HIS4129 – Topics in Early Medieval Culture

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

The early Middle Ages was the period that witnessed the profound transformation of Europe in economic, social, and political spheres. Last but not the least, a radical cultural change took place in those centuries, whereby a new world of Christian Europe was built upon the remnants of the classical civilization. Many cultural traits of that world have survived into modern times and are repeatedly invoked in modern debates on European identity. Moreover, the new cultural history, a new historiographic trend gaining popularity from the 1990s, has made medieval culture a field of historiographic research as important as medieval political or economic history. It is not surprising therefore that various topics of early medieval culture have attracted growing interest among medievalists in the past few decades. This interest combined with new methodological insights have thus made the history of early medieval culture a vibrant academic field both in Europe and North America.

Learning outcome

This course aims to familiarize students with a number of topics pertaining to early medieval cultural history such as political culture, ritual, cult of saints, magic, visual art, literacy, orality, and various forms of visual communication. Some of them have been focusing points of ardent academic discussion in the past two decades. The course will therefore not only overview those selected topics of early medieval cultural history but also introduce students to on-going theoretical debates in that field – such as the nature and role of early medieval rituals and the interplay between literary texts and other media, between word and image, and between literacy and orality. Students will also learn to critically read relevant academic literature and to participate in related oral discussions in English.

The course is intended for students with a working knowledge of English, who have already taken introductory survey courses in medieval history and are familiar with the factual and chronological framework of European history between c.300 to c.1000.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Recommended previous knowledge

A good ability to read and communicate in English is required for this course.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with HIS2129 – Topics in Early Medieval Culture


The course will be taught in the form of twelve two-hour seminars, consisting of discussions, exercises, and group work. Students are expected to attend all classes and prepare compulsory readings for each class. 

Resources and information in this course will be provided via Canvas.


Compulsory requirements:

  • Active participation in discussions and group work (6 active participations minimum per course), which is based on the compulsory readings. To complete this, one must attend minimum 9 out of 12 seminars.
  • More information about the obligatory activities will be announced at the first class.

This is how you apply for a valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance 

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


The exam in HIS4129 is comprised of two term papers. The first paper will be submitted in the first part of the term and counts for 40% of the final grade. The length of the first paper should be approximately 6 standard pages (2300 characters without spacing).The final 3-days take-home exam at the end of the term will be counted as the second course paper and it counts for 60% of the final grade. The length of the final exam should be approximately 10 standard pages (2300 characters without spacing). The exam questions will be posted at 11 AM on the first day of the exam. 

More information about the course papers will be announced at the first meeting.


Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Autumn 2021

The course is offered on an irregular basis.


Autumn 2021

Teaching language