HIST 383 (The Vikings) is a three-credit, senior-level humanities course that surveys the political, military, economic, social, cultural, and religious history of one of early medieval Europe’s most famous peoples. To engage students in the study of the Vikings, the course presents primary source readings from the period as well as current scholarly interpretations by historians and archaeologists. Through researching a specific historical topic in detail, students will exercise research, critical thinking, and writing skills. Students should note that there are no prerequisites for this course and there is a Challenge for Credit option if that is something of interest to you.
HIST 383 is made up of twelve units, two quizzes weighing two percent (one based on library research skills and the other based on the Chicago documentation); three assignments with one weighing five percent (a research plan and preliminary bibliography), a review of a scholarly article or essay worth twenty percent, and a research paper worth 30 percent; a quiz weighing one percent (based on using evidence); and the final examination that’s worth forty percent. You should note that each quiz, assignment, and the final exam should be taken in the order shown on the online syllabus as they build on each other. The twelve units cover several interesting topics, which include ships, swords, colonies of the north Atlantic, religion, culture, Viking homelands, Vikings in different parts of the world, and the end of the Viking age. The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation center. To receive credit for HIST 383, students must achieve a minimum of fifty percent on the final examination and a minimum composite course grade of fifty percent.
Melanie Cook has worked with Athabasca University as an instructor since January of 2005 and she has been an alternate tutor for HIST 383 occasionally over the past year. She states, “My academic background includes a B.A. degree in Psychology and then a specialized B.A. Honors degree in History from the University of Alberta. I went on to complete my M.A. at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. In my history degrees I studied and researched medieval, early modern, and English history but specifically focused on women’s and gender history within these timeframes and areas. Among the courses I took, I studied Anglo-Saxon history as well as medieval history and this gives me a basis for teaching in the Viking History course. At Queen’s University, as part of our graduate training, I was a teaching assistant in Medieval history, Holocaust history, and Women’s Studies.”
She continues, “With AU, I provide instructional support for students in Roman History (Clas-Hist-Humn312), the History of Early Christianity (Hist-Hum-Rels313), History of WWII (Hist367), History of Science (Hist404), and occasionally provide alternative coverage in Viking History (Hist383). I am also a Tutor in Introduction to Women’s Studies (WGST 266), and Violence Against Women (WGST422).”
Melanie provides an in-depth description into HIST 383, stating “This third-year course is a fantastic, dynamic, look at Viking history within the early medieval period (750-1100 C.E.) in Western History. Students are introduced to Scandinavian culture and traditions, including their tradition of going on ‘Viking’ voyages—travel and exploration by boat, as distinct from other medieval European cultures. By the end of the course students will come away with a more comprehensive understanding that Viking culture was distinct not only for their boat culture, the legacy of their creation stories and pantheon of supernatural gods that symbolized aspects of the natural world, but also for their farming and colonial settlements, their breadth of travel and establishment of trade routes, the structure of their family and society, and their storytelling and literacy illustrated in their poetic sagas. In my experience, while Viking mythologies fascinate us, students find that they have a new appreciation for the boldness, the aspirations, but also the daily realities of tribal, communal, and civic Scandinavian culture in the early medieval period and how lasting some of the legacies of that culture in our current language, our worldviews, our values and traditions continue to be.”
When asked to provide more in-depth information regarding the quizzes, assignments, and the final exam, she states “There are 3 written assignments, quizzes, and a written exam. The first assignment is a short Research Plan designed to help students choose a research topic and work out its structure and focus. Assignment 2 is an Article Review where students choose to provide an in-depth review of one of the articles they will use in their research paper. This assignment helps students engage with researching sources and showing their understanding of the research material. The first two assignments are short and help students build up to their research paper. Assignment 3 is the long research paper and students are expected to show development of content and analysis that incorporates at least one primary source, such as a saga, along with supporting secondary sources to help them present critical explanation and analysis about the historical context of their chosen topic. The exam tests students’ cumulative course content knowledge so the assignments and the Study Questions and Unit and Course Objectives are designed to help students build a good set of study notes and practice questions for writing the exam. Last, the quizzes are straightforward and designed to help introduce students to academic essay writing and research skills, so that they are more comfortable with the coursework and course content.”
Melanie believes that “students in these individually paced courses each have their own learning styles and their own schedules, so one thing all students need to do is determine what type of study schedule works best for them on a daily and weekly basis. For example, scheduling in a block of time (student’s choice) each day for the course can then allow students to set aside time for reading, for study questions, for quizzes, for research and writing within each day’s block of time for the course. Steadily working at the course in this way and breaking down coursework into manageable tasks will help manage student stress and provide a reliable structure for students to work with and adapt as needed.”
Each university course has content that some students will find more difficult than others and HIST 383 is no exception. Melanie explains that “Students sometimes struggle with reading historical evidence, like the sagas, because – even though students are reading modern English translations – the language and the ideas are still of another time and culture so it is not always easy to read or understand the primary evidence. However, most translations strive to make this more accessible and the course authors have designed the content to be relatable and easier for students to understand this historical culture. Students can always reach out to their Tutors as well for assistance with any questions and help with readings and assignments.”
Whether HIST 383 is a program or degree requirement of yours, or the topics discussed above are of interest to you, this course will have you learning a lot of interesting information surrounding the Vikings!