Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Lexicology and the Historical Thesaurus of English ENGLANG5115

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

The Historical Thesaurus of English has been a major research project at the University of Glasgow since 1965. It consists of almost every recorded word in English from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day, all arranged into detailed hierarchies of meaning. This course offers Masters-level students a grounding in the nature of the Thesaurus and participants will practically investigate and critically explore the historical categorisation of English lexis and meaning. It will also give students hands-on experience with modern lexicological and lexicographical work.


2 hour weekly seminars for 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus.


This is one of the MSc options in English Language and Linguistics, and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level (PGT)


Students should normally have previously studied English semantics, either as part of an undergraduate degree or by taking the Level 5 courses Semantics and Pragmatics or Semantics: Advanced Concepts. Students who do not have this background should contact the course convener for some recommended pre-reading.

Excluded Courses





1. Evaluation of Thesaurus section (2000 words or equivalent): 25%

2. Project report (3000 words): 75%

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Provide an advanced knowledge of the Historical Thesaurus of English

■ Facilitate a critical understanding of the methodology of the classification of English lexis by meaning

■ Provide a framework within which students can undertake original research into English semantics, focusing on data from the Thesaurus.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Identify and critically evaluate the primary means of classifying English lexis and meaning;

■ Appraise, formulate, and assess the practical analysis of historical English lexis into a semantic framework, state this assessment concisely, and critically evaluate the alternatives to any existing analysis; and

■ Plan, design and execute a research project into selected Historical Thesaurus data.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.