Heroes, Outlaws, and Outsiders: Old English and Old Icelandic Literature in Translation ENGLANG4035

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course provides an introduction to the wealth of literature provided by two Germanic societies, medieval Iceland and pre-Conquest England. It offers a comparative approach based on the recurring and resonant themes in these literatures of heroism, loss, and separation from society. Texts (which normally include extracts from Beowulf, the Exeter Book shorter poems, Njal's Saga, and Grettir's Saga), are discussed and analysed in translation.


14x1hr lectures; 6x1hr seminars over ten weeks as scheduled on MyCampus.


This is one of the Honours options in English Language and Linguistics and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into English Language and Linguistics or successful completion of English Literature Junior Honours, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses

ENGLANG4010 Old English Literature

ENGLANG4011 Old Icelandic 


Examination (150 minutes) - 75%

Commentary (2000 words) - 25%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ focus on and compare a variety of texts produced in medieval Iceland and pre-Conquest England which share specific themes or concerns;

■ explore the social and historical context which gave rise to these texts

■ consider issues raised by the circumstances relating to a text's production, transmission or preservation;

■ compare a variety of translations of individual texts.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ situate a specific work within its historical, social and cultural context;

■ analyse, compare, and contrast texts from related cultures, focusing on a specific issue, theme, or topic;

■ evaluate the significance of language nuance, translation and editing strategy in the analysis of a text;

■ evaluate the importance of issues relating to preservation, transmission or manuscript context of particular texts for their understanding.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.