• Class Number 9513
  • Term Code 2960
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Bethwyn Evans
    • Dr Bethwyn Evans
    • Maria Kristina Gallego
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/07/2019
  • Class End Date 25/10/2019
  • Census Date 31/08/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 29/07/2019
SELT Survey Results

This course takes as its starting point the fact that all languages change. It explores explanations and motivations for change across different linguistic domains, as well as the ways in which our understanding of language change enables us to reconstruct past linguistic states and make certain cultural inferences. The course introduces students, on a global scale, to cross-linguistic tendencies of language change, the linguistic and socio-cultural factors that underpin language change, and models of language classification. Both traditional and innovative theories and methodologies are shaped by the study of two large language families: Indo-European, encompassing languages from Ireland in western Europe to India and Bangladesh in South Asia; and Austronesian, which spans Asia and the Pacific, from Taiwan to Easter Island. Students will learn about the role of these two language families in past and on-going developments in the field of historical linguistics, and in our understanding of general principles of language change and linguistic reconstruction.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. demonstrate an understanding of how and why languages change;
  2. apply methods of describing linguistic changes and reconstruct earlier stages of languages;
  3. evaluate and apply models for determining genetic relationships between languages
  4. undertake guided research in some area of language change.

Required Resources

The textbook for this course is:

Millar, Robert McColl. 2015. Trask's historical linguistics. Oxon, UK: Routledge. (third edition)

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Written comments on individual assessment items
  • Verbal comments in classes to the whole class, small groups and to individuals

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction to historical linguistics week 1
2 Understanding sound change weeks 2-3
3 Linguistic reconstruction weeks 4-5
4 Relationships among languages week 6
5 Understanding grammatical change weeks 7-9
6 Understanding language change in context weeks 10-12

Tutorial Registration

There is a single tutorial time for this course, so there is no need to sign-up for tutorial classes.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Online quizzes 5 % 29/07/2019 31/10/2019 1,2,3
Tutorial participation 10 % 29/07/2019 21/10/2019 1,2,3,4
Analytical Assignment 1 15 % 12/08/2019 24/08/2019 1,2,3
Analytical Assignment 2 15 % 17/09/2019 26/09/2019 1,2,3
Essay 30 % 15/10/2019 01/11/2019 1,3,4
Exam 25 % 31/10/2019 28/11/2019 1,2,3,4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


There is a formal exam for this course, as described above as Assessment Task 6. The exam will be scheduled during the end of semester exam period. Further details about the exam are available in the Course Materials Book on the course Wattle site.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 29/07/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Online quizzes

Students are expected to complete a short online quiz each week (beginning from week 2) that relates to the week's reading. Quizzes are to be completed by Monday 3pm each week. See the Course Materials Books on the course Wattle site for more details

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 29/07/2019
Return of Assessment: 21/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Tutorial participation

Students are expected to prepare for and participate in all tutorials. Instructions for tutorial preparation can be found under the relevant week in the Course Materials Book on the course Wattle site. Students choose five tutorials over the course of the semester for which they submit written preparation (about 400 words) ahead of the tutorial class. Written tutorial preparation is due on Wednesday at 1pm in the relevant week.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 12/08/2019
Return of Assessment: 24/08/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Analytical Assignment 1

An analytical assignment (c. 600-800 words), which involves historical linguistic analysis of a set of language data based on methods learnt and practised in classes. See the Course Materials Book on the course Wattle site for more details and assignment instructions.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 17/09/2019
Return of Assessment: 26/09/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Analytical Assignment 2

An analytical assignment (c. 600-800 words), which involves historical linguistic analysis of a set of language data based on methods learnt and practised in classes. See the Course Materials Book on the course Wattle site for more details and assignment instructions.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 15/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 01/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4


A 2,000-word essay on a topic relating to language change and/or linguistic reconstruction. The essay will be completed in two stages, with the initial topic proposal and annotated bibliography worth 5%, and the final essay worth 25%. Further details about the essay, including choice of essay topics and the instructions and deadlines for each stage, are in the Course Materials Book on the course Wattle site.

Assessment Task 6

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 31/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4


The final written exam will be held during the exam period at the end of the semester, and requires responses based on the knowledge and skills covered in classes and other assessment items. Further details about the exam are available in the Course Materials Book on the course Wattle site. The exam will be organised by ANU Examinations Office, and so the exact timing and location for the exam will be announced as part of the end of semester exam timetable. See: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/examination-timetable.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. All assessment for this course, except the exam, are to be submitted electronically. You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of your assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education), submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For this course, only the exam is submitted as a hard copy.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for the online quizzes or submitted tutorial preparation.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

For online quizzes, marks and feedback are provided online after the quiz deadline, and further feedback is provided verbally in the associated class. For submitted tutorial preparation marks are provided through Turnitin, and feedback is provided in the associated class. For all other assessment items marks and feedback are provided through Turnitin, and additional verbal feedback may be given in associated classes.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission of assessment items is not accepted.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Dr Bethwyn Evans

Research Interests

  • historical and comparative linguistics, and how language can be a window on the linguistic and non-linguistic past
  • languages of New Guinea and the Pacific

Dr Bethwyn Evans

Wednesday 15:00 16:00
Dr Bethwyn Evans
02 6125 3207

Research Interests

Dr Bethwyn Evans

Wednesday 15:00 16:00
Maria Kristina Gallego
02 6125 3207

Research Interests

Maria Kristina Gallego

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions