, a foreign language. Then children go to the Secondary School.
When students are 16 years old they may take an exam in various subjects in order to have a qualification. These qualifications can be either G.C.S.E. (General Certificate of Secondary Education) or "O level" (Ordinary level). After that students can either leave school and start working or continue their studies in the same school as before. If they continue, when they are 18, they have to take further examinations which are necessary for getting into university or college.
Some parents choose private schools for their children. They are very expensive but considered to provide a better education and good job opportunities.
In England there are 47 universities, including the Open University which teaches via TV and radio, about 400 colleges and institutes of higher education. The oldest universities in England are Oxford and Cambridge. Generally, universities award two kinds of degrees: the Bachelor's degree and the Master's degree.
There is a considerable choice of post-school education in Britain. In addition to universities, there are also polytechnics and a series of different types of assisted colleges, such as colleges of technology, art, etc., which tend to provide more work-orientated courses than universities.
Some of these courses are part-time, with the students being released by their employers for one day a week or longer periods.
Virtually all students on full-time courses receive grants or loans from the Government which cover their tuition fees and everyday expenses (accommodation, food, books, etc.).
Universities in Britain enjoy complete academic freedom, choosing their own staff and deciding which students to admit, what and how to teach, and which degrees to award (first degrees are called Bachelor degrees). They are mainly government-funded, except for the totally independent University of Buckingham.
There is no automatic admission to university, as there are only a limited number of places (around 100,000) available each year. Candidates are accepted on the basis of their A-level results. Virtually all degree courses are full-time and most last three years (medical and veterinary courses last five or six years).
Students who obtain their Bachelor degree (graduates) can apply to take a further degree course, usually involving a mixture of exam courses and research. There are two different types of postgraduate courses — the Master's degree (MA or MSc) and higher degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
British Art, Theatre, Music
There was little pictorial art in England until the great miniaturists of the Tudor epoch. There were portraits on a large scale, but they were in the main, of foreign origin, notably Dutch like Holbein. Then came Hogarth, the first great native painter born at the end of the 17th century, famous for both engravings and oil paintings, he was followed by Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) famous for his portraits.
If Hogarth was the artist of the towns, Gainsborough, contemporary of Reynolds, was the painter of the countryside, frequently the background to his portraits. In a similar tradition was Stubbs, as famous for his portraits of horses as of people.
Among the other portraitists of the 18th century were Romney, and Rae-burn. Constable (1776-1837) finally gave landscape painting its importance. Among his near-contemporaries, though a little younger, were William Blake, poet, visionary and painter, and Turner, renowned above all for his naval scenes.
The modern period in British art may be said to date from the year 1910, when the first Post-Impressionist Exhibition was held in London.
The first decade of the century had been dominated by two romanticists, Frank Brangwyn and Augustus John and by the sculptor Jacob Epstein who became a protagonist of modernity. The two painters may, to some extent, have been influenced by Gauguin, Epstein was essentially an expressionist.
Such modern painte
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