Accessibility statement

World Englishes



  • The module will give students a broadly-based knowledge of the range of varieties of English spoken around the world, including their linguistic classification.
  • The module is mainly sociolinguistic in approach, in that it deals with variation (both diachronic and synchronic) in each variety considered.
  • The module emphasises the linguistic systematicity of the cross-variety differences, while seeking common characteristics and trends between the varieties.

By the end of this module, students will typically:

  • be able to display an understanding of the histories of varieties of English throughout the world;
  • have a detailed knowledge of some aspects of the phonology and grammar of these varieties;
  • have a critical understanding of the widely varying sociolinguistic characteristics of these varieties, including debates about their origins and (changing) political status;
  • be able to describe the socially-based variation that exists in the English as spoken in each of the territories considered;
  • be able to analyse and discuss data from varieties of English presented to them;
  • understand and be able to discuss arguments from different theoretical standpoints relating to the formation, history and current sociolinguistic status of particular varieties, as well as describe some of their linguistic characteristics.



Students must have successfully completed the following:

  • L09C Introduction to phonetics and phonology
  • L10C Introduction to sociolinguistics

Information for visiting students: Please contact the convenor to check whether your studies at your home university provide you with the relevant academic background for this module.



Contact hours

Three contact hours per week.

Teaching programme

Topics will normally be selected from the following:

  • Typologies of English
  • Dialect change in Britain: 1750-1950
  • Regional variation in Britain I
  • Regional variation in Britain II
  • Regional variation in Britain III
  • Colonial expansion I: Ireland
  • Colonial expansion II: North America
  • Colonial expansion III: the example of New Zealand
  • Colonial expansion IV: the English of the forced migrants and the colonised peoples: African American English
  • English in the Outer Circle
  • Atlantic creoles
  • English and globalisation

Teaching materials

Recommended textbook:

  • Schneider, E. W. (2011). English around the world: an introduction. CUP.

Also recommended:

  • Melchers, G. & P. Shaw (2011). World Englishes (2nd edition). Arnold.

Other books we will refer to:

  • Schneider, E. W. (2007). Postcolonial English. CUP.
  • Kachru, B., Y. Kachru & C. Nelson (2009). The handbook of World Englishes. Blackwell.
  • Kirkpatrick, A. (2010). Routledge handbook of World Englishes. Routledge.
  • Cheshire, J. (ed.) (1989). English around the world. CUP.
  • Foulkes, P. & G. Docherty (eds.) (1999). Urban voices. Arnold.
  • Britain, D. (ed.) (2007). Language in the British Isles. CUP.

Assessment and feedback

Assessment and feedback

Formative work and feedback

  • Solving exercises in seminars throughout the term with immediate oral feedback.

Summative assessment and feedback

  • Essay
    A 1500-word essay/mini-project based on a list of topics, due in Week 8 of the Autumn Term
    • Weight: 30%
    • Feedback: Written comments on summative work available to view at sight of scripts session in Spring Term.
  • 2-hour closed exam
    • Week 1, Spring Term
    • Weight: 70%
    • Feedback: Written comments on summative work available to view at sight of scripts session in Spring term.

About this module

  • Module name
    World Englishes
  • Course code
    E/L31I (LAN00031I)
  • Teacher
    Paul Kerswill
  • Term(s) taught
  • Credits