Faculty of Arts


Tolkien and his Worlds

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for ENGLISH 306.


JRR Tolkien is widely regarded as the father of modern fantasy literature. This course asks why, in offering students the opportunity to examine his major, seminal fantasy fictions, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, alongside the theories he himself developed of fantasy world-building. At the same time, we discuss Tolkien’s enduring popularity and "read" some of the recent film adaptations of his texts by Peter Jackson.

The overall aim of this course is to give students an opportunity to analyse some of Tolkien’s most notable works of fantasy within an academic framework in light of his own ideas regarding fantasy world building, but also a variety of other accounts of how fantasy works as a genre. To what extent does Tolkien exemplify these accounts? Where and when are his works at odds with them? Does it matter? 

In this regard, we also attend to Tolkien’s scholarly and critical writing on Celtic and Germanic myth and legend, but especially his work on early English epic and romance. In particular we compare his own fantasies with his translation of the magnificent, early English epic poem Beowulf, recently published, but composed in the same period in which Tolkien was writing of heroic hobbits, fantastic elves and dragons.

Course outcomes

This course aims to improve the following skills you will have learnt in other courses in English:

  •      Ability to think critically
  •      Ability to listen and form sound intellectual judgements
  •      Acquire sound reading skills
  •      Improve your skill in writing a coherent and lucid essay
  •      Gain a firm acquaintance with the Fantasy Genre and Tolkien's texts in particular

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Summer School


Coordinator(s) Dr Claudia Marquis


The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, Tree and Leaf, Beowulf.  Beowulf text is provided under "Modules".


Coursework + exam


ENGLISH 306: 15.0 points


60 points passed



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