Skip to main content


SEL2212 : Early English: Texts, Patterns and Varieties

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Adam Mearns
  • Lecturer: Dr William van der Wurff, Professor Karen Corrigan
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


• 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

The module is taught in two lectures and one seminar per week. The lectures provide a chronological survey of English, examining the major features of Old English, Middle English, and Early and Late Modern English. They also explore special topics such as standard languages, variation and language contact, with examples drawn from Scots, Irish and American as well as English varieties. The seminars examine the language in action by focusing on reading and analysis of texts which range across the centuries and across genre, from chronicle to letters and recipes to poetry. Two seminars take the form of visits (one to historic sites in Northumbria, the other to examine manuscripts and early printed books) which focus on language in particular historic and cultural contexts.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading153:0053:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00N/A
Guided Independent StudySkills practice110:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork18:008:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity120:0020:00inc. 10 hours directed groupwork
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study126:0026:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures 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.

Seminars will focus on detailed textual work of various types. They also aim to enhance understanding of approaches to historical texts from a linguistic perspective, and to practise and improve oral presentation skills.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A50N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M351500 words
Prof skill assessmnt2M15This will either take the form of a collaborative oral presentation or an individual poster presentation
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The examination focuses mainly on close analysis of texts, informed by background knowledge; it also provides a chance to synthesise data and ideas in a short discursive essay. The submitted essay enables students to apply their knowledge more broadly, to investigate a chosen topic and to develop their written expression. The presentation assignment arises from the essay. It assesses the student’s ability to synthesize information concisely and present it coherently in oral/written form.

Reading Lists