Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Schools and colleges

The Final Frontier: Captain Cooks Voyages of Exploration


Humanities & Arts


In 1768, James Cook set sail from Britain on the first of his voyages of exploration to the Pacific Ocean. Over the next decade, Cook led two further expeditions. As well as filling in the blanks on the map of the Pacific – an ocean that covers almost a third of the earth’s surface area – Cook and his men tested scientific theories, collected information, and speculated on the people and places they encountered.

Why this is important?

Cook’s voyages illustrate the value of curiosity. They demonstrate the basic human instinct to travel and to discover. And the information and insights gathered by the expeditions contributed significantly to our knowledge of the Pacific, its islands and its people. Meanwhile, back in Britain, James Cook became the ‘British Columbus’: a powerful and enduring icon of British exploration and empire.

Key descriptors

Exploration; empire; globalisation; Britain; Pacific Ocean

Suggested age range

Years 12 and 13


Related Staff Member

Privacy Settings