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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MEDV5245M Old Norse

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Alaric Hall

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

The Viking world stretched from Constantinople to North America, and the Old Icelandic literature which arose from it gives us some of our fullest insights into any medieval society. This module will provide you with the linguistic and critical skills you need to study Old Norse texts in the original, from Viking-Age runic inscriptions to later medieval sagas, underpinning research in medieval history, literature, and culture, and in medievalism. No previous experience of language study is required. Through reading passages of texts in the original and more widely in translation, you will gain a thorough understanding of the range of genres produced in and about the Viking world. Seminar discussions and assessments will give you the opportunity to develop your own research interests in Viking and medieval Scandinavian culture.


- To enable primary research at MA and PhD level using texts written in Old Norse
- The ability to translate and interpret Old Norse texts.
- A deep and critical understanding of Old Norse prose writing in a range of genres, including mythology, history, romance, and runic inscriptions.

Learning outcomes
- A thorough understanding of Old Norse grammar and the metalanguage used to describe it
- Acquaintance with a full range of Old Norse genres, from Viking-Age runic inscriptions to late medieval sagas
- Familiarity with the scholarly resources for advanced original-language study of Old Norse texts


- This is a research skills module, designed to be responsive to the abilities and research plans of the MA and PhD students taking it.
- It will be delivered through eleven weekly two-hour seminars. Each seminar will focus on a different text, covering a range of genres. A passage will be set for translation from Old Norse, and the whole text from which the passage is taken will be read in translation.
- Seminars will involve close linguistic and critical analysis of original-language passages, moving to wider discussion of the text from which the passage is taken.
- An indicative list of texts to be read would include: Snorra Edda, the Poetic Edda, Völsunga saga, Eyrbyggja saga, the Ingvar runestones, and Bergen rune-staves.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students will begin their study of Old Norse using the modern Icelandic mp3 course developed for this purpose, available at
Students will proceed to translating passages from set texts as preparation for each language seminar, and read appropriate primary literature in translation, along with secondary literature, in preparation for literary, historical, and/or linguistic discussion of the texts.
A substantial amount of private study will be devoted to work towards the assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students' weekly presentation of translations in language seminars will enable close monitoring of progress. This will be underpinned by unassessed online homework exercises, submission of one unassessed translation in each term, and class tests.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PortfolioAt the end of the module, students will put forward two of their weekly language-learning assignments for final assessment50.00
Essay1 x 3,000-word essay due by 12 noon Monday50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:25:10


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