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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL32941 ‘Global English’: Colonialism, Postcolonialism, and Decolonisation

20 creditsClass Size: 22

School of English

Module manager: Dr. Kate Spowage

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

From humble beginnings in the northwest fringe of Europe, the English language today holds official status in over 65 countries (representing every continent), and is the most widely spoken language on Earth. The vast expansion of the British Empire was an undeniable catalyst for the spread of the language, and in this module students will explore ‘global English’ from the perspective of colonialism and its legacies. They will engage with important historical and political issues both in the diffusion of English via colonial rule and the (often contested) role played by English in post-colonial societies and the modern world. Engaging with both scholarly and literary texts, students will unpick the complex relations between English and domination, prosperity, education, society, and decolonisation. The issues addressed in this module will challenge students to think critically about the spread of English and its implications for populations around the globe.


The aim of the module is to foster an informed and critical approach to the study of English in global contexts. It will allow students to explore ‘global English’ from a range of perspectives, drawing on key readings in Applied Linguistics alongside literary texts.

The central objectives are:
To introduce students to debates around ‘global English’, using specific contextual examples.
To encourage students to consider the relationship between ‘global English’ and the legacies of colonialism.
To explore the relevance of decolonial thought to debates around ‘global English’.
To equip students with an understanding of the issues around English in post-colonial societies.
To challenge students to develop a nuanced and critical understanding of ‘global English’.

Learning outcomes
1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of English in the colonial and post-colonial world
2. Synthesise and/or contrast different perspectives on ‘global English’, past and present
3. Critically engage with debates around ‘global English’
4. Identify and analyse language ideologies
5. Distinguish between political and other forms of decolonisation (such as cultural, social, intellectual)
6. Discuss the relationship between decolonial thought and the English language.

Skills outcomes
Experience in the study of language ideologies.
Knowledge and understanding of different views on the worldwide spread of English, and the ability to negotiate them.
The ability to situate linguistic issues within wider debates and social, political, or historical contexts.


The following is indicative of thinkers (including authors) studied on the module: Chinua Achebe, James Baldwin, Rey Chow, Franz Fanon, Braj B. Kachru, Sinfree Makoni, V. Y. Mudimbe, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Alastair Pennycook, Wole Soyinka. Students will be introduced to scholars and literary artists from around the world, whose work pertains to English.

We will cover different historical contexts, which may include: exploitation colonies; settler colonies; multilingual post-colonial states; and modern global capitalism. Indicative topics that will be considered include: colonial linguistics; post-colonial language policy; language and neoliberalism; decolonial theory; and decolonial approaches to language policy.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment12.002.00
Private study hours185.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study: independent reading and research (125hrs); preparing for seminars (15hrs); contributing to class wiki (5hrs); preparing assignments (40 hrs).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be expected to complete work ahead of each seminar, and they will receive formative feedback, including peer feedback, throughout the seminars.
Opportunities will also be made available for peer feedback via such digital technologies as Padlet and Mentimeter.
Further feedback will be available through office hour appointments.
The module will also include short (20 minute or less) videos, produced by the module leader weekly, which will provide cohort-wide formative feedback.
Progress will be monitored through a mid-module student conference, in which each student is required to give a research-based presentation (maximum 10 minutes). They will receive formative feedback on the verbal element and their slides, and the assessment will allow them to practice necessary analytical skills for the final essay.
Progress will also be monitored through a final essay (2,250 words).

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2500 words60.00
Presentation1 x 10-minute40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 10:18:04


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