nl en

The World According to Beowulf


Admission requirements

Good working knowledge of Old English


The Old English epic Beowulf is the oldest and longest poem of its kind in the context of the Germanic tradition. The poem not only gives us an exciting story concerning the hero Beowulf’s fights against a cannibalistic monster, Grendel, and an unnamed fire-spitting dragon, but it also tells us extensively of the ways of life and expectations as they prevailed in the aristocratic warrior circles of Anglo-Saxon England shortly after the conversion. In this course we shall read and translate a number of episodes from Beowulf and place these episodes within their cultural-historical context. Attention will also be given to some smaller heroic poems so as to gain a better perspective on Beowulf itself.

Course objectives

Maintain and increase the ability of reading Old English poetry; interpreting textual and cultural conventions; independent study and application of secondary material; reporting on all these aspects in oral and written form. By the end of the course the student will be ready to write his or her MA-thesis on a topic in the field of Anglo-Saxon studies.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website

Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • Total course load for the course: 280 hours.

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 28 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory secondary literature: 76 hours

  • Time for class presentation: 8 hours

  • Time for weekly reading(s) from Beowulf: 98

  • Final paper 70 hours

Assessment method

  • final essay (70%)

  • class presentation; weekly written questions (30%)

In the case of a fail, you are entitled to rewrite your your final paper.


Blackboard is used on a weekly basis

Reading list

  • Peter S. Baker, ed., Beowulf: Basic Readings (New York: Garland, 1995)

  • Bruce Mitchell and Fred C. Robinson, eds., Beowulf: an Edition with Relevant Shorter Texts (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998)

  • Peter S. Baker, Hounour, Exchange and Violence in ‘Beowulf’ (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2013)

  • Blackboard


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 527 2251 or mail:

When registering students of the MA Literary studies take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies: Ms S.J. de Kok, MA.

Contact details

Literary Studies student administration Van Wijkplaats 3, room 002. Tel. 071 527 2251 of mail

Coordinator of studies: Ms S.J. de Kok, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 3, room 1.01b.