ATS2271 - Beowulf: An interdisciplinary approach - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Centre for Theatre and Performance


Dr Felix Nobis

Unit guides



  • First semester 2017 (Day)


In this unit, the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf serves as a textual focus that enables students to participate in the learning practices and activities of a range of academic disciplines. Over three modules, the poem is approached in turn as a historical document, a literary work, and a performance text. To facilitate these approaches, students will engage with a teaching team drawn from different Schools in the Faculty of Arts.

The unit approaches Beowulf in these specific ways:

  1. The historical module outlines the background of the Anglo-Saxon culture that produced the poem, and also discusses how the poem itself has functioned as a vital source of information on the period. The module concludes with discussion on the Old English language in which the poem is written, its poetic form, and the issues surrounding its translation.
  2. The literary module considers the manuscript histories of Beowulf, focusing on the remarkable journey the poem has followed to survive into the modern age. Its place in the canon of English literature, its influence and its impact in a variety of media, are also considered as part of this module.
  3. The performance module encourages students to consider Beowulf through its status as a performance piece. To conclude the unit, students will be given the opportunity to craft a performative response to sections of the poem.

    Through these approaches, students not only engage with the poem from different perspective, but encounter and explore diverse practices in a range of academic disciplines.


Upon successful completion of the unit students will be able to:

  1. recognise key elements of the Old English language, including its lexical features, grammar, pronunciation, and issues with translation;
  2. undertake critical readings of Beowulf in modern English translations;
  3. research the textual and critical histories of literary works written in English;
  4. report on the ways that literary works in English can be revived and reinvented through electronic media and emergent technologies;
  5. devise a critically-informed performance based on a literary works through work shopping and rehearsal methods;
  6. undertake collaborative projects with scholars from other disciplines.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Two gateway units in History, Linguistics, Literary studies or Theatre