The Department of English, University of Peradeniya, is the direct heir to the English Department of the Ceylon University College which was situated in Colombo during the first half of the 20th century.* The Faculties of Arts and Oriental Studies of the newly created University of Ceylon (1942) ceased to exist in Colombo when they were transferred to Peradeniya in 1952/3. The Department of English in Peradeniya, which was one of the first Departments to be relocated, consequently, is the oldest in the island. E.F.C. Ludowyk, who had joined the staff of University College in 1932 (and was appointed Professor in 1936), was the first Professor of English of the University of Ceylon. He was also the first Dean of Arts in the newly established University in Peradeniya.
The aim of the Department of English is to impart a broad understanding to students of English language and literature as these developed over the centuries, and of the socio-cultural and political factors that determined this development. Special emphasis is placed on tracing the historical development of English, as it spatially expanded from being a regional dialect in the early medieval period to possessing the status of a colonial and imperial language of power and mediation. English as a language producing resistance and counter cultural expressions is also a particular focus of the department. The Department conducts both undergraduate (BA General and Special Degree) and postgraduate (Diploma/ Masters Preliminary/ MA/MPhil/PhD) programmes.