ENG4156 – 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 completion 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 not only to describe and date linguistic changes, but also, to some extent and for select topics, to analyse these changes in terms of linguistic systems and give an account of previous scholarly work on the topic.


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

The ability to analyse modern English as it is taught in 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 ENG2156 – History of the English Language


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

Obligatory activities:


The assessment of the course is based on a term paper of approximately ten standard pages (a standard page consists of 2,300 characters). The topic for the term paper will be determined by the teacher and student together.

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.

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

General assessment guidelines.

Previous exams

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in 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.

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






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language