Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Italian)


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Italian Language 1B (ITAL1102) AND Italian Language 1A (ITAL1071) OR an equivalent qualification to the satisfaction of the Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes: Italian language 2B (ITAL2031) OR Italian Language 2A (ITAL2111). Others: see Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or her/his representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • N/A


  • To offer a comprehensive overview of the development of written and spoken Italian from its first appearance in medieval written vernaculars to the present day.
  • To make students aware of the wider geographical, social, political, and cultural implications of the phenomenon of written and oral communication in Italy.
  • To help students recognize and assess linguistic diversity through the analysis of a wide selection of (primarily) non-literary as well as literary texts.
  • To help students overcome linguistic difficulties they are bound to encounter in reading texts for other modules.
  • To give students a first brush with the nature and diffusion of Italian dialects and their dissemination also in Italian communities outside of Italy.
  • To serve as a useful introduction to Italy's current linguistic situation in order to prepare students for their year abroad.


  • The module aims to offer an introduction to the Italian language in its current as well as its historical varieties. The position of Italian is first assessed in relation (as well as in opposition) to the ancient and modern languages of Europe.
  • A brief outline of its development across the centuries is given. Subsequently the earliest monuments of the Italian language - a selection of short and/or fragmentary texts produced through a variety of media (ink, graffiti, painting) and preserved by a variety of supports (paper, parchment, stone, walls, etc.) - are assessed in respect to their linguistic, geographical, social and cultural significance.
  • An anthology of texts, selected as representative of different geographical and cultural situations and including modern as well as contemporary examples of language production, will provide the main basis of enquiry for this module. This enquiry may consider literary texts, but will on the whole privilege non-literary ones.
  • Attention will also be given to those aspects of material culture that are supposed to favour or affect, or even determine, the production of meaning and expression through language.
  • Language production will be primarily seen in its social and cultural dimensions, and texts analysed in the intent of gathering relevant information on lesser known or less obvious aspects of Italian culture.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • acquire a sense of the development of Italian from its origin to the present day.
  • gain familiarity with the notion of diversity in language.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • develop a linguistic sensitivity enabling them to recognize and assess Italian texts of various provenance.
Key Skills:
  • • be able to make effective use of reference works such as dictionaries, repertoires, glossaries etc.

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

  • Weekly lectures will introduce principles of linguistic description which will be applied to the analysis of texts during fortnightly seminars.
  • In fortnightly seminars students will be asked to work independently on circumscribed topics and to do presentations in class reporting on the results of their research work.
  • An historical outline of the history of Italian in the broader European context will provide the general background for the subsequent concentration on the analysis of selected texts.
  • Students will be introduced to the use of the tools of linguistic research.
  • The summative essay will enable students to demonstrate and develop their knowledge of the subject and the final written examination will enable them to demonstrate their knowledge of particular set texts.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 21 Weekly 1 hour 21
Seminar 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Student preparation and reading time 169
Total SLAT hours 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2,000 words 100% Yes
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2,500 words 100% Yes

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