• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Archaeology, Asian Languages, Pacific Studies, Asian Studies, Linguistics

This course explores the human past – both recent and distant – of the Asia-Pacific region using the tools of language and linguistic analysis. The Asia-Pacific is renowned for its incredible linguistic diversity, and the languages that are spoken, written and signed in the region today hold many traces of past lives. This course introduces the principles and methods of historical linguistics used to reconstruct language histories, which are windows onto the social and cultural lives of past peoples and societies. Such language histories are a starting point for investigating narratives of the Asia-Pacific past using different lines of evidence from across different disciplines. Does evidence from historical linguistics, archaeology, population genetics, history, and anthropology tell similar or different stories about how people lived in the past? This question is explored through case studies from across Asia and the Pacific, such as the social and technological drivers of the expansions of large language families like Austronesian, Sino-Tibetan and Austroasiatic, the social and cultural factors shaping the many small language families present in New Guinea, and the social and political networks underpinning connections across South Asia and Wallacea. The research project allows students to explore in detail a case study of their choice, and so develop advanced skills in critical analysis of primary and secondary sources and in oral and written communication. Linguistic histories are key to understanding the Asia-Pacific past, and the dynamics of language across time and space are essential to understanding the contemporary Asia-Pacific world.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand the contemporary linguistic and social diversity of the Asia-Pacific region through trans-disciplinary models of change over time.
  2. Critically apply and assess theoretical frameworks and current methods of historical linguistics to reconstruct language histories.
  3. Investigate the linguistic and social past through sources and knowledges from different academic and indigenous perspectives.
  4. Construct, and argue for, narratives of the Asia-Pacific past that draw on evidence from a range of disciplines.
  5. Conduct trans-disciplinary research on key challenges in understanding the Asia-Pacific past.
  6. Evaluate approaches to recovering the human past through an interdisciplinary lens.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Online quizzes (5) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Class participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,6]
  3. Assignments - 2 (1,000 words & 800 words) x 15% (30) [LO 1,2,3,6]
  4. Research Project: Research proposal (300 words), Participation in a Roundtable discussion (800 words critique) and Essay (3,000 words) (55) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]

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. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Contact hours for this course are a one-hour seminar and a two-hour tutorial each week. Students are expected to spend an additional 7 hours of independent study on course readings, class preparation and assessment tasks.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

This course is incompatible with ASIA2308 Linguistic Histories in Asia and the Pacific and ASIA2100 Linguistic Histories in Asia and the Pacific (L)

Prescribed Texts

This course has a set of weekly readings which are available from the course Wattle site.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $3960
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $5820
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3693 19 Feb 2024 26 Feb 2024 05 Apr 2024 24 May 2024 In Person View

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