• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Linguistics
  • Areas of interest Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Linguistics
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Bethwyn Evans
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2025
    See Future Offerings

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:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of how and why languages change over time
  2. Critically apply current methods and theoretical frameworks of historical linguistics to reconstruct unattested ancestor languages
  3. Interpret and reflect critically on research on principles of historical linguistics and histories of particular families of languages
  4. Critically assess key debates in historical linguistics through the lens of particular language families
  5. Construct theoretical arguments relating to language over time using the analysis of language data
  6. Demonstrate skills in written and oral communication, both individually and in groups

Indicative Assessment

  1. Participation: in-class activities (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Participation: Online Quizzes (5) [LO 1,2,3]
  3. Analytical Assignment (data analysis) (20) [LO 1,2,3,5]
  4. Critique of debate (1,000 words) (15) [LO 1,3,4,6]
  5. Research Project: proposal (300 words) (5) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  6. Research Project: oral presentation (10 minutes) (15) [LO 1,3,4,5]
  7. Research Project: essay (3,000 words) (30) [LO 1,3,4,5,6]

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.


This course requires a total of 130 hours commitment, which includes:

  • 36 hours of synchronous classes
  • 94 hours of independent study, including readings and class preparation, as well as work on assessment items.

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed LING2005. Alternatively you may gain permission of the Course Convener to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts

The course textbook is:

Millar, Robert McColl. 2023. Trask's historical linguistics. 4th edition. London: Routledge.

Additional readings include journal articles and book chapters and details of these will be provided on the course Wattle site.

Assumed Knowledge

Basic knowledge of linguistics, as well as basic skills of research and writing, as taught in in the Bachelor of Asian Studies Foundations courses, the Bachelor of Pacific Studies introductory courses, or their equivalents in other Colleges


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
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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8687 21 Jul 2025 28 Jul 2025 31 Aug 2025 24 Oct 2025 In Person N/A

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