LING320-23S1 (D) Semester One 2023 (Distance)

History of English

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


This course explores language variation and change, and illustrates these notions through a survey of the way in which English has varied and changed during its recorded history. It will look both at the social history of the language and the linguistic changes that have taken place over the last 1400 years.

English is not a single monolithic entity; it comes in many different varieties, depending on factors like geography, the social status of its speakers and whether it is used as a first or second language.  In order to understand how English became so multi-faceted, this course traces the development of the language from its inception in 5th Century early Germanic Britain, through the various social changes that shaped its trajectory in the middle ages to its eventual spread to other shores where today it is a global lingua franca.   Although the focus in this course will primarily be on the changing linguistic structure of English (i.e. how the phonological, morphological and syntactic system changed over a millennium), in order to understand why these changes took place, it will also be necessary to look at the changing society in which English was being used.  This course will therefore offer both a linguistic and a social history of English.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will:

- Understand some of the main linguistic changes and developments in English since 500AD
- Use technical terminology to describe the linguistic changes affecting English
- Understand how social factors affected the development of the English Language since 500AD

As a student in this course you will not only acquire subject specific skills, you will also acquire a number of transferrable skills.  For example, by the end of this course you will be able to...  

- Read critically and objectively
- Produce an academic literature review
- Develop analytical skills
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key developments in the history of English
- Write an academic essay
- Meet deadlines

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.


LING101 and any 15 points at 200 level from any subject.


LING220, ENLA320

Recommended Preparation

Any LING 200 level course

Course Coordinator

Lynn Clark

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Gramley, Stephan; The History of English : an Introduction ; 2nd ed; Routledge, 2018.

NOTE: additional reading will be made available at various points during the term on Learn.  You will also be encouraged to find your own sources of literature, especially when researching the class essay.

Course links

Library portal

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,641.00

International fee $7,500.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences .

All LING320 Occurrences

  • LING320-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023
  • LING320-23S1 (D) Semester One 2023 (Distance)