Module code: ELIM046

Module Overview

This module explores the centrality of texts written by and for medieval women to both the history of medieval literature and to women’s literary history. You will be introduced to a range of works written for and about women in England between the 11th and 15th centuries and will examine in detail the major female authors writing from the 12th to the 15th centuries, such as the courtly writer Marie de France, the English woman mystic Julian of Norwich, and the visionary Margery Kempe. Texts will be read either in Middle English or in modernized versions, or (in the case of texts written in the French of the English, in translation). The module will explore a range of literary forms and genres, including saints’ lives, romance and lais, mystical and visionary writing and women’s letters. You will be asked to critically analyse and/or engage creatively with the texts, paying attention to your linguistic, literary, religious and socio-historical contexts and focusing on issues such as antifeminism, social hierarchies, literacy, multingualism and multi-culturalism, and gender and sexuality.

The module provides you with a working knowledge of tools on used by researchers and writers examining and engaging with historically remote literatures and cultures, connecting with modules of contemporary literary studies, research and writing skills, and medieval and early modern literature. These tools include not only the ability to analyse and critically evaluate texts and ideas, but also to understand them within their wider historical, geographical and social contexts, as well as practical tools of reading and translating Middle English texts.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

WATT Diane (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 68

Seminar Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 54

Captured Content: 6

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Introduction: Medieval Women’s Writing then and now

Exemplary Lives

Courtly Literature

Anchoritic Literature

Radical Theology

Assessment Preparation and Zine workshop

Visionary Women

Women’s Letters


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Critical Essay (4000 words) OR Creative Portfolio (3000 words) + Critical Commentary (1000 words) 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy comprises two parts:

  1. The formative assessment for this module is a 250 word essay or critical commentary plan

  2. The summative assessment for this module consists of:

* a critical essay (4000 words) OR a creative portfolio (3000 words) + critical commentary (1000 words)

Through this strategy, this module empowers you to build self-evaluation into assessment process and creates space for you to reflect on own performance whilst reviewing feedback.

The 250-word Commentary or Essay Plan exercise is designed to develop your analytical and planning skills. The formative nature of this assignment, for which the tutor will supply written feedback, enables key skills to be developed in a supportive context, which can be applied to the summative assessment in this and other modules.

The summative Essay or Creative Portfolio and Commentary is designed to enable you to demonstrate your subject knowledge and the different forms of critical theory used in English literature. You will also demonstrate your cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking and in using theory in the close reading of literary texts. The summative exercise will also enable you to demonstrate your practical/professional skills in expressing creative ideas and critical analysis in written communication and to demonstrate your transferable skills in working independently.

Module aims

  • The module aims to: develop your understanding of medieval women¿s writing in the context of its cultural, linguistic, historical, global and religious contexts
  • expand your knowledge of a range of literary forms and genres
  • enable you to think critically about differences and similarities between the distant past the present day and to apply theoretical frameworks to historical material
  • enable you to identify and interrogate at an advanced level the ways in which medieval women¿s writing challenges both conventional literary history (the established ¿canon¿ ) and women¿s literary history
  • enable you to hone further your critical, analytical and independent research skills through the examination of source and critical texts focused on the production of medieval womens writing
  • encourage you to develop further your own writerly styles and abilities in the light of or by engaging with medieval womens writing, either critically or creatively

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 By the end of the module students will be able to: describe and analyse the global, cultural, historical, social and religious contexts of medieval women¿s writing, and connect these changes to relevant textual features K
002 Demonstrate advanced critical thinking and detailed engagement with scholarship on medieval women's writing C
003 Analyse key issues challenged by medieval women's writing and apply theoretical approaches to this material KC
004 Communicate orally in presentations, creatively in the Zine workshop, and in written form in the formative and summative assessments KCT
005 Work individually and as part of the group in researching and presenting your work PT
006 Develop a creative project connected to one of the strands of medieval women's writing explored in this module and facilitate productive reflection on the creative process process [Creative Writing students] KCP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching methods include a combination of seminars incorporating student presentations and a Zine workshop, captured content, guided learning and independent learning. Captured content is made available prior to workshops. You are encouraged to be active participants in seminars and the Zine workshop, enabling you to develop as informed, confident and engaged independent learners. Zines are traditionally associated with marginal communities and you are encouraged to reflect this in the creative work. The Zine workshop also provides an opportunity for self-directed and peer-supported learning. You are also expected to extend your reading beyond the lectures and to make use of additional material provided to support each topic.

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

* Enable you to integrate and further develop the skills and critical thinking you have learnt in previous modules, for example, relating to historical periods and cultures, gender and sexualities, forms and genres, global contexts and theoretical approaches and research skills.
* Enable you to engage with different learning backgrounds and maximise your learning by drawing on your own experiences and contributions to group discussions.
* Enable you to develop skills in oral and written communication and in working individually and as part of a group.
* Enable you to develop skills in planning and implementing timetables for work and in presenting ideas coherently under time constraints.

This module is designed to allow you to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in Global and Cultural Capabilities and Resourcefulness and Resilience and Employability.

This module focuses specifically on women’s writing in the distant past. You will develop an understanding the inequalities of education and the restrictions on freedom experienced by women.  Factors affecting women’s access to literacy and literary culture in the past are considered, enabling an awareness of the diversity of lived experience of women in history. Invited speakers contribute to a diverse global perspective. You are encouraged to share experiences and knowledge from your own culture and background, and to respect and value differences in experience.

The module will expose you to texts that reflect the varied and diverse experiences of women in history. In so doing it will encourage reflection on yourself and your own community and society. Studying medieval women’s writing will enable you to see parallels as well as differences between the past and the present day, and to understand the origins of certain religion and scientific views and ideas about gender. It will provide you with a greater understanding of your place in the world. 

The module includes student seminar presentations and offers the opportunity for for group work and for both critical and creative approaches to learning and assessment through the Zine workshop and the creative assessment option. This will provide you with the opportunity to develop and hone your skills in presentation, collaborative working, and writing to enhance your employability.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ELIM046

Other information

The University is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow you to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in Global and Cultural Capabilities, Resourcefulness and Resilience and Employability as illustrated in the Learning and Teaching and Assessment sections above.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Creative Writing MA 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
English Literature MA 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.