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Unit information: Introduction to Medieval Latin in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Introduction to Medieval Latin
Unit code AFACM0013
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Sutcliffe
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Humanities
Faculty Faculty of Arts


In this unit, we will cover the basic skills required to read, comprehend, analyse and translate medieval primary sources written in Latin. This will include fundamental training in grammar, syntax, semantics and vocabulary, meaning that the unit is aimed, on the one hand, at students with little or no previous knowledge of Latin; on the other, it also offers a valuable opportunity for students with a grounding in Classical Latin to extend their knowledge and linguistic abilities into the realm of Medieval Latin. At the end of the unit, all students will be competent and confident in studying Latin texts independently with the aid of standard dictionaries and word lists. Whilst the basic rules of grammar and syntax taught will mirror those of Classical Latin, we will pay particular attention to exploring the important ways in which the Latin language developed and changed between Antiquity and the Middle Ages/the Early Modern Period, thereby cultivating an awareness of how and why (Post-)Medieval Latin differs from its classical counterpart. As the ‘universal language’ (or lingua Franca) of medieval Europe, and the primary language of the Latin Church, Medieval Latin was the main medium of expressing, communicating and codifying medieval thought, including theology, law and, along with various medieval vernacular languages, literature. Being able to read it in its original form will provide students with unique and important insights into the vibrant culture and society of the Latin Middle Ages.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able to

  1. apply some of the fundamental rules of Latin grammar and syntax;
  2. demonstrate competence in reading passages of both Classical and Medieval Latin;
  3. translate Latin texts into English using the standard dictionaries and word lists;
  4. demonstrate their command of a basic Latin vocabulary (min. 250 words);
  5. understand the use of Medieval Latin as a language of literature, culture and communication in different areas of medieval society.

Teaching details

One 2-hour seminar plus one 1-hour translation class per week

Assessment Details

Summative assessment:

In-class test (1-hour) (30%)

Unseen 2-hour exam (70%)

Linked to ILOs 1-4

Formative assessment:

In-class presentation

Linked to ILO 5

Reading and References

J. Collins, A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin (Washington, D.C., 1988) [set text].

Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide, ed. F. A. C. Mantello and A. G. Rigg (Washington, DC, 1996).

K. C. Sidwell, Reading Medieval Latin (Cambridge, 1995).

Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, ed. R. E. Latham, D. R. Howlett and R. K. Ashdowne (Oxford, 1975-2013), online subscription.

Mediae Latinitatis Lexicon Minus, 2nd ed., J. F. Niermeyer and C. van de Kieft, revised by J. W. J. Burgers (Leiden, 2002), online subscription.