Module QXE-1003:
Intro. to Medieval Literature

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Sue Niebrzydowski

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To introduce students to a range of texts from the Old English and Middle English periods.

  2. To study the relationship of these texts to their historical and cultural contexts.

  3. To analyse medieval texts of different genres.

  4. To provide some introduction to the linguistic complexities of the Middle English period.

  5. To introduce students to a range of critical opinion regarding the literature of this period.

Course content

Introduction to Medieval Literature offers students the opportunity to study a variety of Old English literature that is evocative of the intricate decoration on the Staffordshire Anglo-Saxon hoard; riddles, Old English battle poetry and The Dream of The Rood (taught in translation). In the second part of the module students will encounter Middle English drama, romance poetry and Chaucerian verse in its original language. The transition between the Old to the Middle English period will be analysed in terms of specific themes and motifs, such as the development from pagan Germanic heroism to Christian values. Chivalry, the comic and bawdy, and piety will be the main foci in the Middle English part of the course, explored through a range of poetry, prose, drama and life writing. This module is an ideal ‘taster’ for the medieval literature modules available at levels two and three.

Assessment Criteria


Typically, work graded D- to D+ (or 40 to 49) will show many of the following qualities: • Unsure and lacking in confidence when discussing ideas • Referring to the subject in question in a superficial manner • Making an effort to provide fairly balanced answers • Some points in the argument irrelevant to the topic • Little evidence of background reading • Some uncertainty over language and syntax • Strengths and weaknesses fairly balanced; occasionally clumsy and unimaginative • In creative work: superficial • Not succeeding in mastering the requirements of the medium


Typically, work graded B- to B+ (or 60 to 69) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas adeptly • Most of the arguments about a specific field are well-aired • Displays knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is relevant • Shows analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of relevant reading • Shows accuracy in expression with mastery over language. • A few minor errors here and there. • Signs of creative thought deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: shows signs of originality, having understood the requirements of the medium • Plans of well-balanced and full answers, despite some gaps


Typically, work graded A- to A** (or 70 to 100) will show many of the following qualities:

• Discusses ideas with confidence and precision • Demonstrates maturity and sophistication • Displays deep knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is totally relevant • Shows independent, analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of substantial and relevant reading • Shows great accuracy in expression, displaying total mastery over all aspects of the language • Shows occasional signs of brilliance and originality of thought • In creative work: displays considerable originality • Command over medium; may have potential for publication/production

Learning outcomes

  1. Critically analyse literature from unfamiliar eras.

  2. Relate Old and Middle English literature to its historic and cultural contexts.

  3. Possess a basic knowledge of Middle English grammar and vocabulary.

  4. Demonstrate basic skills in translating Middle English.

  5. Write persuasively and concisely on a topic related to the module, in both assessed essay and exam contexts.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Examination 60
One 1,500 word Essay 40

Teaching and Learning Strategy

  1. 2x1 hour lecture per week x 12 weeks
Private study

Students are expected to read primary texts and secondary critical works relating to these in their private study.


The teaching programme consists of 12 weeks of 1-hour seminars.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others


Courses including this module

Optional in courses: