This course is discontinued

MAS2303 – Vinland – Myth and reality

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The course deals with the topic of Vínland, and consists of three main topics: The first part addresses the term and myth about Insula Fortunate (The Fortunate Isles). This is a myth about a Paradise on Earth, located at some islands west of the ocean. The myth has roots in Antiquity, but is revived in an early Christian context, especially after AD 600. This concept is the origins of the Vinland myth. The second part addresses the search for, and discovery of, the Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland by Anne Stine and Helge Ingstad. The third part adresses the historiography, as well as popular and moderen myth-making concerning what is often called The Viking Discovery of America.

Learning outcome

The students shall achieve an understanding that the Vinland phenomenon, as it is commonly known and discussed, is not limted to a few Viking ships reaching eastern Canada some time around AD 1000. Rather, the Vinland issue is part of a much larger, European (and Levanthian) myth cycle, and an essential part of the Christian mental universe, covering a period of of 1500 years. The students are expected to know about the central works in this tradition, and the historiography of the Vinland research, and the main lines of discourse. The literature, classes and seminars will be based on material from several disciplines.


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.

Singular course students may register for the course from 15 January 2010, depending on capacity.


Recommended previous knowledge

Some reading ability in Nordic languages will be useful, but is no absolute requirement.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with MAS4303 – Vinland – Myth and reality (discontinued)


The teaching will be organized around the three main topics desribed above. The course consists of lectures (7 x 2 hours) and seminars (3 x 2 hours). The students’ written work is an integrated part of the course. Each seminar will be based on a group presentation, followed by a plenary discussion.

Compulsory assignments: A first draft of the semester assignment is to be submitted halfway through the semester. It is not possible to sit for the exam unless the qualification assignment has been approved.

Deadlines will be published in the detailed teaching plan. Fronter will be used in this course.

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 examination consists of an integrated assessment where the grade is given on the basis of a term paper that the student has written, under the guidance of a supervisor, during the semester (10 pages of text, 2300 letters per page, without spacing). The assignment will be available at the start of the semester.

The student must hand in an Obligatory statement regarding cheating along with the term paper.

The assessment is integrated in the course lessons and it is therefore not possible to sit for the exam unless the student is registered for the teaching component of the course.

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Language of examination

Papers may be submitted in English or in Scandinavian languages.

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.

Students can ask for an explanation of the grade. This must be done within a week after the grade was made known to the student. To obtain the explanation, send an e-mail to It is up to the sensor whether the explanation will be given orally or in writing. The student's e-mail must contain information of an e-mail address and a telephone number he or she can be reached on.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.


This course is well suited for combination within archaeology or other disciplines dealing with European Viking and Medieval cultural history.

40-group – Middelalderenskulturhistorie (40MIDKULTH) (this course group no longer admits students)


Facts about this course







Teaching language