The Department of the Serbo-Croatian Language and Yugoslav Literatures was founded on 29 May 1987 by the University of Niš and commenced its activities on 1 October 1987. The first Head of the newly founded department was professor Borislav Prvulović. The first professors in the department were Nedeljko Bogdanović, Radoslav Radenković, and Slobodan Remetić, whereas the first assistants were Dragan Stanić and Jordana Marković. Due to the changes that happened in the Yugoslav and Serbian socio-political framework, the Department was renamed and became the Department of the Serbian Language and Literature. The heads of this department were professors Borislav Prvulović, Nedeljko Bogdanović, Miroljub Stojanović, Miljko Jovanović, Slobodan Remetić, Slobodan Marjanović, Milentije Đorđević, Milivoje Jovanović, and Dubravka Popović Srdanović. Within the Department there were two department branches – one dedicated to the study of the Serbian language, and the other dedicated to the study of the Serbian literature.
In May 2008, the original department was split into two new departments, so the present Department of the Serbian Language emerged from this split. The first head of this newly established department was professor Jordana Marković, followed by professors Nadežda Jović and Marina Janjić.
In early 2020, the Head of the Department of the Serbian Language is Mirjana Ilić, associate professor. Besides her, the Department includes the following members: Nadežda Jović, full professor, Marina Janjić, full professor, Irena Cvetković Teofilović, associate professor, Branimir Stanković, assistant professor, Aleksandra Lončar Raičević, assistant professor, Tatjana Trajković, assistant professor, Aleksandra Janić, assistant professor, Jelena Stošić, teaching assistant, Ivana Mitić, teaching assistant, Aleksandar Novaković, teaching assistant, and Nina Sudimac, teaching assistant.
Together with the Department of the Serbian and Comparative Literature, the Department of the Serbian Language organised study programmes on all three academic levels – BA, MA, and PhD.
Besides this, the Department members participate in numerous projects financed by the Republic of Serbia, and these include dialectology research within the Serbian speaking territories, as well as the history of the Serbian language and cultural, and the contemporary Serbian language.
The Department regularly publishes the Serbian Language Annual, a journal that can be found on the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development reference list.
The members of the Department give invited lectures and participate in numerous domestic and international scientific conferences, and they went through different forms of linguistics specializations in Serbia and abroad (for instance, in Brussels, Copenhagen, Lyon, Wroclaw, Debrecen, Ljubljana).
When it comes to international cooperation, the Department of the Serbian Language and the Department of the Serbian and Comparative Literature have had a fruitful long-standing collaboration with the Department of Slavic Studies and Bulgarian of the University of Veliko Tarnovo. This collaboration is maintained through regular exchange visits of both professors and students, invited talks, organising joint scientific conferences, publishing joint thematic volumes, etc. The two universities also exchange lectors for Serbian and Bulgarian. The Department also initiated collaboration with the West University of Timișoara, which resulted in signing a cooperation agreement between the two universities, and from that stemmed different forms of cooperation: invited lectures, short and extended teacher and student exchange, participation in scientific conferences, etc. The Serbian lector at the West University of Timișoara graduated from the Department of the Serbian Language. Recently, the Department has also started cooperating with the Slavic Studies Institute of the Humboldt University of Berlin, and this resulted in a staff and student exchange programme.
The members of the Department give Serbian classes within the Centre for Serbian as a foreign and second language at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Niš.