Tolkien and Fantasy Online Courses 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I am not a student. Can I take these courses?
2. Do I need any formal qualifications to take these courses?
3. I don't live in the UK. Can I take these courses?
4. How long do the courses run for?
5. How exactly are the courses run?
6. Will I have to be online at specific times, or can I follow the courses at my own pace?
7. Are the courses accredited?
8. How are the courses assessed?
9. How many books will I need to read to follow these online courses?
10. Will the credits of these courses count towards my degree or postgraduate qualification? What if I am a student in a non-UK University?
11. What if I want to take a course for pleasure and I don't wish to be assessed?
12. Will I have any help with my essay?
13. What will my essay be on?
14. Will there be an opportunity for me to do my course essay on a topic I am interested in?
15. When will enrolment open for these courses? How can I keep updated?
16. What can I do if my question has not been answered by the F.A.Q.?


1. I am not a student. Can I take these courses?

Yes! The courses are open to adult learners, as well as university students.

2. Do I need any formal qualifications to take these courses?

No. There are no formal entry requirements for these courses.

3. I don't live in the UK. Can I take these courses?

Yes! The courses can be taken from anywhere in the world. There are no synchronous activities (in which all students should log in at the same time and interact in real time) so time zone differences don't matter either. As long as you can manage with a course written in and delivered via the medium of English, it does not matter where you live.

4. How long do the courses run for?

The courses will run for 12 consecutive weeks, including a reading week in the middle and an essay writing week at the end.

5. How exactly are the courses run?

The courses are taught in 10 online units. There will be a reading week after Unit 5 and an essay writing week after Unit 10. You will have access to Blackboard Academic Suite, Cardiff Met's E-learning Environment, for which you will be given a username and password. The documents for each of the course units will be uploaded on Blackboard each week. This will include your core reading material, accompanied by images when necessary, as well as links to Cardiff Met's e-books, selected articles from academic journals, and occasionally reliable websites and reference works.

In addition to the course documents, each unit will also include a set of questions for you to reflect on and answer. You will have the opportunity to share your thoughts and comments on these questions with your fellow-students by contributing to a Discussion Board. There will be a new forum added to the Discussion Board every week for you to post your comments and ideas on the questions of each unit. Your tutor will also be contributing to each Forum weekly, giving you feedback on your answers and raising further points of discussion. The Discussion Board is also the appropriate space for you to ask questions on each unit's course documents. If you take these courses for credit, then your contributions to the Discussion Board form part of the course assessment (see questions 7 and 8 for more details).

6. Will I have to be online at specific times, or can I follow the courses at my own pace?

The courses are designed to be flexible and allow students to follow the course material at their own pace within the 12-week time-frame. The course documents will be uploaded on Blackboard at the beginning of each week, and your lecturer will be responding to your Discussion Board postings towards the end of each week. When a new unit appears on Blackboard the old ones will remain accessible, so that you can re-read past weeks' units when you need to, or respond to previous weeks' Discussion Board forums. In case you need to be away from your computer for a few days, or even a week, you can still catch up easily with the rest of the class.

7. Are the courses accredited?

"Fantasy Literature: Tales Before and After Tolkien" carries 20 credits at Year 3 Undergraduate Level and "J.R.R. Tolkien: Myth and Middle-earth in Context" carries 20 credits at Masters Level. All students who complete the courses successfully (including the course assessment) will be awarded these credits.

8. How are the courses assessed?

The course assessment consists of 3000 words of Discussion Board contributions (50% of the overall course mark) and a 3000 word written essay (the remaining 50%), which will be submitted, marked and returned electronically.

The Discussion Board contributions are very flexible, as you might choose to contribute a paragraph each week, or choose to concentrate on longer postings less frequently throughout the 12 weeks of the course. Please note that 3000 words is the minimum you need to contribute to the Discussion Board for accreditation - there is nothing to stop you from contributing more! The Discussion Board contributions will be assessed mainly for engagement with the course ideas (and this includes asking questions!).

The essay should be sent to your lecturer electronically at the beginning of the last week of the course. You will receive detailed information and guidance on how to choose a suitable topic, and how and when exactly to submit your essay. Your essay will be first-marked by your lecturer, but your mark will not be released to you until a moderation process (internal and external) has been completed. Your credits for the course will be awarded after the course assessment goes through the Exam Board.

9. How many books will I need to read to follow these online courses?

As soon as you enrol on one of these courses you will be sent a list of primary sources you need to read to be able to follow the course material. We anticipate that most people that will enrol on these courses will already have a considerable interest in Tolkien or Fantasy literature and chances are that you will have read most of the items on the reading list. For the Fantasy course, the reading list you will be sent will also contain some either/or options to read for some units.

In terms of secondary sources, you do not need to read anything in advance, or buy any books. The course material will provide you with the main "lecture" for every unit and will direct you to the occasional article or book chapter you may need to read, which will be accessible to you electronically as part of the course.

10. Will the credits of these courses count towards my degree or postgraduate qualification? What if I am a student in a non-UK University?

The online courses will generate academic credits and these may be used towards a qualification at another Higher Education Institution through the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS); this is sometimes referred to as an application for Advanced Standing. You would need to check if the credits gained are relevant to the qualification and at an appropriate level. Each online course is 20 credits (10 ECTS).

When it comes to Universities or other Higher Education Institutions abroad then it would depend on each institution's policy. You should get in touch with your personal tutor or with a member of staff of your department and find out about your institution's policy. Your lecturer would be happy to answer any questions your institution might have in order to judge if the credits should be transferred or not.

11. What if I want to take a course for pleasure and I don't wish to be assessed?

That's fine and entirely up to you. We recognise that some students may wish to undertake these online courses for pleasure and not seek accreditation. In that case you are more than welcome to contribute to the course Discussion Board (but you will not be assessed on it) and you will not have to submit the final written essay.

12. Will I have any help with my essay?

Yes. You will have access to your lecturer via e-mail so that you can ask questions on your essay topic, enquire about additional bibliography, or discuss the progress of your work.

13. What will my essay be on?

There can be a very wide range of topics to be covered in your course assignment. Towards the middle of the course, you will be provided with a list of potential topics from which you can choose.

14. Will there be an opportunity for me to do my course essay on a topic I am interested in?

Yes, of course! If you have a research interest on a specific area of fantasy literature or Tolkien's work, then you will be encouraged to suggest your own topic, which you can discuss with your lecturer and agree upon.

15. When will enrolment open for these courses? How can I keep updated?

The opening of enrolments, and all other important news, will be announced on our Facebook page (click here) and on our Twitter page (see here) simultaneously. You don't need to be a member of Facebook or Twitter to read our announcements but if you want to be notified as soon as an update is posted, it is worth considering joining one of these two media networks.

16. What can I do if my question has not been answered by the F.A.Q.?

If your question is not addressed here you can e-mail the course lecturer directly at dfimi@cardiffmet.ac.uk