Medieval English Literature in the Classroom

Course name

Medieval English Literature in the Classroom




5/6 ECTS

Course date

semester 2 (2023 - 2024)

Registration open until

27/10/2023 - 07/01/2024 Students are highly recommended to also take the MasterLanguage course ‘Language Variation and Change from Old to Middle English’ (semester I, block 2) for 5/6 ECTS.




Thijs Porck (UL) / Marcelle Cole (UU) / Kees Dekker (RUG)

E-mail contact

Thijs Porck (UL)

Course objectives

Completing the course successfully, the student will:

  • know how to translate current research in the field of medieval English literature and medievalism, specifically with regard to the particular themes studied in the module, into a classroom setting (at either secondary school level or university level);
  • know about the conditions of that research (methodologies, current debates, the individuals active in the field), and will be familiar with a number of sources that need to be consulted to conduct that research;
  • gain experience in developing lesson and/or educational material that is based on academic insights into medieval literature;
  • be able to formulate ideas about integrating medieval literature in modern teaching practice. in an ideal position to prepare and write an MA paper that contributes to current debates in the field.

Course content

Medieval English Literature in the Classroom is suitable for students with an interest in Medieval English literature and medieval studies. It enables ambitious MA students to explore in depth an area in the field of medieval English Studies that may play a vital role in their future careers, as teachers, writers, translators, or researchers. This course will help students develop their own educational material, their abilities to incorporate academic scholarship into their teaching, to reflect critically on their findings, and to develop ideas about integrating medieval literature in modern teaching practice. Each year a different text or set of texts and themes from the Anglo-Saxon period or High Middle Ages will be selected. This course can be fruitfully combined with the MasterLanguage course ‘Language variation and change from Old to Middle English.

Despite its huge influence on modern politics, arts and culture, medieval English literature is rarely taught at secondary schools today. This course explores ways in which current research into medieval English literature can be translated to a classroom context. This year, the course will focus on the Old English epic poem Beowulf (a world classic), the popular Middle English legends about King Arthur as well as Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Prospective course outline

  • Session 1. Introduction: Why teach medieval English literature? How to teach history and culture of medieval England with modern adaptations (medievalism)?
  • Project 1. Beowulf
  • Session 2. Beowulf
  • Session 3. Teaching project: Beowulf
  • Project 2. Arthurian Literature
  • Session 4. King Arthur
  • Session 5. Teaching project: King Arthur
  • Project 3. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
  • Session 6. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
  • Session 7. Teaching project: Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Educational perspective

The course is aimed at students who plan to teach medieval English literature in secondary schools and/or wish to develop educational material that can be used at university level.  

Course requirements / Language proficiency

A basic knowledge of medieval English language and literature is highly recommended. Students who have not followed one or more preparatory modules must contact the course coordinator some weeks before the course starts for an alternative, online means to grasp the basics of Old English or Middle English literature.


Lecture, seminar, and individual research

100% Three teaching projects

Study load
5 ECTS = 140 hours, of which:

  • Seminars: 7 x 3 = 21 hrs
  • Preparation and work per week 7 x 8 = 56 hrs
  • 3 Lesson plans + research assignments 3 x 21 = 63 hrs

Uva/VU students who need 6 ECTS (= 168 hours) may elect to do more homework or an extra assignment. This must be determined with the course teacher(s) in week 1.
6 ECTS (= 168 hours), of which:

  • Seminars: 7 x 3 = 21 hrs
  • Preparation and work per week 7 x 8 = 56 hrs
  • 3 Lesson plans + research assignments 3 x 30,33 = 91 hrs


Background literature and course materials

Set texts will be provided in the Digital Learning Environment.

Further information

Fridays  14h00-17h00

09/02/2024, 14h00-17h00 (Leiden)
16/02/2024, 14h00-17h00 (online)
01/03/2024, 14h00-17h00 (online)
08/03/2024, 14h00-17h00 (online)
22/03/2024, 14h00-17h00 (online)
05/04/2024, 14h00-17h00 (online)
12/04/2024, 14h00-17h00 (online)


Enrolment Form 2
The university you are currently enrolled at.
Have you achieved a university bachelor diploma or a university of applied sciences bachelor diploma plus a university premaster diploma, in the target language of the course you want to follow? If not, please contact the course coordinator to see if you meet the entry requirements. Masterlanguage courses are not open to bachelor students.