Introduction to Old English Literature

University of Reading

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Introduction to Old English Literature

  • Host University

    University of Reading

  • Location

    Reading, England

  • Area of Study

    English, Literature

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Module Provider: English Literature
    Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
    Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
    Non-modular pre-requisites: English Part 1 or A-Level (A*, A or B)
    Modules excluded:
    Module version for: 2016/7

    Summary module description:
    This module introduces students to the period of English literature that is often the most unfamiliar: the Old English or Anglo-Saxon period (c.7th-11th century). Old English literature is richly rewarding, not just because it has been an important influence on many twentieth-century writers (most famously) J.R.R. Tolkien), but because its literary techniques and themes (female heroes, battles with Vikings, dragons, voyages of exile) are different to much later English literature. This module allows students to explore the literature of a time when England was part of the culture of the North.

    This module aims to provide students with an understanding of selected Old English texts. studied in different translations and in parallel Old English and Modern English. No previous knowledge of Old English or of Anglo-Saxon English history is required. It seems to promote an analytical awareness of some of the main characteristics and themes of Old English poetry, and of the interpretative possibilities and problems raised by the process of translation.

    Assessable learning outcomes:
    Assessable outcomes
    By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:
    ? demonstrate an understanding of the themes of selected texts studied in translation
    ? develop skills of textual analysis in comparing translations of selected text
    ? recognise issues involved in translating Old English texts into Modern English
    ? engage critically with ideas presented in seminars and secondary materials
    ? organize and articulate a cogent argument in written work.
    Additional outcomes:
    Oral and written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. Students will be encouraged to develop skills of oral communication and effective participation in group work. they will also enhance their IT competence through the use of relevant web resources and databases and the word-processing of assessed work.

    Outline content:
    The module involves the study of a selection of Old English texts in translation, taken from The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volme 1, inclduing Beowulf in Seamus Heaney's now-famous translation. The course is primarily designed as an introduction to the literary study of these texts: translations of the texts will be used and assessments will not demand that students use the Old English Language, but students will be introduced to the dominant characteristics of Old English so that they can understand the major issues in translating these texts. We will examine the stylistic features and themes of a variety of genres, prose and poetry, and attempt to place the texts we study in their literary and historical contexts.

    Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
    The module is taught through seminars involving structured group discussion, seminar papers and/or oral reports, for which students are required to do preparatory reading. Student are entitled to a half-hour tutorial on their formative essay. With the consent of the module convenor, students may also undertake a placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University.

    Contact hours:
    Lectures 5
    Seminars 17
    Tutorials 0.5
    Guided independent study 139.5
    Total hours by term 162

    Summative Assessment Methods:
    Written exam 67
    Written assignment including essay 33

    Other information on summative assessment:
    Summative Assessment Methods (%) - work which always contributes towards the overall module mark:

    Formative assessment methods:
    Formative Assessment Methods - work which provides opportunities to improve performance (e.g. through feedback provided) but which does not necessarily always contribute towards the overall module mark: Students write one formative essay, of approximately 1500 words. Written feedback is provided and the student has the option of requesting a one-to-one tutorial for additional advice. Feeback will also be provided on the assessed essay of 1800-2000 words, or on the equivalent placement report.

    Length of examination:
    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of at least 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August. Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Otherwise it must be resubmitted by 22 August.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.


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