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Last modified: 25 Mar 2016 11:36

Course Overview

An introduction to late medieval-literature, challenging modern assumptions about the medieval and exploring the diverse range of medieval literary culture, from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to the autobiographical narrative of Margery Kempe and surprising profanity of medieval lyric.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Elizabeth Elliott

Qualification Prerequisites


What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • English (EL) (Studied)
  • Programme Level 3

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course offers an introduction to late-medieval literature, challenging modern assumptions about the nature of the 'medieval' and opening up the dynamic cultural scene that gave rise to some of the most entertaining and thought-provoking works in the literary tradition. Texts and authors studied range from the popular to the courtly and from the sacred to the (very) profane. Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales features prominently on the course, with narrative poetry also represented by Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Meanwhile, the great civic Mystery play cycles represent the beginnings of the vigorous vernacular dramatic tradition inherited by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Students will become familiar with Medieval language and be introduced to themes and genres ranging from courtly love and chivalric romance, to mysticism and autobiography, from comic tales (fabliaux) to drama and lyric verse. The course will also examine Chaucer's cultural influence, and include work by Scottish writers Henryson and Dunbar.

Further Information & Notes

Reading List


Additional texts to be supplied as handouts.


Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry D. Benson, 3rd edn. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988):

We’ll be focusing on General Prologue, The Knight’s Tale, The Miller’s Tale, The Reeve’s Tale, The Merchant’s Tale, The Franklin’s Tale, The Nun’s Priest’s Tale, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale

 Kempe, Margery. The Book of Margery Kempe, trans. B. A. Windeatt (Houndmills: Penguin, 2000).

The Lais of Marie de France, trans. Glyn S. Burgess and Keith Busby, 2nd edn (London: Penguin, 1999). (Bisclavret)

Shakespeare, William, and John Fletcher. Two Noble Kinsmen, ed. Eugene M. Waith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, trans. and ed. Bernard O'Donoghue (London: Penguin, 2006) 

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: 2500-3000 word essay (40%), 2000-2500 word essay ( 40%), presentation (10%) seminar work (10%).
Resit: Essay Submission (100%).

Formative Assessment

Throughout the course students will be encouraged to ask for formative assessment from the tutor on their achievements. Individual and group discussions with the tutor will also give students a chance to develop their undertanding of what is asked of them and how they can produce this.


Detailed written feedback on the essays. Detailed oral feedback on the presentations.

Course Learning Outcomes


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