Heroes and Exiles: English Poetry of the Age of Beowulf (EAS3152)

StaffProfessor Eddie Jones - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module offers an introduction to Anglo-Saxon poetry, with an emphasis on heroic tropes and traditions, and with Beowulf as a regular reference-point. Texts will be studied in translation, but students will deepen their appreciation of the literature by learning the basics of the Old English language.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. identify the principal themes and tropes of Old English heroic literature, and relate them to other cultural forms of the period
  • 2. demonstrate an informed appreciation of specific texts from the Anglo-Saxon period
  • 3. demonstrate a capacity to make detailed connections among a range of Old English poems, and to relate them to their cultural context
  • 4. show an appreciation of the potential of the Old English language for literary expression

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. demonstrate an advanced ability to analyse the literature of an earlier era and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical and cultural context.
  • 6. demonstrate an advanced ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history
  • 7. demonstrate an advanced ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. through seminar work demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups
  • 9. through essay writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, an advanced capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 10. through research for seminars and assessed work, demonstrate advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis

Syllabus plan

1. Meet the Anglo-Saxons
2. The heroic age
3. Blood feud
4. Caedmon and Anglo-Saxon religious poetry
5. Woman as hero
6. Jesus as hero
7. Exile
8. Women exiles
9. The Exeter Book Riddles
10. Beowulf
11. Heroism in the Viking Age

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities33Seminars
Guided Independent Study33Seminar Group Preparation
Guided Independent Study70Seminar Preparation (individual)
Guided Independent Study164Reading, Research and Essay Preparation

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
A pastiche of a heroic speech or description 10500 words1a-b, 2a-c, 3b-cFeedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.
An essay on a particular text or extract301500 words1b-d, 2a-c, 3b-cFeedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.
An essay on one of the module themes604000 words1b-d, 2a-c, 3b-cFeedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
A pastiche of a heroic speech or description 101a-b, 2a-c, 3b-cReferral/deferral period
An essay on a particular text or extract301b-d, 2a-c, 3b-cReferral/deferral period
An essay on one of the module themes601b-d, 2a-c, 3b-cReferral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Reading:

Kevin Crossley-Holland, The Anglo-Saxon World: an anthology (Oxford World's Classics, 1999)

Seamus Heaney/Daniel Donoghue, Beowulf: A verse translation (Norton, 2002)


Secondary Reading:

Peter S. Baker, Introduction to Old English (Blackwell, 2007)

Richard North & Joe Allard, Beowulf & Other Stories (Pearson, 2007)

James Campbell et al, The Anglo-Saxons (Penguin, 1991)

Malcolm Godden & Michael Lapidge, Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature (Cambridge, 1991)

Michael Lapidge, Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Peter Baker's learning Old English site: http://faculty.virginia.edu/OldEnglish/index.html

Available as distance learning?


Key words search

Beowulf, Old English, Anglo-Saxon, Hero, Exile