Middle Earth Studies

Course Length: Full academic year (30 weeks)
This Year's ScheduleClick here to view

Aims of the Course

In this course, we will journey together on an epic exploration of Middle Earth and its creator, J.R.R. Tolkien. We’ll learn about how Tolkien invented the most famous fantasy world in English literature; discover the life experiences, languages, mythologies, stories and places which inspired his writing, and trace the evolution of the ‘Legendarium’.

We’ll be learning about the origins of the peoples and creatures who inhabit Middle Earth, how Medieval and Ancient history forms the setting for Tolkien’s writings, and finding out how Tolkien created his languages, poems and histories. We’ll look at Tolkien’s maps and discover how he created the geography of Middle Earth and journey from medieval Scandinavia, Iceland and Anglo-Saxon England to the battlefields of the Somme. Along the way, students will have the opportunity to experiment with Anglo-Saxon Runes, taste some Middle Earth recipes, create a wide range of art and craft work and write their own Tolkien inspired fiction and poetry.

We’ll be reading and discussing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings together as well as a wide range of the stories and literature that contributed to the making of Middle Earth, such as Beowulf, and The Prose Edda. We’ll also be watching some fascinating documentaries and listening to podcasts from Tolkien experts in addition to having our own discussions on many aspects of Tolkien’s world. 

Previous reading of The Hobbit and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ would be very helpful before beginning on this course. Please note that watching the Peter Jackson movies will not be a sufficient substitute for having read the books as they are substantially different.

Homework Expectations

PRIOR TO THE START OF THIS COURSE, students need to have read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy as we hit the ground running in Week 1 where knowing the overview of Tolkien's world and who characters are plus how they fit together are essential.

The homework each week is to read about 50-60 pages of text, watch at least one documentary, write a short summary and answer three short discussion questions which are often based on completion of a short research task on a variety of topics.

Students attend a weekly one hour webinar where we have lots of class discussions and debates (with me talking and the students typing in the chatbox) about the key features of each week’s topic. There is also the (optional) opportunity to take over the role of teacher and do three presentations in class during the year as well as a range of other optional, fun, add-on activities.

How It Supports Your Child's Education

For students aged 12-16 years. While this course does not lead to a specific IGCSE/GCSE qualification, the Middle Earth studies course introduces and reinforces many of the skills needed for successful progression to English and History exam courses. Students who have taken part in the ‘Legendarium: The World of J.R.R Tolkien’ Summer school and want to study Tolkien’s world in more depth will also enjoy this course. 

For US students, this course can fulfill a high school credit in World History.

Who Teaches Middle Earth Studies?

Yvonne Mason took her undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature, then an MA in Medieval Studies from Royal Holloway in London while working as a costumed historical interpreter at the Tower of London. She has been working as an online tutor since 2001 in both English and History. She home educated her daughter for ten years, and is a card carrying member of the Tolkien Society as well as being an avid embroiderer, singer and movie watcher in her spare time. She has plans to study for a PhD in Medieval Studies very soon.
See all courses taught by Yvonne