NFI4111 – Old Norse Palaeography and Codicology

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

This course gives an introduction to Old Norse script and its development from c. 1100 to 1550. Students will study manuscripts with various content and types of script. The course will also offer a brief introduction to manuscript production in the Middle Ages, the compilation of manuscripts and the scientific description of manuscripts in catalogues.

Finally, the manuscript culture, which is one of the characteristics of this period, will be treated from the perspective of European cultural history. 

The course syllabus will vary; the reading list will consist of literature amounting to approximately 1,000 pages.

Learning outcome

Students will develop a capacity for reading medieval texts from the manuscripts and gain an understanding of the systems of abbreviation used by medieval scribes.

They will be able to distinguish various kinds of script and gain an understanding of how to determine the relative date and provenance of manuscripts from palaeographical and codicological data.

The course will also develop students’ capacity for analysis and independent thinking when it comes to primary sources.

Students will be given insights into what it means to do research in the field of palaeography and codicology and thus be provided with a basis on which to build their own work in the field.

The course will enable the students to summarize the research debate in an independent, well-considered way, both orally and in writing.

The focus will be on theory and method related to these issues.


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.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

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


Formal prerequisite knowledge

NFI1101 – Norrøn grammatikk og eldre språkhistorie.

Recommended previous knowledge

Experience of reading unnormalized texts in Old Norse, provided in the course NFI2130 – Norse Prose is recommended.


The teaching will to a great extent be group teaching in the form of seminars and individual tutorials and will amount to 36 hours in total. The teaching will be concentrated into intensive blocks, with periods of self study in between. Excursions may also be a part of the course. Students are supposed to contribute with their own presentations and to respond to each other’s work.

One qualifying assignment has to be approved before the student may submit the semester assignment.

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 student’s work will assessed on the basis of a semester assignment. The subject of the assignment will be agreed between the student and the teacher.

The assignment shall comprise 10 pages of approximately 2,300 keystrokes excluding spaces.

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

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in 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

Withdrawal from an examination

A term paper or equivalent that is passed may not be resubmitted in revised form.

If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every spring

Teaching language