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Viking Poetry - ENG00040M

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Matthew Townend
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2019-20

Module aims

As a primary source for the study of the Viking Age, the poetry composed by the Vikings themselves is unparalleled in terms of both extent and interest. This module will examine a wide range of poetry composed in Old Norse between about 850 and 1050: texts studied will include poems about Norse mythology and heroic legend, praise-poetry for Viking Age kings, Christian poetry and wisdom poetry, and even love poetry and insult poetry. Considerable attention will be paid to the later, written preservation of this essentially oral poetry in manuscripts, sagas, and poetic treatises. Each seminar will address a different theme or topic, but will also be structured around the close and detailed engagement with two or three particular poems (copies of which will be supplied). All texts studied will be available in translation as well as the original, and the module can be taken by students with no prior knowledge of Old Norse.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students will be expected to demonstrate:

  • an understanding of the main features of Old Norse poetry
  • an awareness of the cultural contexts of Old Norse poetry
  • skills in the close reading of Old Norse poetry


Task Length % of module mark
4,500 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
4,500 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

written feedback within 6 weeks of essay submission, and within two weeks for re-assessed work.

Indicative reading

  • Anthony Faulkes (trans.), Snorri Sturluson: Edda (Everyman, 1987)
  • Carolyne Larrington (trans.), The Poetic Edda (Oxford Worlds Classics, 1996)
  • Diana Whaley (ed.), Sagas of Warrior-Poets (Penguin Classics, 2002)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

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