Module Catalogue 2020/21

SEL2212 : Early English: Texts, Patterns and Varieties

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Adam Mearns
  • Lecturer: Professor Karen Corrigan, Dr William van der Wurff
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
SEL1032Language Variation and Change: Dealing with Data
Pre Requisite Comment

For incoming exchange students: basic introductory course(s) in linguistics

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



• To develop students' competence in reading texts from a variety of periods in the history of English;
• To develop students’ ability to analyse linguistic features of texts;
• To build on the knowledge and skills relating to language change gained in SEL1032 (Language Variation and Change);
• To enhance students’ knowledge of the processes by which the English language has evolved into its present-day state;
• To develop competence in using dictionaries, historical corpora and other electronic resources.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lecture material provides a chronological survey of English, examining the major features of Old English, Middle English, and Early and Late Modern English. It also explores special topics related to the socio-historical and linguistic context in the areas of standard languages, variation and language contact, with examples potentially drawn from Scots, Irish and American varieties, as well as English varieties. Small group classes focus on the detailed examination of the language in action, with an emphasis on the reading and analysis of texts which range across the centuries and across genres, including literary texts and personal letters.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students who have successfully completed this module
(1) have a good knowledge of the historical evolution of English;
(2) have a good knowledge of the way linguistic properties of English in its various periods can be expected to manifest themselves in texts;
(3) have gained a good knowledge of the resources that can aid the understanding of historical texts in English, including dictionaries and electronic corpora;
(4) have a good knowledge of the mechanisms of language change.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Students who have successfully completed this module
(1) are able to independently examine historical English texts at all levels of linguistic structure;
(2) are able to apply with ease concepts and theories relevant to linguistic change;
(3) are able to present the results of their research/analysis in a variety of different forms.

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:0060:00Preparation and completion of mid-module and end-of-semester assignments
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials92:0018:00Introducing key linguistic features of different periods, and details of socio-historical context
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities92:0018:00Textual analysis exercises in preparation for weekly small-group teaching sessions
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading128:0028:00Independent study using reading lists and other online resources identified in module materials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Synchronous online small-group discussion, focusing on sample texts from each period of the language
Guided Independent StudySkills practice128:0028:00Independent study focusing on the analysis of historical texts
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery91:009:00Synchronous group sessions picking up on issues/questions identified in the small group sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00General reading and revision
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
SEL8361The Social History of English
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecture Material will be used to provide information about the features of the English language in its various periods, outline historical contexts, demonstrate and discuss methods and resources for text analysis, and provide overall coherence for the module.

Academic Skills Activities focus on practising the kind of textual analysis which will be a focus of the Small Group Teaching, and assessed as part of the end-of-semester Written Exercise.

Small Group Teaching will focus on detailed textual work of various types. These sessions also aim to enhance understanding of approaches to historical texts from a linguistic perspective.

Drop-in/Surgery sessions present the opportunity for further discussion of the topics and issues covered by the lecture materials, and in the small group teaching sessions.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M351500 words
Prof skill assessmnt2M15An individual poster presentation (equivalent to c.500 words)
Written exercise2A50Section 1: text analysis. Section 2: essay (c.2000 words total)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

(1) The mid-module essay allows students to explore and demonstrate their knowledge of concepts and/or theories related to the socio-historical evolution and linguistic features of English in its earlier periods (Old and Middle English), deriving mainly from the material and reading suggestions presented through lectures. (2) In the individual poster (prof skill assessment), students will present some aspect(s) or element(s) of the material from their mid-module essay in poster form, aimed at a different kind of (non-specialist) reader. This assignment therefore assesses the student’s ability to synthesize information concisely and present it coherently in a different form, and for a different audience. Where appropriate or with prior permission from the module leader students may submit: An individual poster submission (equivalent 500 words) (3) The end-of-semester written exercise focuses on: (a) the close analysis of linguistic features of sample texts, informed by background knowledge and the practice gained from similar textual analysis in the small-group teaching sessions; and (b) a chance to synthesise data and ideas in a short discursive essay focusing on linguistic and socio-historical issues related to the later periods of English (Early Modern and Late Modern).


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.