Old Norse Special Course

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

NOFI210 consists of a specialized topic from Old Norse philology. This topic could be about language or literature, or a combination of these two. The topics will change from semester to semester, and the required prerequisites may vary. The lecturer will provide the necessary information about this.

The aim of this course is to offer the students a possibility to specialize in an Old Norse topic throughout a whole semester. In this sense, the course is a continuation from one or several of the NOFI-100 courses. Students that have completed NOSP103, or other courses in Nordic science, may also be qualified to attend NOFI210.

The course is aimed at both bachelor's and master's students, and several course codes may be included. These have in common that the students must write a home assignment: in NOFI 250 a bachelor thesis, in NOFI210 and NOFI300 a semester assignment, and in NOFI 302 a home exam. In NOFI 303 there is a presentation (20-25 minutes) of a professional topic on the course. The topic is agreed with the subject teacher, who also approves the presentation.

Toipc 2024: Germanic heroic legends

About the topic for the spring semester 2024:

"This course focuses on the network of Germanic heroic legends about ancient heroes in the north of medieval Europe. Iceland, Norway, Sweden, England and Germany¿s distinct vernacular heroic texts and artwork will be analysed and compared in order to come to an understanding of the relation and relationship of these legends and their respective places in their native and wider Germanic traditions.

We will gain a rich and varied understanding of the legends and heroes we look at: V¿lundr, Sigmundr, Sigurðr, Beowulf, and Hrólfr Kraki. In doing so, the course challenges students to analyse the primary sources of the V¿lsung legend and the sources detailing the legends of Lejre, through close reading, discussion and lectures. We will also look at V¿lundr, also known as Weland the Smith, a rather curious elf from heroic legend.

Throughout the length of the course, students will be exposed to a variety of medieval primary texts. Although the focus of the course will primarily be on Old Norse material, we will also study sources in Old English, Latin and Middle High German (in translation). In addition to textual material in both poetry and prose, we will analyse relevant medieval artwork, and present the results of our work on material objects as a podcast episode."

Learning Outcomes


After successfully completing this course, students will have:

- Attained a broad introduction to a topic from Old Norse philology, where the use and understanding of primary and secondary sources central to the topic are emphasized.

- A clear understanding of the specific topic of the course.

- A clear understanding of how to disseminate an Old Norse topic both in writing and orally.


- The ability to discuss and analyse a subject matter within the field of Old Norse.

- The ability to consciously choose and make use of a primary text.

- The ability to search for and gather necessary secondary literature.

- The ability to cite sources in a clear and correct manner, by using a standard citation style and bibliography.

- The ability to organize an academic inquiry in a well-written paper.

General Competence

- The ability to express themselves clearly, with correct terminology and in a well-structured manner, about an academic subject, both in writing and orally.

- The ability to read literature related to the discipline in English and in the Scandinavian languages, and will also have practiced reading relevant texts in other languages.

- The ability to discuss matters of medieval philology and state their own point of view.

- The ability to continue to seek further competence and specialization independently.

Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Spring and Fall

Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
NOFI210 overlaps completely with the previously taught course NOFI211. If both courses are to earn credit in a B.A. degree, one of them must be taken as a B.A. thesis. Furthermore, it is the case that NOFI210, NOFI250 and the previously taught course NOFI211 concern topics that change from semester to semester. In the event that the topic for two courses is partly the same, the student who wishes to take both must agree a special syllabus with the lecturer, so that there is an adequate divide between the two courses that will both give credit for the B.A. degree.
Teaching and learning methods

Seminars and supervision fron the lecturer on the term paper

Teaching on the 200-level will to a large degree be organised as a seminar with active participation by the students. It is therefore expected that they carry out the assignments (written and/or oral) that will be set as a part of the teaching.

The teaching in NOFI210 will normally coincide with that of NOFI250 and the Old Norse philology courses at 300-level. In such cases, consideration will be taken of students¿ individual needs on the different courses.

If less than five students are registered to a course, the department might reduce the teaching, please see the department¿s guidelines regarding this on ¿Mitt UiB¿. Regarding a course where this is a possibility, the students will get information about this at the beginning of the semester, and before the deadline regarding semester registration 1st February/1st September.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

1) Obligatory attendance at at least 75% of the scheduled lectures.

2) The students must give a short presentation (10-15 minutes) on a topic related to the course. The topic will be agreed with the lecturer, who will also approve the presentation.

3) If the student, in consultation with the lecturer, sets up an alternative syllabus to the standard one, the student must hand in and have the syllabus list approved within the advertised deadline.

4) For students who choose the term paper:

a) Supervision from the lecturer is obligatory. The student is responsible for seeking supervision from lecturer and for attending the scheduled meetings.

b) The topic of the paper must be approved at least five weeks prior to the final deadline.

c) A first version of the paper must be submitted three weeks prior to the final deadline.

The compulsory requirements are valid for the given semester.

Forms of Assessment

Supervised term paper and an adjusting oral examination.

The supervised term paper consists of a topic chosen in consultation with the lecturer. The expected length of the term paper will be 13-17 pages (31 200-40 800 characters incl. spaces), not counting the list of works cited and appendices. The term paper shall be submitted according to the guidelines given on Mitt UiB.

It is permitted to write in Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, English or German.

The adjusting oral examination will be an examination of the topic of the term paper and of the syllabus of the course. The oral examination can adjust the final grade of the term paper by one grade, either up or down.

It is permitted to speak Norwegian, Danish, Swedish or English during the oral exam. It will be taken into consideration that international students might need extra time in order to formulate their answers fully. No examination support material is permitted at the oral examination.

If the student fails the term paper, he or she will not be permitted to take the oral examination.

It is not permitted to use the term paper again in a later semester.

Grading Scale
Grade scale A-F.
Reading List


The syllabus of NOFI210 will consist of 1000 pages of normal difficulty (`weighted pages¿). Texts in the original, in translation, and different types of secondary literature are weighted differently according to their difficulty.

For each course there will be a suggested syllabus. There is the opportunity to change parts of the literature on the syllabus in consultation with the lecturer. In this case, the candidate must contact the course lecturer as soon as possible, and hand in and have the syllabus list approved within the advertised deadline.

Course Evaluation
Evaluation will be conducted in accordance with the University of Bergen's quality assurance system.