NFI4122 – Runology - Runic Inscriptions of the Middle Ages

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

The runes were a writing system used by a number of Germanic peoples from the second century AD throughout the Middle Ages. This course covers the last phase of the runic tradition in Scandinavia from ca. 1050 to the Reformation. In addition to a close study of representative inscriptions from this period, the runic writing tradition will be studied in the context of the far-reaching social and cultural developments that happened during this time, in particular the introduction of the Latin language and of the Latin alphabet.

We will study in detail the relationship between the runic and the Latin written culture, and analyze how the Scandinavian vernacular and Latin, as well as the runes and the Latin alphabet were used in society. How did these two written cultures influence one another? What was their mutual status? To what degree were medieval Scandinavians proficient in both languages and scripts?

Learning outcome

During this course, the students will acquire

  • specific skills in reading and interpreting runic inscriptions from the Middle Ages.
  • an in-depth knowledge of the developments that the runic writing system went through during this period. 
  • insights into the complex relationship between the medieval runic and the Latin written cultures.
  • Moreover, the students will gain familiarity with different research tools such as runic editions and databases.


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 or NFI4120 – Old Norse - language and texts. It is possible to take the course parallel to NFI4120.

Recommended previous knowledge

Some basic knowledge of runology is recommended but is not obligatory.

If you do not have previous knowledge in runology, please contact the lecturer for the current semester for information on how to prepare in advance. The lecturer's name can be found in the timetable on the semester page. 

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with NFI2102 – Runology - Runic Inscriptions of the Middle Ages


The teaching is given in 14 double lectures and seminars, 28 hours in all.

Students must submit an individual reading list within a set deadline. The reading list must be approved by the teacher.

A qualifying assignment has to be approved before the student may take the final exam.

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.


NB! Due to the situation with Covid-19, the exam might not be organized exactly as described below during the spring semester 2021. Students will be informed of any changes.

The final exam is a trial lecture. The student will be given a topic and prepare a 20 minutes’ lecture.

The lecture shall be given in a conference room and will be open to the public; students, scholars and others who might be interested.

The given topic will be related to data (runes and runic inscriptions) and theories about the data.

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 trial lecture may be held in English or any of the 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.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, 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 other spring starting 2011


Every other spring starting 2011

Teaching language