ENG4165 – Old English: Language and History

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Discover the force of an old Germanic language! This course takes you to the period from the Viking incursions c. year 800 to the Norman conquest of Britain in 1066. You will learn the basics of English as it was then – a very different language from what it is now. We will study the morphological and syntactic structure of the language, and you will learn to read, translate and pronounce a variety of texts. Language does not exist independently of people and events, and the relation between language and history was especially close in this period. Hence, the course also includes a historical part (20%), in which we focus on the consequences of historical events on the status and development of the English language.

This is a course that requires systematic and diligent study throughout the term, but it gives you access to a very interesting linguistic and historical period. Through studying an older stage of the language, you will also be able to view modern English in a new light.

Learning outcome

After completing this course, you:

  • can account for the morphological and syntactic structure of Old English
  • can account for the pronunciation of Old English and pronounce it yourself
  • can translate simple texts
  • can identify the key historical figures and events in the Old English period, and explain their impact


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.


One hour lecture and two hour group sessions per week for thirteen weeks, 39 hours in all.

Obligatory activities:

  • Attendance is obligatory 10 out of 13 seminars, and 10 out of 13 lectures. Active participation is expected.
  • Within a specified date, students are asked to submit two obligatory assignments. In addition, students will be asked to complete a number of smaller assignments throughout the term.
  • Additional absences must be justified to the exam coordinator. Read more about rules concerning valid excuses and how to apply for approved absences or postponements. Please note that absence exceeding 50 % of all seminars may not be approved, regardless of any excuses.


There will be a 4-hour written exam at the end of the term. The language part counts 80% towards the final grade, and the history part counts 20%.

(The assessment guidelines for this course will be made available on Canvas after the 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.

Examination support material

Macmillan Dictionary will be offered in the digital examination system Inspera. You are not allowed to bring your own dictionary to the exam.

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

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language