Advanced Old English (Spring 2016)

About this course

Advanced Old English is a reading course in Old English focussing on Beowulf. A necessary prerequisite is previous experience reading Old English, the language of Anglo-Saxon England (c. 450-1200 CE). At the U of L, this experience is acquired through English 3450.

Important note: This course is being offered in the form of Independent Studies. The Dean’s office has agreed to waive restrictions on Independent Studies that affect degree requirements for students taking this course. These include the maximum number of Independent Studies you can count towards your degree and restrictions on the use of Independent Studies courses to satisfy distribution requirements at fourth year for English majors. Please see me if you want to take this course but cannot because of some restriction on Independent Studies in your programme.

Times and location

TBA. We will find a common time and location based on student enrollment and availability.

Office and Office Hours

My office is room B810B. My telephone numbers, a map, and other contact information are available on my Contact page.

I am on campus most days, but my schedule varies greatly from week to week. Please email me to set up an appointment

Detailed description

We will be reading Beowulf in the original and reading and writing about the poem.

Learning goals

  • Improving students’ ability to read Old English (students who have read Beowulf are more than prepared for graduate study in Old English
  • Studying one of the great vernacular poems of the Middle Ages.


You are responsible for purchasing your own texts (they are not in the bookstore). All are available online and/or via online retailers.

  • Klaeber’s Beowulf, Ed. Fulk et al.. ISBN 9780802095671 Required


  1. to assist you in finding the specific copies we will be using, I have provided ISBN information for the books you are required to purchase. The format used in this list is not the same as that required for the works cited list for your formal essay.


There are three types of assessment in this class: Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, Graded Work, and Badges.

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (40%)

Work in this category is awarded a grade of 100% if it is satisfactory. In some cases a letter grade will also be assigned for formative purposes, although this is advisory and will not count towards your final grade. Students have the option of resubmitting or otherwise making up one piece of unsatisfactory work. Distinguished work in this category is eligible for a “Great Distinction” or “Distinction” badge. In the case of the blogs, badges are awarded on the amount of work done: students who write an average of 1.5 satisfactory blogs a week throughout the year will receive a “Distinction” badge; students who write an average of 2 blogs a week will receive a “Great Distinction” badge.

Attendance and preparation (weekly) 15%
Blogging (weekly) 15%
Prospectus (second half of course) 5%
Poster and presentation 5%

Graded work (50%)

Work in this category is awarded a letter grade or percentage, depending on the nature of the work (for converting between letter grades and percentages, see grade scale below). This grade is used in calculating your final grade in the course. Graded work cannot be redone or otherwise made up. I reserve the right to award badges for graded work of truly exceptional quality.

Final paper (3000-5000 words or equiv) (due last class) 25%
Exams (mid semester and end of term) 25%
(best = 15%; worst = 10%)

Badges (10%)

Badges are a form of distinction rather than a grade per se. Except in the case of blogs, where they are assigned at various participation thresholds, badges are intended to recognise exceptional quality work and are very difficult to get. There are two badges, corresponding to the University’s honours of “Great Distinction” and “Distinction.”

Great distinction 3.5%
Distinction 1.5%

Grade scale

In my classes, I use two grading scales: one for formative work, the other for summative.

Grade scale

  Excellent Good Satisfactory Poor Minimal pass Failing
Letter A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D F
Percent range 100-94 93-90 89-86 85-82 81-78 77-74 73-70 69-66 65-62 61-58 57-50 49-0
Conventional value 100 92 88 84 80 76 72 68 64 60 56 49-0
Grade point 4.0 3.7 3.3 3.0 2.7 2.3 2.0 1.7 1.3 1.0 0

I use this table in different ways depending on the nature of the work.

  • For tests of specific skills or knowledge (such as identification questions in literature classes, or fact-oriented tests in grammar and language classes), I usually assign a numeric score, which is easily converted to a percentage.
  • For essays, presentations, and other qualitatively evaluated work, I usually grade by letter. This is then converted to a percentage using the third row (“Conventional value”). Thus a letter grade of “A,” for example, will be converted to 92% for purposes of calculation. A letter grade of “D+” will be converted to 60%. A grade of “F” is assigned an arbitrary percentage based on my sense of your performance. Usually this is a common fraction (e.g. 40%, 33.4%, 25%, 10%).

In marking work I try to keep the University’s official description of these grades in mind (a description can be found in the University Calendar, Part IV.3.a). If you get an A it means I think your work is excellent; a B means I think your work is good; a C means I think it is satisfactory; a D that I think it is barely acceptable (minimal pass); and an F that I think it is failing to meet University-level standards.

Submitting Work

Tests, Exams, and Quizzes

Tests and Exams will be written in the University’s Testing Centre on Moodle. Quizzes may be presented in class on Moodle.

Essays and Reports

Essays and reports will normally be collected using Turnitin. Information on our account (URL, ID number, and Password) will be made available in our class space on Moodle:

Class schedule

Our classwork for the semester is to read through Beowulf in Old English. This requires us to translate an average of 250 lines per week. Because the precise rate at which we will do this at is impossible to predict, there is no point laying out a class reading schedule in advance. Each class will take up where the previous left off and students are responsible for discovering where we are in the event that they miss a class.



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