Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)

Module ENGL43230: Old English Language and Literature

Department: English Studies

ENGL43230: Old English Language and Literature

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap
Tied to


  • <None>


  • <None>

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • <None>


  • to provide an intensive course on Old English language, culture and history;
  • to enable students to gain an understanding of the grammar and syntax of Old English language;
  • to enable students to gain a competent reading knowledge of Old English prose, and to introduce them to the metres and subject matter of verse;
  • to introduce students to examples of some of the major genres in Old English literary and historical writing;
  • to enable students to place these works in their historical, cultural and material contexts. >


  • Each seminar will be structured around a different theme and focused on texts representative of that theme, so that a number of different types of texts will be explored through the course of the module.
  • Themes for study may include: heroic literature, hagiography, homilies, inscriptions, letters, vision literature, historical writing, scientific writing, ‘sense of place’ elegies, riddles, biblical poetry, ‘the supernatural’, devotional poetry. >

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • to gain an understanding of the structures and working of the Old English language;
  • to gain knowledge of some major features of Old English prose and verse;
  • to gain knowledge of the historical, cultural and material contexts in which Old English prose and verse were composed, circulated and preserved. >
Subject-specific Skills:
  • to gain an ability to translate simple 'unseen' passages of Old English prose, supported by a glossary;
  • to translate selected Old English texts and to be able to comment on them, taking account their historical and generic contexts;
  • to translate into modern English. >
Key Skills:
  • an advanced ability to analyse critically;
  • an independence of thought and judgement, and an ability to assess the critical ideas of others;
  • sophisticated skills in critical reasoning;
  • an advanced ability to interpret complex information of diverse kinds;
  • professional organisation and time-management skills. >

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

  • In each two-hour seminar, the first hour will be focused on study of Old English language and the reading of Old English texts, and the second hour will focus on the historical, cultural and material context in which the texts were composed, circulated and preserved
  • Study of Old English language, literature and literary contexts in seminars and in individual preparation and reading will enable students to acquire skills and knowledge as described in the Learning Outcomes.
  • Regular formative assessment (translations, grammar tests, text commentaries) will enable students to assess their progress on the module; the final exam will assess students’ full range of skills in translation and interpretation of Old English language and literature and their knowledge of the subject.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 9 Fortnightly in Michaelmas and Epiphany 2 hours 18
Preparation and reading 282
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Exam Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
One translation and essay paper 3 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Regular passages for translation; occasional grammar tests and passages for written commentary.

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