This course has concessions available

Norse Myths – Online

The best and most thorough written accounts of the mythology of the Norse people were made by medieval Christians in Iceland. Although the pagan religious practice had died away, these scholars described and preserved in vivid detail the ancient mythological stories of the creation of the universe, the rowdy and provocative exploits of the family of gods, and a violent end in Ragnark. These myths were profound influences on Wagner, Tolkien, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, A. S. Byatt, Neil Gaiman, and a host of modern television programmes. This course investigates the source material for these enduring myths.

Who is this course for

This course is suitable for beginners who have an interest in the tales and myths of northern Europe, students who have a working knowledge of Norse mythology will profit from the close attention to the texts of the Eddas. Students who have previously taken the 'Icelandic Myth and Saga' course will find this an appropriate extension and deepening of the topic.

What does this course cover

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 Ragnark, and the subsequent rebirth.

By the end of the course you should be able to:
' understand 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

What will it be like

The course will be run online using Zoom for the live class sessions and either the Moodle page for the course or some other system for the distribution of the electronic resources for the session sitting alongside this. Although there will be some adjustments that need to be made for the online version of this course, we will aim to keep the experience as close as possible to that of a face to face course taught in the Centre.

Classes will typically consist of an introduction of the topic and relevant themes by the tutor; close reading of text extracts; tutor-guided class discussion; small group work.

What else do you need to buy or do

The course will be run on Zoom, please make sure you have installed it in advance of your first class on your computer or mobile device. You can sign up for free here:

You will need a microphone (it's fine to use whatever is built into your device) and camera, so we can see you via video. You may also want to use headphones during the session.

You can participate in class sessions through the use of a computer, laptop, tablet or other similar internet enabled device. Please note that if you only have access to a smartphone, you will be able to attend the class sessions and participate in them but you will find it more difficult to benefit from the full range of materials and activities involved in the course if this is your only means of connection.

Make sure you have a small space to work in during the session and that as far as possible that you can keep this space quite and clear of interruption so that you can concentrate on what is happening in the class.

By signing up to the course you are consenting to being on camera. The content of the lesson may occasionally be recorded by the tutor for internal education and training purposes but any such recordings will not be made available to anyone outside of the Mary Ward Centre organisation without us asking you again for further permission to do so.

Extracts from the essential texts will be supplied, but you may wish to buy your own copies of the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda (advice on editions of the texts will be given in the first session). You will be encouraged to read as widely as you wish guided by a supplied list of recommended texts and online resources.

What this course could lead to

Other Humanities courses at Mary Ward Centre or elsewhere.

mwc logo

I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student


This course has concessions available for people who meet certain criteria

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Unavailable Classes:

Why choose Mary Ward?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening and weekends to suit your timetable. You can learn face to face at one of our centres (Bloomsbury or Waterloo) or take an online course

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’