Faculty of Arts

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedCaulfield Second semester 2012 (Day)
Clayton Second semester 2012 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Carol Williams


Previously coded HSY3645


This unit examines the debate around whether or not King Arthur actually existed and the ways in which the figure of Arthur became a mythic figure in subsequent centuries. It considers the earliest sources relating to Arthur, in particular Geoffrey of Monmouth in the early 12th century, who constructs a credible narrative from earlier sources and Chretien de Troyes later in the same century, who with considerable literary skill transformed the warrior leader into a chivalric king. This myth-making is explored across the centuries through Malory's Morte d'Arthur and into the literature of the 19th century.


The unit aims to provide students with a thorough knowledge of the debate around Arthur and to use this as the starting point for an examination of the concept of medievalism. At a broader level the unit aims to contrast primary historical documents which provide specific truths with literary historical documents which may provide general truths. In addition, the unit also aims to develop students' skills in both independent research and writing and collaborative research and presentation. Specifically, students successfully completing ATS3604 will be expected to demonstrate:

  1. A thorough knowledge of the debate around whether Arthur is a historical or fictional figure;
  2. A comprehensive understanding of medievalism or the body of beliefs, customs and practices of the Middle Ages as related to this topic;
  3. a critical understanding of the various interpretations that inform the historical and contemporary analysis of the ongoing debate;
  4. a stronger understanding of the relationship between fictional and non-fictional representations of Arthur;
  5. enhanced skills in the critical and analytical reading of a variety of texts, including contemporary critique, historical scholarship and non-fictional and fictional narrative reconstructions, and specifically the development of skills in source criticism, critical reading, the development of research and writing skills, especially organising and defending an argument, and writing with precision and imagination; and
  6. the capacity to work with others in a collaborative research project and presentation.
  7. enhanced skills in the formulation of an independent research project.


Source criticism exercise (500 words) : 10%
Class test (1 hour) : 20%
Report (500 words) : 20%
Research essay (including plan) (2500) : 50%
The research essay is a self-generated, independent research project.

Chief examiner(s)

Carol Williams

Contact hours

2 one-hour lectures and a one-hour tutorial for 9 weeks and 1 ninety-minute seminar and a one-hour tutorial for 2 weeks

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study



A minor sequence in History or permission