Module Catalogue 2023/24

SEL2212 : Early English: Texts, Patterns and Varieties

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Karen Corrigan
  • Lecturer: 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

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00Introducing key linguistic features of different periods, and details of socio-historical context
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion147:0047:00Preparation and completion of mid-module and end-of-semester assignments
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading133:0033:00Independent study using reading lists and other online resources identified in module materials
Guided Independent StudySkills practice133:0033:00Independent study focusing on the analysis of historical texts
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Small-group discussion focusing on sample texts from each period of the language
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork18:008:00Trip to Jarrow and Holy Island.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study146:0046:00General reading and revision
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
SEL8361The Social History of English
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecture materials will 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.

Small Group Teaching will involve detailed textual analysis work of various types, focusing mainly on sample texts from each of the key periods in the history of the English language. These sessions also aim to enhance understanding of approaches to historical texts from a linguistic perspective.

The guided independent study will involve: (a) following up on reading and other resources identified in the lecture materials; (b) practising and developing the skills in linguistic analysis that will be the basis for the small group sessions; and (c) other general reading and revision that will aid in preparation for the mid-module and end-of-semester assignments.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M401500 words
Written exercise2A60Section 1: text analysis. Section 2: essay (c.2500 words total)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

(1) The mid-module essay (40%) 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) The end-of-semester written exercise (60%) focuses on: (a) the close analysis of linguistic features of sample texts, informed by background knowledge and the skills 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 2023/24 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 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.