Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module ENGL53030: Old Norse

Department: English Studies

ENGL53030: Old Norse

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap 10


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • to provide an intensive one-term introduction to the Old Norse language, culture and history;
  • to provide a basis for the module ENGL 41330 Warrior Poets in Heroic Societies;
  • to enable students to gain an understanding of the grammar and syntax of the Old Norse language;
  • to enable students to gain a competent reading knowledge of Old Norse prose, and to introduce them to the metres and subject matter of verse;
  • to introduce students to examples of some of the major literary genres in Old Norse literature;
  • to enable students to place these works in their historical and cultural context.


  • The seminars will include a period devoted to study of the Old Norse language and one devoted to translation of a set text and to discussion of its literary, cultural and historical issues. Typically the set text will be Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu ('The Saga of Gunnlaugr Snake-Tongue') but other texts may be substituted.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • to gain an understanding of the structures and working of the Old Norse language;
  • to gain knowledge of some major features of Old Norse literature.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • to gain an ability to translate simple 'unseen' passages of Old Norse prose;
  • to translate selected Old Norse literary works in prose and verse and to be able to comment on them, taking into account their historical and generic contexts;
  • to translate into fluent modern English.
Key Skills:

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

    • Through a variety of teaching activities and approaches, seminars will facilitate the development of communication and critical skills. Sessions will introduce language issues as well as broad topics and genres, contexts and frameworks to aid conceptual understanding and specific texts for analysis as well as encourage individual interpretation and enquiry. A three hour examination will assess the competencies and outcomes outlined above and foster advanced independent study.
    • Typically, directed learning may include assigning student(s) a translation passage, an issue, theme or topic that can be independently or collectively explored within a framework and/or with additional materials provided by the tutor. This may function as preparatory work for presenting their translations, ideas or findings (sometimes electronically) to their peers and tutor in the context of a seminar.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Seminars 9 Weekly in Michaelmas 2 hours 18
    Independent student research supervised by the Module Convenor 10
    Preparation and Reading 272
    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:

    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