ENG4103 – Historical English Syntax

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course gives an introduction to some of the most important (morpho)syntactic changes in the English language in the period c.1380-1800, i.e. late Middle English and early Modern English. These changes are described, and possible explanatory models are presented; language as a system is vital in this respect.

The corpus linguistic method is used to extract relevant data, which are analysed and collated with traditional accounts of linguistic change in English.

Learning outcome

After completing this course you will have:

  • gained the ability to account for some of the most important (morpho)syntactic changes in English in the period 1380-1800.
  • learned how to date and describe these changes, but also to place them in a larger perspective as part of a linguistic system.
  • gained the ability to present possible explanations for the changes in question.
  • learned how to extract and analyse relevant data from linguistic corpora of historical English.


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.


Recommended previous knowledge

It is highly recommended that students have taken ENG2156 – History of the English Language or ENG4156 – History of the English Language course or a similar course in English historical linguistics.


This course will be offered as directed reading. If you are interested in this course, you can send an application by e-mail to the administration officer for English Language. The application must include the reason for why you wish to take this course. The course will admit a maximum of three students for directed reading per semester.


The exam consists of a term paper of 10 pages (4000 words) on one of the topics investigated in this course.

Students are required to submit the term paper at an appointed time. Beforehand, students will be given an opportunity to submit a draft of the term paper and receive individual feedback on both the form and content of the draft.

You submit your paper in Inspera. Read more about submission procedures.

The term paper is the basis for the grade in this course.

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.

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

Withdrawal from an examination

A term paper or equivalent that is passed may not be resubmitted in revised form.

If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline, 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






Autumn 2019

This course will be offered as directed reading.


Autumn 2019

Teaching language