English in the United States (Q1087)

15 credits, Level 5

Spring teaching

This module assesses the linguistic landscape of the United States from the colonial period onward and examines the linguistic and social forces that have brought the US to its current linguistic state.

We consider how a nation of such size and diverse history has managed without an explicit language policy, arriving at a de facto standardised national language.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • What is the native linguistic landscape of North America? (How) have European and native American languages interacted?
  • What was ‘English’ in the colonial period? How did expansion and immigration change the linguistic landscape?
  • What is ‘American’ about ‘American English’? How is it different from other national varieties? Why isn’t it more different from other Englishes?
  • How was language standardisation achieved? Which institutions, individuals and events affected it?
  • Are there particularly ‘American’ forms or uses of linguistic communication?
  • Is American English a threat to other linguistic varieties?


37%: Lecture
27%: Practical (Workshop)
37%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Portfolio)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: