Skip to main content Skip to navigation

EN121-30 Medieval and Early Modern Literature

English and Comparative Literary Studies
Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Sarah Wood
Credit value
Module duration
18 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

EN121-30 Medieval to Renaissance English Literature

Module web page

Module aims

This module will study a number of works of medieval and renaissance English literature in the context of contemporary beliefs and historical and social developments. The module will be taught by means of language classes (first term only) to introduce students to Middle English; lectures on the historical, cultural and critical context; and seminars to discuss particular texts.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Autumn term
Week 1 Introduction
Weeks 2 Chaucer, The General Prologue
Week 3 Chaucer, The Miller’s Tale and The Reeve’s Tale
Week 4 The Merchant’s Tale
Week 5 The Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale
Week 7 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Week 8 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Week 9 Piers Plowman, Prologue and passus 5
Week 10 Medieval drama

Spring Term
Week 1 Introduction to the Renaissance and Reformation
Week 2 Thomas More, Utopia
Week 3 The poetry of Thomas Wyatt
Week 4 Sir Philip Sidney, The Defense of Poesy
Week 5 Astrophil and Stella
Week 7 Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, bk 1 cantos 1-6
Week 8 Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, bk 1 cantos 7-12
Week 9 Shakespeare’s sonnets
Week 10 Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • By the end of this module you should have: 1. Acquired skill in reading Middle English and knowledge of the structure and history of the English language;
  • 2. Acquired some knowledge of Medieval English literature (especially the work of Chaucer and his contemporaries), society and culture;
  • 3. Developed awareness of the forms and metres of English poetry;
  • 4. Obtained some knowledge of sixteenth-century English poetry and prose and its intellectual and social context;
  • 5. Improved your skills in textual analysis and essay-writing.
Indicative reading list

Andrew and Waldron (ed.) Poems of the Pearl Manuscript (Exeter)
L. D. Benson (ed.) The Riverside Chaucer (Oxford)
S. Greenblatt et al. (ed.) The Norton Anthology of English Literature. The Sixteenth Century and Early Seventeenth Century. Volume B (rev. 10th edition, Norton, 2018)
D. Aers, Community, Gender and Individual Identity: English Writing 1360-1430 (1988)
J.A. Burrow, Medieval Writers and their Work 2nd edn (Oxford, 2008)
Maurice Keen, English Society in the Later Middle Ages 1348-1500 (Penguin, 1990)
Jerry Brotton, The Renaissance: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2006)
S.J. Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare, 1980
Peter Marshall, The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2009)
J. Guy, Tudor England (Oxford, 1988)

Subject specific skills

No subject specific skills defined for this module.

Transferable skills

No transferable skills defined for this module.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 18 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Seminars 17 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Other activity 4 hours (1%)
Private study 261 hours (87%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

Reading & research

Other activity description

Language and commentary classes (weeks 2-5 term 1 only)


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A2
Weighting Study time
Portfolio 50%

Portfolio comprising a) 800-word commentary on a passage from one of the set texts and b) 1800 word essay. The mark for the portfolio is made up of the weighted average mark of the commentary (40% of the final mark) and the essay (60% of the final mark).

Essay 50%

Essay of 2000 words

Feedback on assessment

Written comments, face-to-face meeting with seminar tutor.


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of UENA-Q300 Undergraduate English Literature
  • Year 1 of UENA-QP36 Undergraduate English Literature and Creative Writing
  • Year 1 of UTHA-QW34 Undergraduate English and Theatre Studies

This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 1 of UFRA-QR3A Undergraduate English and French
  • Year 1 of UHPA-QR34 Undergraduate English and Hispanic Studies
  • Year 1 of UENA-VQ32 Undergraduate English and History
  • Year 1 of UPHA-VQ72 Undergraduate Philosophy and Literature

This module is Optional for:

  • Year 1 of UENA-VQ32 Undergraduate English and History
  • Year 1 of UPHA-VQ72 Undergraduate Philosophy and Literature

This module is Core option list A for:

  • Year 1 of ULNA-QR37 Undergraduate English and German
  • Year 1 of ULNA-QR38 Undergraduate English and Italian