Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module THEO42830: Middle Egyptian

Department: Theology and Religion

THEO42830: Middle Egyptian

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To enable independent and competent use of literary sources composed in Middle Egyptian by students working in cognate fields.
  • To give a solid grounding in Middle Egyptian language and the hieroglyphic writing system.
  • To introduce the key elements of ancient Egyptian literature and thought.


  • Language classes will introduce the basic elements of the script and of Middle Egyptian grammar, initially through exercises and then through the reading of short documentary texts in hieroglyphic script.
  • Subsequently, students will expand their knowledge of hieroglyphs and develop their understanding of the language through the reading of select literary texts in hieroglyphic transcription, and through more detailed work on one text with individual tutorial assistance.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A working knowledge of Middle Egyptian grammar.
  • An understanding of the hieroglyphic script and familiarity with common signs.
  • A general knowledge of Egyptian literature and thought in the Middle and early New Kingdom periods.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The ability to read and comprehend a literary text in Middle Egyptian with the aid of a dictionary and sign-list.
Key Skills:
  • Enhanced linguistic ability arising from engagement with a difficult and unfamiliar language.
  • Enhanced skills in problem-solving.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Middle Egyptian is straightforward in terms of accidence, but the script and syntax are conceptually difficult and require both practice and explanation. The classes in the first term will tie explanations of the concepts to preparation of texts and exercises by students, to ensure a firm grounding and basic familiarity with both the language and the cultural context. At the end of this term, students will be set texts for preparation in the second term, which will be discussed in seminars, enabling students to work together in solving particular problems or issues. At the same time, students will work individually on producing a commentary on one text, which will focus on features of the script and language, but also discuss relevant questions of genre and historical/ideological significance. They will be assisted in writing this by the provision of guidance on reading, with opportunities to discuss their progress in tutorials. These three processes together are designed to inculcate the knowledge and skills outlined in the learning outcomes, and the achievement of those outcomes will be assessed through the completed commentary.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
language classes 10 1 per week in Michaelmas 1 hour 10
text seminars 4 1 per fortnight in Epiphany 2 hours 8
tutorials 2 twice in Epiphany by arrangement 1 hour 2
Reading and preparation 280
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: 5000 word commentary on a text. Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
commentary 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Class preparation of exercises and texts.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University