History of English (PGT) ENGLANG5097

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course offers Masters-level students with little or no former background, an introduction to English historical linguistics, focusing mainly on the early modern period to the present. We look at the history of English through all levels of language (speech, writing, grammar, and the lexicon) and will also use some new and innovative techniques in the field (including the use of electronic resources, historical pragmatics, and sociolinguistic approaches to the past).


1 x 2hr session per week (comprising 1x1hr lecture; 1x 1hr seminar) over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus.

This course may be taught in conjunction with ENGLANG4037, as scheduled on MyCampus.


This is one of the MSc options in English Language & Linguistics, and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level (PGT)

Excluded Courses





Essay (3000 words) - 50%

Historical Data Report (1000 words) - 25%

Portfolio of technical exercises - 25%

Course Aims

This course will provide students with the opportunity to:

■ gain a critical understanding of the principal theories, concepts and principles needed to account for the development and history of English;

■ engage with a range of specialised theories, concepts and principles of the historical study of English at a theoretical level, including those at the forefront

■ apply these specialised principles, and/or instruments and/or analytical techniques to the study of particular texts, with special reference to the period post-1500.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ reproduce, synthesize and critically evaluate a range of specialised theoretical concepts in English historical linguistics, with particular reference to selected developments in the history of the language, largely from the period after around 1500;

■ identify and use specialist electronic resources available for historical linguists to the study of English;

■ deploy specialist analytical skills using the principles of language change (with critical discussion of the limits of explanation and the various theories put forward for understanding language change, including those at the forefront).

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.