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Philology 2: Introduction to Old English Language and Literature


Admission requirements



This course focuses on the first centuries of the English language and culture, the period of Old English and Anglo-Saxon England (c.450–c.1100), of which a surprisingly rich literature has come down to us. You will be given a thorough introduction to the Old English language (phonology, morphology, syntax; Old English as ancestor of Modern English), and you will develop skills in translating short texts in both prose and poetry. In addition, we shall study a variegated selection from Anglo-Saxon literature, partly in Old English and partly in translation, such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Ælfric, Riddles, and Beowulf. Placing these texts in their cultural historical context also allows us to deal with such topics as the Vikings, the Sutton Hoo ship burial, manuscripts and daily life.

Course objectives

An insight into and understanding of Old English grammar; skills in translation of Old English text; insight into Anglo-Saxon literature and culture.


The timetable will be available by June 1st at:

Mode of instruction

Two-hour seminar per week.

Assessment method

Written exam with unseen translation and grammar 30%; written test on literature and culture 40%; furthermore, participation in tutorial and assignments 30%.


This course is supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

  • Peter S. Baker. Introduction to Old English. 2nd edn. Malden MA [etc.]: Blackwell, 2007.

  • Elaine Treharne. Old and Middle English c.890–c.1400: An Anthology. 3rd edn. Malden MA [etc.]: Blackwell, 2009.


Students should register through uSis. Exchange students cannot register through uSis, but must see the director of studies and register with her. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Departmental Office English Language and Culture, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; mail:
Studentcounsellor Bachelor: Ms. S.H.J. Bollen, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103B.
Coordinator of Studies Master: Ms. K. van der Zeeuw-Filemon, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.