Norse Mythology

Ref: C2228420

This course follows the written accounts of Norse mythology in two books: the anonymous Poetic Edda (also known as the Elder Edda), and Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda. We will read authoritative English translations of the Old Norse, supported by scholarly articles, images, and recordings of musical settings of the myths. We will compare and contrast the different types of evidence available for understanding the Norse Myths; discuss the historical context of the writing of the Eddas; explore the practical wisdom and mythical symbolism contained in these stories. The tales include a violent creation myth; a complex cosmology grounded by Yggdrasill, the world tree; Odin’s numerous quests for knowledge; Thor’s unnerving encounters with giants; Loki’s outrageous insults and trickery; Idun’s immortal fruit; Freyja’s chariot of cats; Sigurd, slayer of the dragon Fafnir; the vengeance of the enslaved giantesses Fenja and Menja; the looming apocalypse of Ragnarök, and the subsequent rebirth.

Course aim

A world made from an ancient giant; a universe held together by a great, cosmic tree; an enormous serpent encircles the earth, biting its own tail. Discover the strange and wonderful world of Norse mythology.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers
  • This course is suitable for anyone who has an interest in the tales and myths of northern Europe. Students who have previously taken the “Icelandic Myth and Saga” course at the WEA will also find this an appropriate extension and deepening of the topic.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • recall the historical, political, and religious context of the writing down of the Norse myths
  • explain the basic structure of the Norse cosmos and the roles of the principal gods
  • identify mythological tropes in works inspired by Norse mythology
  • Develop skills in expressing your opinions based on the evidence in the texts.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

Classes will typically consist of introduction of the topic by the tutor; close reading; class discussion; small group work. Extracts from the texts will be supplied, but you may wish to buy your own copies of the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda (a list of recommended editions will be supplied).

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Norse Mythology


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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