BA Ancient History and History / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introduction to Egyptian Hieroglyphs 

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE20162
Credit rating 20
Unit level Undefined
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit introduces students to the ‘Classical’, Middle Egyptian phase of the ancient Egyptian language and to the hieroglyphic script with which it is written. After introducing the students to the script, the course will provide a thorough grounding in the fundamentals of Middle Egyptian grammar with a view to enabling the student to read real ancient texts. Text reading for the course will advance from names and titles on funerary monuments to reading funerary formulae and eventually to reading literary texts, introducing students to the breadth and complexity of Egyptian textual culture. The final part of the course will be devoted to the continuous reading of Egyptian literary texts.


The unit aims to:

• introduce students to the hieroglyphic script

• introduce students to Middle Egyptian grammar

• introduce students to the practice of translating Egyptian texts, and ancient texts more broadly

• introduce students to a range of Middle Egyptian textual types both religious and literary in nature.

• encourage students to use their translation skills to more critically engage directly with ancient Egyptian texts, rather than wholly relying on previously translated materials.

Knowledge and understanding

  • To understand the development of the ancient Egyptian language and script.
  • To understand of the range of text types found in ancient Egyptian contexts: religious, funerary, everyday and literary.
  • To demonstrate an awareness of the different stages of translation including transliteration and grammatical analysis.

Intellectual skills

  • To successfully conduct independent translation work.
  • To effectively conduct independent research.
  • To analyse an ancient text’s grammatical structure.

Practical skills

  • To interpret translated material vis a vis its historical and/or socio-cultural significance.
  • To transliterate and translate Middle Egyptian hieroglyphs accurately.
  • To effectively and independently manage time.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • To discuss problems and questions in a group setting.
  • To understand a range of basic grammatical and linguistic concepts.
  • To engage critically with texts in a foreign language.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 60%
Written exam 40%

Final translation assessment (60%)

Feedback methods

Written feedback via Turnitin

Recommended reading

· Collier, M. and Manley, B. 1998. How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs. British Museum Press. 
· Allen, J. P. 2010. Middle Egyptian Grammar: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. Cambridge University Press. 
· Faulkner, R. O. 1954. A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian. Oxford University. 
· Gardiner, A. 1924. Egyptian Grammar. Oxford University. 
· Wilson, P. 2003. Hieroglyphs, A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University. 
· Parkinson, R. and Quirke, S. 1995. Papyrus. British Museum Press. 
· Parkinson, R. 1997. The Tale of Sinuhe, and Other Ancient Egyptian Poems 1940-1640 BC. Oxford University. 
· Parkinson, R. 1991. Voices from Ancient Egypt, an Anthology of Middle Kingdom Writings. British Museum Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Huw Twiston Davies Unit coordinator

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