Module Catalogue 2023/24

SEL3349 : The History of Linguistic Ideas (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Geoffrey Poole
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



1. Familiarize the student with different approaches to the study of human language from antiquity to the present.
2. Examine the major intellectual and cultural trends of the societies in which these approaches were formulated.
3. Enable the student to appreciate both the role that intellectual and cultural contexts play in the development of theories of language and the impact that theories of language can have on intellectual and cultural trends.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics typically covered include: language and linguistics in the Ancient Greek world, the relationship between language and thought, language as a sign system, the discursive construction of meaning, 19th century comparative philology and the rise of the 'Social' Sciences, the Linguistic Turn in 20th century analytic philosophy, Chomsky and the Second Cognitive Revolution

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Understanding of specific historical and current approaches to 'language' and 'languages'.

Awareness of the broad trends of Western European intellectual and social history from antiquity to the present as they relate to the study of human language.

Understanding of specific contexts in which certain theories arose.

Intended Skill Outcomes

The ability to read critically.

Constructive argumentation and critical evaluation of theoretical positions regarding the study of human/language cognition.

The ability to confront and engage with conceptual issues, problems and controversies in intellectual and social history.

The ability to relate general societal trends to specific theories of human language/cognition.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion170:0070:00Open-ended nature of end-of-semester essay means significant research time required
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading160:0060:00Independent study using reading lists and other online resources identified in module materials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Essay consultation
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study137:0037:00General reading and research
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce students to the knowledge and skill outcomes by providing contextual information and demonstrating close reading of scientific/philosophical texts. Seminars consolidate the skill outcomes through conceptual questions distributed for discussion and develop practical skills in essay writing. Private study is an important part of the programme, requiring both directed reading of the material in advance of lectures and as a follow-up to them, and also independently for planning and completing the extended final piece of work, which is on a topic of the student's choice.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M251000 word mid-term essay
Written exercise2A753000 word final essay on a topic of the student's choice
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2M500 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formative essay checks initial understanding of the knowledge and (particularly) skill outcomes, and provides the material for a group feedback exercise conducted in seminar. The summative mid-module 1000 word essay follows on from the formative essay. Both of these essays are on specific topics provided by the module leader.

The end of semester essay, by contrast, has very open-ended titles, allowing the student to pursue a topic of personal interest in depth. Building on the feedback from the module leader and from peers on the previous exercises, it allows them to demonstrate their capacity to apply knowledge to new problems as well as to write clearly and concisely.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes

Original Handbook text:

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.