Accessibility statement

Dante - ENG00141I

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Kenneth Clarke
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

The Italian author Dante Alighieri is one of the most important figures in the history of European literature. His Divine Comedy has achieved a unique status as a classic of Western culture, and has inspired many important authors in English, from Chaucer down to Seamus Heaney.

In this module, we shall study the Comedy together, looking at its structure, how Dante makes his way through the three realms of the afterlife, Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, meeting a whole host of characters along the way, many of whom were well known to Dante and his contemporary readers. We shall concentrate on selected cantos in class, examining their particular contexts and characters, as well as listening to how the poem stylistically works in a range of registers. The poem will be studied in both English and Italian, and part of our class will be dedicated to the study of the basics of Italian grammar and vocabulary, allowing us to get close to Dante’s original text. No prior knowledge of Italian is required.

Major themes covered will be the use of the Florentine vernacular, the role of poetry, the idea of justice, the law, transgression, and what it means to live a good life in society.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

The aim of this module is to introduce you to the work of Dante, exploring in particular his great poem, the Divine Comedy, setting it into the context of some of his other writings, and understanding the overall structure and story of the poem. You will develop your close-reading skills, and acquire a good basic reading knowledge of Italian.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with the work of Dante, including selected cantos of the Comedy in relation to Dante’s other works.

  2. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with relevant cultural and historical contexts.

  3. Examine key debates and critical approaches to the study of Dante.

  4. Develop arguments and ideas which demonstrate a proficiency in critical thinking, research, and writing skills.

  5. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of Italian, and an understanding of some of the key issues in the practice and politics of translation.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay : 2,000-word essay
N/A 70
Open Examination: Multiple choice questions online
N/A 30

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay : 2,000-word essay
N/A 70
Open Examination: Multiple choice questions online
N/A 30

Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours

  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment

Indicative reading

Divine Comedy (trans. Durling & Martinez, 1996-2011);

Vita Nuova (tran. Jewiss, 2022)

De vulgari eloquentia (On Vernacular Eloquence, trans. Botterill, 1996)

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.