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Image: Felucca sailing on the River Nile

Short Courses

We run a number of non-credit bearing courses in Egyptology to enable you to study specific aspects of ancient Egyptian history and culture online. Our courses are open to students worldwide, as all course material is delivered over the internet.

You will learn from Egyptologist Dr Joyce Tyldesley and Dr Nicky Nielsen, studying through a combination of written learning modules, independent (online) research, group discussions, quizzes and recorded lectures.

Each course includes an introductory unit useful to those new to the study of ancient Egypt, as well as an introduction to the online learning environment, and help with study skills. This preliminary information is made available to registered students two weeks before the formal course starts.


Our courses

We run the following courses twice a year, starting in May and October.

Speech of the Gods I: Beginners Middle Egyptian

The Ancient Egyptian civilisation flourished in the Nile Valley for more than 3,000 years.

Much of our understanding of this great culture comes from its writings; from the monumental inscriptions that the Egyptians dedicated to their gods, their kings and their ancestors, and from the literary and moralistic tales that they left their descendants.

This script, dubbed hieroglyphikos – Sacred Engravings – by the ancient Greeks, was known to the Egyptians as medu-netjer, Speech of the Gods. After the fall of Pharaonic Egypt, the knowledge of how to read hieroglyphs was lost for more than 1,400 years until the script was deciphered by the French scholar Jean Francois Champollion in 1822.

This Short Course will enable students to read basic formulaic inscriptions which they might encounter in a museum setting (such as the Offering Formula). As the course is at a beginner's level, it assumes no prior knowledge of hieroglyphs or any other ancient script or language on the part of the students.

Course Tutor: Dr Nicky Nielsen


Week 1: Divine Speech

Week 2: From Horapollo to Champollion

Week 3: The Structure of the Script

Week 4: Phonetic Complements, Prepositions and Divine Names

Week 5: Titles, Epithets and Nouns

Week 6: The Offering Formula

Speech of the Gods II: Intermediate Middle Egyptian

This course builds on the lessons drawn from Beginners Middle Egyptian and therefore presumes an intermediate level of knowledge on the part of the participants.

The aim of this Short Course is to enable students to read basic sentences from Middle Egyptian literary texts which have, in some cases, been simplified by the course tutor for ease of reading.

Course Tutor: Dr Nicky Nielsen


Week 1: The Past Tense

Week 2: The Present Tense

Week 3: The Infinitive

Week 4: Adjectives and Numbering

Week 5: Negation and Independent Pronouns

Week 6: The Royal Names

Speech of the Gods III: Advanced Middle Egyptian

This course will function as a direct continuation of Intermediate Middle Egyptian and presumes that the students have at least this skill level.

The aim of this Short Course is to prepare students to read longer portions of Middle Egyptian literary texts.

Course Tutor: Dr Nicky Nielsen


Week 1: The Appeal to the Living

Week 2: Nominal Sentences

Week 3: The Future sDm=f

Week 4: Relative Forms

Week 5: Participles

Week 6: Military Biographies

Queens of Ancient Egypt

For over three thousand years Egypt’s queens provided the essential female element that would allow the kingship to function correctly. The queen of Egypt was, first and foremost, a supportive wife and mother. But hers was not a passive role. In times of dynastic crisis the queen was expected to act as her husband’s deputy. She might be required to marshal troops, or to rule on behalf of an infant son. She might even be called upon to rule in her own right in the absence of a more suitable king.

Taking a chronological approach, with an emphasis on the queens of the New Kingdom, Queens of Ancient Egypt uses a combination of archaeological and textual evidence to explore the developing role of the Egyptian queen consort from Predynastic times until the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BC. It is a fascinating story of political power, divinity and death.

Can it ever be valid to tell a “woman’s history”, focussing on just one aspect of a mechanism as complicated as the Egyptian royal family? Take this Short Course, and find out.

Course Tutor: Dr Joyce Tyldesley


Week 1: The Royal Women of Ancient Egypt

Week 2: Pyramid Queens: Queens of the Old and Middle Kingdoms

Week 3: Fighting Queens: Queens of the 17th and Earlier 18th Dynasty

Week 4: Sun Queens: the Royal Women of Amarna

Week 5: Queens and God's Wives

Week 6: Ptolemaic Queens

Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt supplies some startling statistics: 3,000 years of dynastic rule by at least 300 heroic kings who recognised at least 1,500 deities. This immense time span saw the development of a complex and frequently contradictory mythology peopled by a vast and ever increasing pantheon whose members changed name, appearance and character with startling regularity, frequently splitting into different components or fusing to form a deity more powerful than the sum of his or her parts. Their stories, the science and history of their age, entertain while providing explanations for the mysteries of creation, existence and death that challenge every community. In so doing they provide a glimpse into the thoughts and fears of the ancient mind.

