Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Beginning of the English Language
Academic Year
Semester 1

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Takeaway Exam  50%
Semester Assessment Assignment 1  (2,000 words)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Assignment 1  ​(2,000 words). Students who fail the module will be required to pass any failed coursework elements during the supplementary exam period.  50%
Supplementary Assessment Takeaway Exam  Students who fail the module will be required to pass the supplementary resit exam unless they passed the exam period exam.  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between history and language change.

2. Situate literary texts within the development of the English language.

3. Illustrate a developing command of linguistic terminology relevant for the study of language change.

4. Discuss language change and its relevance for literary studies in a conceptualy sound, focussed and coherent manner.

Brief description

This module explores the beginnings and developments of the English language from the early medieval period through the age of Shakespeare. Students will study different approaches to the study of language change and explore the implications of key historical events and cultural developments between the arrival of the first Anglo-Saxons in Britain during the 5th century AD and the age of Shakespeare in the 16th and 17th centuries. Throughout the module, selected key texts from English literary history, from The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle via Beowulf, medieval lyrics, The Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare’s sonnets to John Donne’s poetry will be used to trace language change from Old English via Middle English to Early Modern English. This engagement with language through time will further develop students’ understanding of literature and the study of literature in history. It will be helpful for students who will be studying EN10220 (Ancestral Voices) and EN31320 (In the Olde Dayes: Medieval Texts and their World).


This module aims to develop students’ understanding of the beginnings and developments of the English language. This will be achieved through an exploration of theories of language change, an introduction to key events from English history between the arrival of the first Anglo-Saxons and the Great Vowel Shift in the early modern period. Examples from literary history will be utilised to enhance students’ awareness of the relevance of language change for their pursuit of literary studies over the course of their degree.


Week 1: Introduction to the module
Week 2: Key events in medieval English history
Week 3: Introduction to Old English
Week 4: Reading Old English
Week 5: Introduction to Middle English
Week 6: Early Middle English literature
Week 7: Middle English poetry
Week 8: Introduction to Early Modern English
Week 9: Early modern poetry
Week 10: Revision and assessment advice

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written) By expressing ideas in coherent ways. (Oral) Through group discussions and and small group activities.
Improving own Learning and Performance Through independent and directed research and reading. By engaging with assessment feedback in order to raise attainment.
Information Technology By using word processing packages and making use of Blackboard and other e-resources to research and access course documents and other materials.
Personal Development and Career planning Through increased critical self-reflection and the development of transferable, ICT, communication and research skills.
Problem solving By evaluative analysis and critical skills.
Research skills By independent and directed research and synthesizing information in critically evaluative ways.
Subject Specific Skills Through reading, writing and researching skills involved in the study of language change. Through the use of and understanding of language change for analyses of literary texts.
Team work Students will have the opportunity to work in teams for some group activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 4