ENG4167 – Linguistics and literature in English

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

Linguistics is the study of the structure of language and how language is used. Literature involves the use of language, sometimes in ways that push language to its limits.

This course explores ways that theoretical tools from linguistics can be applied to understand  how literary texts are interpreted, and, conversely, ways in which literary texts provide interesting data and problems for theories of language and its use.

Key questions for this course include:

Are literary texts and their interpretations significantly different from other kinds of language use, and if so how?

Can linguistic theories explain the open-ended nature of literary texts and the active role of the reader?

Learning outcome

After completing this course you will

• be familiar with the application of linguistic theories to the analysis of literary texts

• have knowledge of theoretical accounts of figurative speech and poetic effects

• have insight into the contested notion of the meaning of a literary text

• have advanced skills in scholarly writing that applies one or more linguistic theories to literary texts


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

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

The course is aimed at both language and literature students. All that is required is interest in both linguistic theory and the study of literature, and knowledge of one of them.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with ENG2167 – Linguistics and literature in English


The course is taught for 11 weeks of the semester, with a two hour seminar per week: 22 hours in all.

Obligatory activities:

  • For Spring 2021, attendance is not required, but highly recommended. Students must play an active role in the seminars in order for the teaching to be effective.
  • Students are required to hand in one paper of an acceptable standard by a set deadline during the semester to be allowed to submit the term paper.
  • Rules concerning valid excuses and how to apply for postponements. 


The assessment of the course is based on a term paper of approximately ten standard pages (a standard page consists of 2,300 characters). This does not include references and bibliography. In the evaluation, both content and language are taken into account.

Assessment guidelines.

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

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.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language