This Short Course uses a combination of dynastic and Classical art, archaeology, literature and mythology to explore the nature of some of Egypt's better known gods and goddesses.

Course Tutor: Dr Joyce Tyldesley


Week 1: Atum and the Creation of the World

Week 2: The Sun God Re

Week 3: Hathor, the Golden One

Week 4: Osiris: King of the Dead

Week 5: Horus and Seth

Week 6: Isis


On 4 November 1922, Howard Carter discovered a flight of steps leading down to the long-lost tomb of the little-known 18th Dynasty king, Tutankhamen. The tomb was virtually intact and Tutankhamen's mummified body still lay inside, surrounded by grave goods.

This was by no means the first royal mummy to be discovered, nor the most important, yet Tutankhamen quickly became a celebrity and Egyptology acquired a popular appeal that was reflected beyond the academic world in fashion, architecture and fiction. Meanwhile in Egypt, an increasingly independent country struggling to enter the modern world, the discovery raised questions about colonialism and the ownership of Egypt's past.

Almost a century after the great discovery, Tutankhamen is undoubtedly ancient Egypt's most famous king. But what do we actually know about Tutankhamen, king of Egypt, his family and his relatively brief reign? This Short Course explores the life and times of Tutankhamen, drawing upon a combination of archaeological, textual and biomedical evidence to reconstruct a still-developing story.

Course Tutor: Dr Joyce Tyldesley


Week 1: Tutankhamen in Context: the Late 18th Dynasty

Week 2: The Discovery of Tutankhamen's Tomb

Week 3: Tutankhamen's Grave Goods

Week 4: Finding a Family for Tutankhamen

Week 5: The Life and Death of an Egyptian King

Week 6: Egyptian Curses: Ancient and Modern

Discovering Ancient Egypt

Five thousand years ago the land of the papyrus and the land of the lotus united to form one long, thin country ruled by one semi-divine king. For the next three thousand years Egypt would maintain a culture so distinctive that even today, some two thousand years after the last pharaoh occupied throne of the Two Lands, it has instant, universal recognition.

That this ancient culture holds a powerful fascination for western observers is undeniable. Why this should be so is less obvious. Why are the Egyptian galleries of our museums packed with visitors, while neighbouring galleries remain empty? Why do television programmes about Egypt attract huge audiences, while programmes about other, equally ancient cultures do not? There is no simple answer to these questions, and many Egyptophiles cannot themselves explain the attraction that they feel so strongly.

Our obsession with ancient Egypt has inspired many to search for treasure in Egypt’s sands. All of these can be loosely classified as “Egyptologists” but their methods and motives have varied widely. Some are archaeologists who travel to Egypt to excavate under the hot sun. Some are linguists who work in dark libraries barely seeing the light of day. Increasingly, many are scientists who view ancient Egypt through a microscope lens. A few have worked openly and unashamedly for financial reward, cashing in on the western willingness to pay for artifacts and information. Together their work combines to become the story of the discovery of ancient Egypt: the story of this Short Course.

Course Tutor Dr Joyce Tyldesley


Week 1: A Re-discovered Land

Week 2: Decoding the Stones

Week 3: Knowledge-Seekers and Tourists

Week 4: Protecting the Monuments

Week 5: The Valley of the Kings

Week 6: Egyptology Today

Course structure

Each course consists of six learning modules, released weekly for six weeks. Although these six learning modules are released on a weekly basis, they do not have to be completed within that week, as the course remains open for four weeks after the release of the last module to allow time for late completion and further discussion.

Students who complete all six specified activities and contribute regularly to the course discussion boards will receive a Certificate of Completion.

Each learning module is estimated to take between four and six hours to complete (between 24 and 36 hours for the whole short course).

Fees and how to apply

The fee is £270 per short course. You can pay either online with a debit or credit card through the University e-store, or by personal or building society cheque (UK students only). Contact for more information about paying by cheque.

Please ensure you meet our computer requirements and that you read the terms and conditions (PDF) before completing the registration form.

Before applying, please refer to The University's Privacy Notice for prospective students, applicants and offer-holders so that you are aware of how your data will be processed:


You can start each short course at two points in the academic year, 15 October (register by 30 September) and 15 May (register by 30 April).

Please note that places on the courses are limited, so you are advised to complete the registration form as early as possible to avoid disappointment.