HIS4143 – What caused the Viking Age?

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Scholars have stated that the Vikings are the Scandinavian contribution to the global history. There can be little doubt that the Vikings made an enduring mark on European history in the years c. 800-1050. Rather than giving the attention to the Vikings’ activity abroad, this course will on Scandinavian society, and on the causes of the Viking Age. We will look at four different aspects of Scandinavian society:

  • Politics. The political development in Scandinavia c. 800-1050, and the superior position of the Danish kings.
  • Social structure. Scandinavian society was highly stratified (kings/chieftains, householders and trells). How was social status displayed?
  • Old Norse religion and the Christianization process. Why was the introduction of Christianity so important to the kings?, How did the new religion affect the Viking mentality?
  • Economy and trade. Leadership in Viking Age society depended on the display of wealth. Leaders needed riches and luxury goods in order to win the fierce competition in consumption.

Learning outcome

In this course you will:

  • learn the basic outlines of the political and social history in Scandinavia c. 800-1050
  • develop your ability to evaluate and discuss the use of different types of source material
  • learn to analyse and discuss political changes
  • give a presentation on central themes in the scholarly debate


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.

Overlapping courses

9 credits overlap with HIS2143 – What caused the Viking Age?


The course will be taught in the form of 12 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars/group work, which will focus on Viking Age sources. In addition there will be one two hour introductory session in the beginning of the semester.

The students are expected to attend all seminars and lectures, read the obligatory literature, and participate actively in seminar discussions and other activities.

More detailed information about these activities will be given in the seminar.


3-days take-home exam:

  • The students have three days to write an assignment.
  • The exam question will be published on this page. For information about the time and date of the exam, please consult the semester page. Click on the relevant semester at the top of this page, and go to "Examination: Time and place."
  • The length of the assignment should be 6-10 standard pages (one standard page is 2300 characters without spacing).
  • The exam is to be handed in in Canvas. The file must be submitted in .pdf-format and we stress that the student is responsible for making sure that the files are readable.
  • If you need assistance in converting your file into .pdf, we recommend that you follow these instructions. The file must be named with your candidate number (not your name) and the course code (HIS2143).
  • You can find your candidate number by logging on to StudentWeb. Please note that you get a different candidate number for each exam.

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.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






This course is offered on an irregular basis

Teaching language