Term paper in English linguistics: historical linguistics

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The course provides an introduction to central aspects of the historical development of English. The course may either examine several of the stages in this development, or focus on one specific period. Moreover, the course may cover both language-internal and language-external aspects, and examine features of word and sentence structure, pronunciation, vocabulary and spelling.

In addition to the theoretical literature, the course will normally include the study of primary texts from earlier stages of English.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • has extended his or her understanding of the English language from a historical perspective.
  • has insight into the principles of language change in general and an understanding of changes in English in particular


The student

  • is able to discuss and analyse English in light of historical developments

General competence

The students

  • have developed a critical and independent approach to central linguistic questions
  • are able to express themselves in correct academic English

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction


Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
No formal requirements, but see "Recommended previous knowledge".
Recommended Previous Knowledge

It is recommended that students have completed the introductory semester as well as ENG110 (or ENG114, ENG115), ENG120 (or ENG107, ENG108/118, ENG109/119), ENG122, and ENG125, or equivalent.

For students with a background other than the Norwegian school system, a level of competence in English corresponding to C1 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages is recommended.

Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Due to course overlap, the received credits for ENG261 will be reduced in combination with ENG225, ENG265, ENG221L, ENG201, ENG211, and ENG251. Students cannot receive credits for both ENG261 and ENG221.
Access to the Course

The course is open to all students admitted to the University of Bergen.

For exchange students: Applicants have to document English language proficiency to access the course. Students should hold a level of C1 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR). For valid tests, please see uib.no/exchange.

Teaching and learning methods

Seminars: up to 24 hours (normally 2 hours per week for 12 weeks).

In the case that fewer than five students register for a course, the organized teaching may be adapted to fit the number of students. If this occurs, students will be informed at the start of the semester, and before the registration deadline 1 February/1 September.

Students are expected to take part in and actively contribute to teaching. This expectation is also the basis for the preparation towards the exam.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Students shall hand in a draft of their term paper of minimum 500 words. There will be supervision individually or in groups. Students have the right to supervision in working with the term paper. Supervision is also compulsory and must be completed at least 2 times. Students must follow guidelines and meet deadlines set by the Department and the course teacher. Students who fail to meet these requirements may not submit their term paper for assessment.

Compulsory assignments are valid for the teaching semester and the following semester.

Forms of Assessment

The exam is a supervised term paper of 4500 words (±10%), where the student, in a separate chapter of 1000 words (±10%) on theory, data and methods, presents their thoughts on the theoretical and methodological approach chosen in the term paper. The student chooses the topic of the term paper in agreement with the course instructor. The bibliography and attachments are not included in the word count.

Additionally, there is an oral examination in which students are assessed on the entire syllabus and the written work they have submitted. Following the oral examination, the final grade for the term paper may be adjusted up or down by one letter grade. Both the term paper and oral examination must be passed in order to pass the course, and both must be passed in the same semester.

The term paper fulfills the requirements for an independent piece of research that can be part of a bachelor degree.

Grading Scale
The exam is marked on the grade scale A-F, where F is a fail.
Assessment Semester
Spring. A new exam for students with valid absence from the regular exam is arranged in the beginning of the following semester.
Reading List

The reading list is comprised of general topics in the history of English, as well as primary texts.

The reading list will be available by 1 December for the spring semester.

Course Evaluation
The teaching is evaluated in accordance with the quality control system of the University of Bergen.
Examination Support Material
Programme Committee
The Programme Board is responsible for the academic content and structure of the study programme, and for the quality of all the subjects therein.
Course Coordinator
The Programme Board for English.
Course Administrator
The Department of Foreign Languages at the Faculty of Humanities has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.