Flexible Programme

Lancaster prides itself on having a flexible approach to undergraduate study, particularly in your first year, and is one of only a handful of universities within the UK that allow students to study additional minor subjects alongside their major subject.

In Linguistics and English Language we offer two Part I (first year) subjects, Part I English Language (LING102) and Part I Linguistics (LING103)

Of the above Part I courses, you must take the one that corresponds to your degree course, known as your 'major subject'. You will then choose two additional subjects (during Intro week) to study alongside this to make up the total of three. For example, an English Language student must take Part I English Language and then select two additional Part I subjects. 

For some degree schemes you must take two part I subjects, for example an English Language and Literature student must take Part I English Language and Part I English Literature, and then choose one additional subject.

Many of our major students choose to take their second Part I subject with us, and this is recommended but by no means compulsory. 

Please note that modules LING218:Literacy and Education and LING209:Language and Pedagogic Practice are offered in alternate years. It is expected that LING218 will be offered in 2019-20 and LING209 in 2020-21.

Part I

  • English Language

    This module will introduce students to the English language – how to describe it, how it varies and how it functions in a variety of contexts. You will not only study the traditional linguistic areas of English (e.g. lexis, grammar, phonetics), but also areas that are often overlooked (e.g. letters, spellings) and areas that have more recently come to the fore, such as pragmatics or conversation analysis.

    You will learn about and apply linguistic frameworks in the analysis and explanation of variation in English, both present-day and, to a lesser extent, historical. In order to study this variation, you will become conversant with crucial descriptive concepts, such as accents, dialects, registers, genres, and styles, as well as possible explanations for variation.

    You will learn about the role of practices and contexts in shaping the English language, for example, how new TV genres have come about; and also about the functions of English, for example, how it can be creatively exploited for the purpose of constructing a joke. Finally, you will learn about the teaching of English, especially as a foreign language.

  • Linguistics

    This module will introduce students to areas and topics across the full breadth of the linguistics discipline. The core areas of phonetics, phonology, morphology and syntax will be covered in some depth, whilst semantics and pragmatics will also be included. In relation to these areas, students will get an appreciation of some of the nature of some of the major theoretical debates, whilst they will also acquire some actual analytical skills, using data not only from English, but crucially also from other languages.

    In addition to these core areas, a number of important sub-fields of linguistics will be dealt with, including Sociolinguistics, the study of language acquisition and learning, historical linguistics, and linguistic typology.

    Finally, a number of applications will be discussed. Indicative topics here are; forensic linguistics, educational linguistics, and language testing.

Part II

  • Developing Academic Practice

    This short module provides support for students transitioning from year one to the more independent work expected in year two and beyond. It gives students the opportunity to reflect on the feedback from their coursework and exams in year one, as a foundation for developing the level of academic writing required in subsequent coursework. It also develops students’ awareness of the resources available from the library and how these may be accessed and used, particularly for independent research in coursework and the dissertation, and offers early alerts to the Careers service and planning for life after university. All majors and joint majors with either Linguistics or English Language must take this module in their second year.

  • Discourse Analysis: Looking at Language in Use

    The module aims to introduce students to the critical analysis of spoken and written discourse in contemporary social contexts. It provides a range of resources and techniques for analysing texts, and enables students to apply them in looking at use of language as one aspect of social processes and change in postmodern society. Methods include functional grammatical analysis of clauses and sentences, analysis of text cohesion and generic structure, conversational and pragmatic analysis of dialogue, and intertextual and interdiscursive analysis. With a focus on spoken data and conversation analysis, we will also address written texts and introduce Critical Discourse Analysis and provide a focus on institutional discourse. The module aims to support you in:

          • developing your capacity for language analysis
          • learning to apply academic knowledge and analysis to real world issues and problems
          • developing a critical stance towards your social environment in its language aspects
          • questioning and challenging social and intellectual authority and knowledge, including what is taught on the module.

  • Literacy and Education

    This module focuses on the role of literacy in relation to education. The module introduces students to different understandings of what literacy is and how it can be taught. We will look at literacy policy in English-speaking countries and how governments seek to convince teachers, parents and the wider public of its preferred method for teaching reading and writing. The importance of literacy in education, as both curriculum aim and curriculum tool, will be discussed in relation to pre-school, primary, secondary, further, higher and adult education. The module will also discuss how digital technologies have changed how people read and write and what role digital technologies play in schools.

    This course is complemented by LING218 Language and Pedagogic Practice. The two modules alternate, so LING209 runs one year and then LING218 runs the following year. Most students therefore have the chance to take both modules, one in their second year and the other in their third year.

  • Stylistics

    The module is concerned with the linguistic analysis of literary texts, and particularly with the relationship between linguistic choices on the one hand and readers’ interpretations on the other. It deals with all three main literary genres: poetry, prose fiction and drama. Topics typically include:

          • Foregrounding in language: deviation
          • Foregrounding in language: parallelism
          • Figurative language and thought
          • Metaphor, metonymy and pain in verbal and visual art
          • Narrative and point of view
          • Fictional minds 1: point of view and mind style
          • Speech and thought presentation
          • Fictional conversations and characterisation
          • Fictional minds 2: conversation and autistic characters
          • Demonstration stylistic analysis: flash fiction

  • The Language of Advertising

    We all know when an ad has caught our attention, and whether it works for us or not, but what precisely is responsible for these effects? In this module, we will learn how to take ads apart using tools taken from linguistics, rhetoric, and semiotics. We will explore how ad writers make use of the different levels of language: for instance, how they exploit sounds and spellings; how they toy with word meanings and word associations; how they manipulate, and sometimes break, the rules of standard grammar. We will also explore how ads interact with other texts and consider the relationship between words and pictures. As well as analysing ads themselves, we will also learn how to test out our intuitions about them, by investigating how the words, structures and visuals used in the ads are employed in other kinds of texts.

