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10 cp from 100-level units in History or Politics and International Relations

Unit rationale, description and aim

The representation of their own past to those now living has been a culturally important task for most societies, and many societies have drawn on the resources of history, myth and legend to accomplish that task. Historians must often analyse the nature and influence of the narratives that particular societies have used to relate the story of their past, and this unit will equip students with the conceptual and methodological tools for that study. Analysis of primary sources in a variety of narrative genres will form the core of the unit, and will be supported by a range of interdisciplinary secondary sources. The unit will explore the rolenarratives play in the construction of group identity, the role of the 'hero' in history, myth and legend, the development of individual mythic or legendary traditions, and modern understandings and reworkings of historical or legendary material from the past.

The aim of this unit is to develop a student's capacity to provide an analysis of some of the key historical, mythic and legendary narratives that a given society uses to shape and express understandings of its past, and to provide historical and methodological context for that analysis.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Discuss theoretical and factual knowledge of the ways in which the past has been represented in historical, mythic and legendary texts and an awareness of the debates surrounding these representations (GA5, GA6) 

LO2 - Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form, in a style appropriate to a specified audience (GA9) 

LO3 - Locate, use and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary materials relevant to history, myth and legend to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argument (GA3, GA8, GA10)  

LO4 - Apply critical reading skills to your understanding of historic, mythic and legendary texts and the methods that historians have used to research and interpret them (GA4, GA5) 

LO5 - Interpret and reflect on key debates relating to historical, mythic and legendary texts over time (GA3-6). 

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:  

  • Conceptualising the intersections between history, myth and legend in specific historical contexts 
  • A selection of the following themes: 
  • The role of myth and legend in shaping the historical identity of a people 
  • The place of the legendary and the supernatural in the writing of history 
  • Case studies charting the development of individual mythic or legendary traditions in their historical contexts. Examples are: Troy; Alexander the Great; the Amazons; the founding of Rome; Cleopatra; the foundation myths of the Anglo-Saxons, Charlemagne; the Arthurian tradition; St Patrick; Richard the Lionheart; Robin Hood; Francis; Richard II; Joan of Arc. 
  • The “hero” in history, myth and legend, for example, royal heroes, military heroes, heroes of national resistance or saintly heroes. 
  • Modern understandings and reworkings of historical or legendary material from past societies 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching in this unit will take place through face-to-face classes, through the online LEO environment, and through independent study. 

1. Students will develop an understanding of the content of the unit by means of interactive lectures and tutorials, in which key themes of the unit will be presented and analysed. Lectures will serve in part to model for students a genre-sensitive and historicist approach to the narrative texts of the past, while in tutorials students will focus on a sequence of historical, mythic or legendary texts. The unit’s LEO site will particularly enhance student learning by providing access to some of the rich resources on myth and legend (such as animations) found on the Internet. 

2. Students will develop skills essential to analysing and interpreting the narrative texts of the past in their lectures and tutorials. Tutorials in particular will focus on structured, collaborative analysis of key historical, mythic or legendary texts, and through this weekly analysis and discussion students will practice the critical reading skills that will form the basis for the unit’s major research task. 

This 10 credit-point unit has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as lectures, tutorials, reading, reflection, discussion, film screenings, skills workshops, private study and assignments etc.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks in this unit have been sequenced to promote cumulative learning. The first assessment task, “Textual Analysis and Contextualisation,” is designed to develop and assess Learning Outcomes 1 and 2, by requiring that students both read a text closely to develop an understanding of how it presents the past, and also set that narrative in its historical context.   

The second assessment task builds on the techniques and knowledge gained in the first assessment task and then develops and assesses Learning Outcomes 1-4, by requiring that students complete an independent research task based on the analysis and interpretation of a substantial historical, mythic or legendary narrative text or tradition. Students would typically choose their own texts or narrative traditions to analyse, and their research would demonstrate engagement with relevant contemporary scholarship.   

The final summative task assesses students’ ability to synthesise the knowledge, concepts and skills developed in this unit to provide historically sensitive analyses of the ways in which historical, mythic and legendary narratives have served to shape and express understandings of the past. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Textual Analysis and Contextualisation: The purpose of this task is to develop students’ capacity to analyse historical, mythic or legendary texts (written or otherwise) and to use secondary sources to provide historical or literary context for the texts.


LO1, LO2 

GA5, GA6, GA9

Research task: The purpose of this task is develop students’ ability to formulate and research an independent written research task, based on the analysis of a substantial historical, mythic or legendary narrative text or tradition


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Summative task: The purpose of this task is to develop students’ ability to synthesise and reflect on the key themes of the unit 

The lecturer may designate this task to be in the form of short answer responses, test/s, take-home exam, exam, reflective essay/poster or simulation exercise. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Beowulf: A Dual-Language Edition. Translated by Howell D. Chickering. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1977.  

Elliott, Andrew. Remaking the Middle Ages: The Methods of Cinema and History in Portraying the Medieval World. Jefferson: McFarland, 2011. 

Fantasy and Science Fiction Medievalisms: From Isaac Asimov to A Game of Thrones. Edited by Helen Young. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2015.  

Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain. Edited and translated by Michael Faletra. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Books, 2008. 

Homer. The Iliad. Translated by Robert Fagles. London: Penguin Classics, 1998. 

Lupack, Alan and Barbara Tepa Lupack. “The Robin Hood Project: A Robbins Library Digital Project.” University of Rochester. 

Richard Coeur de Lion in History and Myth. Edited by Janet Nelson. London: King's College London,1992. 

Translating Myth. Edited by B. Pestell, P. Palazzolo, and L. Burnett. London and New York: Routledge, 2016. 

Virgil. The Aeneid. Translated by Robert Fagles. London: Penguin Classics, 2006. 

Writing Medieval History. Edited by Nancy Partner. London: Bloomsbury, 2005. 

*Other texts to support diverse eras or cultures as required.  

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