• 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, Asia Pacific Studies More...
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Bethwyn Evans
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings

This course explores the human past – both recent and distant – of the Asia-Pacific region using the tools of language and linguistic analysis, with students working in an Asia-Pacific language which they are studying. 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. 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. 


In this ‘L’ version of?ASIA2308, students engage with readings and complete written assessments in an Asia-Pacific language that they are studying. This course can be counted toward an Asian language major. Enrolment is with permission from the course convenor and depends on each student’s skills in their study language.  

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 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, including in their study language.
  4. Construct narratives of the Asia-Pacific past that draw on evidence from a range of disciplines.
  5. Evaluate approaches to recovering the human past through an interdisciplinary lens.
  6. Communicate in writing about the Asia-Pacific past in a language of the region.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Online quizzes (5) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Class participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  3. 3 Assignments - (Asgmt.1 & 2 equivalent to 800-1,000 words, Asgmt. 3 equivalent to 500 words) x 15% (45) [LO 1,2,3,5,6]
  4. Essay (equivalent to 2,000 words) (40) [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 ASIA6308 Linguistic Histories in Asia and the Pacific.

You will need to contact the School of Culture History and Language to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts

There is no single prescribed text for this course. Readings will be provided from various sources and made available on the course Wattle site.

Preliminary Reading

Readings for this course, from a variety of sources, will be available on the course Wattle site, and include, but are not limited to: 


- Ao, Benjamin. 1991. Comparative reconstruction of Proto-Chinese revisited. Language Sciences 13(3/4):335-379. 

- Ballard, Chris. 2002. A history of Huli society and settlement in the Tari region. In Bryant J Allen (ed.) Health and Environment in the Tari Area. Special Issue Papua New Guinea Medical Journal 45(1-2):8-14. 

- Burenhult, Niclas, Nicole Kruspe and Michael Dunn. 2011. Language history and culture groups among Austroasiatic-speaking foragers of the Malay Peninsula. In N. J. Enfield (ed.) Dynamics of human diversity. The case of mainland Southeast Asia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 257-275. 

- Crowley, Terry and Claire Bowern. 2010. An introduction to historical linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Chapter 5: The Comparative Method:  

Procedures, 78-107.]- Enfield, N. J. 2005. Areal linguistics and mainland Southeast Asia. Annual Review of Anthropology 34:181-206. 

- Pawley, Andrew. 2010. Origins and diversification of the Austronesian languages from Southeast Asia to Remote Oceania. In Christophe Sand and Stuart Bedford (eds) Lapita: Oceanic Ancestors. Paris: Somogy Editions d'Art, 77-89. 

- Thurgood, Graham. 2010. Hainan Cham, Anong and Eastern Cham: three languages, three social contexts, three patterns of change. Journal of Language Contact 3:39-65.

Areas of Interest

  • Archaeology
  • Asian Languages
  • Pacific Studies
  • Asian Studies
  • Asia Pacific Studies
  • Language Studies
  • Linguistics


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
2024 $4080
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $5280
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

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
3691 19 Feb 2024 26 Feb 2024 05 Apr 2024 24 May 2024 In Person View

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