ENG2156 – History of the English Language

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The course offers an introduction to English language history, paying attention to language changes, language contact, and the development into a modern national language in particular. An introduction is also given to the main characteristics of Old English and Middle English.

Learning outcome

Upon completon of this course, you will:

  • have a fair knowledge of the main lines of development of written English from approximately 700 AD to modern times.
  • know the most important changes in the fields of phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics.
  • know the basic structure of Old English, Middle English and Early Modern English grammar; to this end, you will have studied the most central characteristics of the language of the syllabus texts.
  • be able to describe and date linguistic changes.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

This course requires ENG1100 – English Grammar and ENG1103 – English Phonetics and Intonation or similar courses.

Recommended previous knowledge

The course assumes a good proficiency in written and oral English.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with ENG4156 – History of the English Language


Seminar, two hours per week for 14 weeks, 28 hours in total.

Obligatory activities:

  • Attendance is obligatory at least 11 out of 14 seminars.
  • Students are required to submit two qualifying papers of 3 standard pages each at an appointed time. A standard page consists of 2,300 characters. The essays must be approved by the course teacher for the student to be allowed to take the exam.
  • Additional absences must be justified to the exam coordinator. Read more about rules concerning valid excuses and how to apply for approved absences or postponements. Please note that absence exceeding 50 % of all seminars may not be approved, regardless of any excuses.


The exam consists of a final 4-hour written exam.

Previous exams and assessment guidelines.

Written examination

The written examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera. You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera.

Read more about written examinations using Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Examination support material

Macmillan Dictionary will be offered in the digital examination system Inspera. You are not allowed to bring your own dictionary to the exam.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Once the course requirements have been fulfilled, they remain valid for the current and the two consecutive semesters when the course is given.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Reports from periodic evaluations (in Norwegian)

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language