Medieval Literature: Other Worlds ENGLANG4042

  • 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 examines the way medieval English authors thought about the world around them, envisioned faraway lands they might never see with their own eyes, and imagined supernatural realms. It brings in multiple voices and world views, to show that the medieval period was not a monoculture but was rich and diverse. The texts studied will be contextualised within the societies in which they were produced and received. But we will also pay attention to how, when studying Middle English texts, we ourselves encounter another world, strange yet familiar in many ways too. Topics covered differ each year, but might include: fairy realms, dream visions, religious visions, magical technologies, travel and exploration, the supernatural, Arthurian otherworlds, and apocalyptic hellscapes.


1x1hr lecture; 1x1hr seminar per week over 10 weeks, as scheduled on MyCampus.


This is one of the Honours options in English Language & 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 & Linguistics and English Literature, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses

ENGLANG4009 Medieval Literature 2

ENGLANG3003 Medieval Other Worlds Non-Honours




Text translation and commentary (1,000 words) - 25%

Portfolio (consisting of an outline, a scripted podcast of 10-12 min., and a bibliography) - 75%

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:

■ give students the opportunity to analyse texts from the Middle English period in the original language;

■ interpret the ways in which texts from the Middle English period engage with contemporary historical events and/or linguistic developments in the period;

■ consider texts from the Middle English period in the light of contemporary literary criticism;

■ give students a well-developed understanding of the idea of 'other worlds' in medieval literature and culture, and of key texts and genres related to this theme.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ translate and comment on select passages of Middle English literary texts;

■ analyse (in writing and orally) medieval texts within the cultural, social, linguistic, and literary milieux in which they were produced;

■ apply the approaches and techniques available to and used by critics and commentators in the interpretation of these texts;

■ exercise sophisticated analytical skills through detailed close reading;

■ plan and perform a small-scale research project, with findings communicated clearly and effectively.

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.