Accessibility statement

History of English II



  • To give you an understanding of the development of the English language from the Old English period to the present day within a framework of ideas about the causation and progress of linguistic change.
  • To explore, in-depth, scholarly literature on the historical developments which have shaped the English language.
  • To more carefully consider the social context of these changes.

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Understand some of the major linguistic events in the history of the English language, and the social context in which they are embedded.
  • Read a scholarly article on the history of English and understand the key points of the article.
  • Write a piece in appropriate academic prose reviewing and discussing the findings of a scholarly article on the history of English.



Students must have successfully completed:

  • L09C Introduction to phonetics and phonology (LAN00009C)
  • L11C Introduction to syntax (LAN00011C)
  • E02C History of English I (LAN00002C)

Information for visiting students: You should have taken introductory courses in linguistics, and either a course introducing you to the history of English, or a course in Old or Middle English in which you read the language, not simply literature in translation.



Contact hours

Minimum of two contact hours per week.

Teaching programme

The module covers:

  • The general sociolinguistic history of English from the earliest periods, including discussion of the impact of contact and processes of standardization.
  • The analysis of the historical development of a few historically central, specific areas of phonology, morphology and syntax.

Teaching materials


Suggestions for reading before the module starts

The following books would be suitable as background reading. They are not required texts.

  • Barber, Charles (1993) The English Language: A Historical Introduction. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Baugh, A.C. and T. Cable (4th edition 1993) A History of the English Language. London: Routledge.
  • Crystal, David (2004) The Stories of English. Penguin.
  • Mugglestone, Lynda (2006) The Oxford History of English. Oxford: OUP.
  • Smith, Jeremy (1996) An Historical Study of English: Function, Form and Change. London: Routledge.

Assessment and feedback

Assessment and feedback

Formative assessment and feedback

  • Formative exercises done individually or in groups throughout the module
  • Feedback will include written comments and oral feedback during class discussions.

Summative assessment and feedback

  • 1500-word essay
    • Due: Summer Term, Week 1
    • Weight: 30%
  • Two-hour closed examination
    • Summer Term, Weeks 5-7
    • Weight: 70%

About this module

  • Module name
    History of English II
  • Course code
    E01I (LAN00001I)
  • Teacher
    Caitlin Light
  • Term(s) taught 
  • Credits