SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Historical Linguistics (Masters)

Module Code:
Taught in:
Term 1

All languages are constantly in a process of change and over time related languages can diverge and become different from one another. Linguists have developed techniques for studying language change and for comparing languages in order to group them into families and reconstruct their parent forms. 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The aim of this module is to familiarise students with the techniques of language comparison and reconstruction, based on materials from the study of Indo-European languages, but also illustrating the methods with data from a range of other language families. At the conclusion of the module, students will be familiar with reconstruction and comparison methods for any set of language data.


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a lecture.

Method of assessment

Analysis of data set of 500 words to be submitted on Friday of Week 4 (12.5%); analysis of data set of 500 words to be submitted on Friday of Week 6 (12.5%); analysis of data set of 1000 words to be submitted on Friday of Week 9 (25%); a research essay of 2000 words to be submitted on Friday of Week 1 of the following term (50%).

Suggested reading

The reading list will be made available from the convenor at the beginning of the module.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules