Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Writing about war in high medieval Scandinavia c.1050-1264
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Blog / wiki  (1,000 words)  20%
Semester Assessment Written Project  (4,000 words)  80%
Supplementary Assessment Blog / wiki  (1,000 words)  20%
Supplementary Assessment Written project  (4,000 words)  80%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the internal conflicts which affected Denmark, Norway and Iceland in the high medieval period.

2. Demonstrate an understanding of how medieval authors in Scandinavia and Iceland constructed accounts of war in the high medieval period.

3. Develop their ability to use comparative approaches to explore medieval sources.

4. Construct coherent historical arguments regarding how accounts of war were composed in high medieval Scandinavia and Iceland.

Brief description

Across the high medieval period, Denmark, Norway and Iceland experienced prolonged periods of internal warfare as rival factions fought to win power and authority in each land. This module will introduce students to some of the ways in which historians use historical accounts of these conflicts to investigate a range of topics, from how politics operated, to the norms which governed how combatants behaved during warfare. This module will focus in particular on how comparative approaches can be used to expand our understanding of these narrative sources. Students will consider the effect that differences in the language, form and composition of textual sources have on how historians interpret and use them as evidence for behaviour in the past.


1.Introduction: War and the writing of history in Scandinavia and Iceland

2.The King’s sagas I: Morkinskinna, Fagrskinna and Heimskringla

3.The King’s sagas II: Sverris saga

4.The King’s sagas III: Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar

5.Íslendinga saga and Sturla Þórðarson

6.Comparing accounts of war in Norway and Iceland

7.Writing about the past in Latin: the Gesta Danorum

8.Language, form and ‘objective truth’

9.Depicting behaviour in accounts of the past

10.Conclusion: Comparing accounts of war across linguistic and cultural boundaries

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Oral and written communication skills will be developed through seminars and feedback on written work.
Improving own Learning and Performance Written work will be returned in tutorials where advice will be given regarding the improvement of research and techniques and essay writing skills.
Information Technology Through the retrieval of primary and secondary works from online resources and AberLearn Blackboard and through the writing, formatting and printing of essays.
Personal Development and Career planning This module will develop oral and written skills. It will also prepare students for careers which involve the research, critical analysis and presentation of material relevant to a particular problem or set of problems
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area, and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by investigating narrative sources from the period under study.
Subject Specific Skills This module will develop students’ abilities to interpret and analyse primary source material. It will provide them with a range of approaches which they can utilise when conducting independent research.
Team work Through seminar activities, including seminar leading with another student.


This module is at CQFW Level 5