  • Corporate communication

    While this module is intended for students of both English Language and Business, the focus is on language and its use by and in companies, focusing on key areas such as intercultural, gendered and leadership communication. This will be complemented by input on methods and genre, with a view to enabling you to apply the knowledge in your own assessed work.

    The module aims to help you develop the skills to be :

          • aware of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning
          • able to apply knowledge of corporate communication, including genres and audiences, to the analysis and critical examination of authentic data
          • able to apply your knowledge of corporate communication to produce your own spoken and written texts in that area
          • able to evaluate the merits of linguistic and management theories for the study of corporate communication
          • able to apply your knowledge of corporate communication to produce your own texts in that area.

  • Language in the Workplace: Topics in Professional Communication

    This module introduces some key areas in which language study and social science studies of interaction can help us understand practices in a range of workplaces. It is intended to complement the module Corporate Communication (although this is not a prerequisite for this module). The topics in this module will be applicable to institutions such as social services, non-governmental organisations, technical services, and schools, and be relevant to a wide range of communication-centred jobs including human resources, technical writing, public relations, training, and management.

  • Language and Pedagogic Practice

    This module provides an opportunity for students to explore language, learning and teaching. A particular focus is on classroom language, including whole class, paired and group work situations. This includes consideration of the role of technologies. We will look at a wide span of educational contexts, as we examine language and learning from the early years of schooling to looking at talk in tertiary education. We will see that language varies greatly in character and purpose according to who is involved and for what purpose. We will compare the language and learning opportunities that arise in whole class situations with pair and group work. What do students gain when they work collaboratively to help one another? What kind of teacher questions and responses promote greater learning opportunities? Do some kinds of interaction limit the potential for learning?

    Using data from actual primary, secondary and/or post-secondary classrooms, students will develop their ability to analyse classroom language to explore how language fosters and/or sometimes hinders learning. This course will be of particular interest to those students who are curious about language and education, or who are considering working in educational contexts.

    This course is complemented by LING209 Literacy and Education. The two modules alternate, so LING209 runs one year and then LING218 runs the following year. Most students therefore have the chance to take both modules, one in their second year and the other in their third year.

  • Structures of the World's Languages

    This module will cover central concepts around word order, case marking, agreement, alignment, animacy, definiteness and valency changes and teach you to analyse new data from the world’s languages in terms of these topics. You will learn to critically evaluate the extent to which the structures of the world’s languages are shaped by cognition and communication. You will also learn how linguists provide explanations for why languages are structured the way they are, given the functions they serve. It is expected that you will acquire a better understanding of the structure of English as a result of seeing how English differs from other languages.

  • Sounds of the World's Languages

    In this module you will learn to produce, describe, and transcribe all the sounds in the World's languages. We will describe the physiology of how different sounds are produced and will look at the acoustic characteristics of particular sounds. You will practise transcribing all sounds within the International Phonetic Alphabet, and will learn examples of where sounds are used. For example, we spend time looking at the occurrence of click sounds in South African languages and at how pitch variation is used in tone languages. Seminars will cover the practical aspects to sound production, and we will also spend some time learning how to use computers for speech analysis.

  • English Grammar

    The module will cover important aspects of English grammar, stressing the sense in which grammar (in English and in general) is not an abstract system of arbitrary rules but is motivated by meaning and shaped by usage. We will apply this so-called functionalist perspective not only to present-day English but also to the way in which certain grammatical constructions have developed over time. Topics typically include:

          • The purpose of (studying) grammar
          • Simple sentences
          • Word classes
          • Grammatical functions
          • Sentence structures and functions
          • Types and structure of phrases
          • Complex sentences
          • The passive: form(s) and function(s)
          • The grammar of spoken English

  • English Phonetics

    This module will provide students with an introduction to the phonetics of English. The first part of the module will cover the initiation, articulation and transcription of speech. We will learn about vocal anatomy and physiology, including the oral cavity, the larynx, and the extrinsic and intrinsic muscles of the tongue. We will also address how sounds are produced, and how to transcribe phonetic variation using the International Phonetic Alphabet. The second half of the module will cover acoustic phonetics and the ways in which we can represent and analyse sounds using computers. Students will learn how to describe the acoustic properties of speech and acquire competence in carrying out particular forms of acoustic analysis. Throughout the module, we will apply some of the above concepts to understanding phonetic variation in English, including various kinds of social and geographical variation.

  • Child Language Acquisition

    This module examines explanations of how we acquire our first language. We bring psycholinguistics and theoretical linguistics together to describe and explain the processes a child goes through in learning their first language. We also look at some more advanced issues such as bilingualism, language impairments, and language development in deaf children. The module is an introduction to language acquisition studies, psycholinguistics and theories of mind and language – looking particularly at the wide spectrum of different explanations for language acquisition.

  • Language Origins and Evolution

    This module examines explanations of how language evolved in humans. We explore the evolution of the human language capacity drawing on evidence from linguistics, evolutionary theory, primatology and (paleo)anthropology. We consider language as a cognitive adaptation and ask what it is an adaptation for, e.g. instruction in tool making, as a form of social bonding, or as a means of winning a potential mate. We consider the phylogenetic development of language within the species as well as what cognitive and communicative abilities in non-human primates might reveal about the origins and functions of human language.

  • Understanding Media

    The module provides approaches to analysing media discourses and practices, through introductory readings and detailed case studies. We will critically examine a variety of methods to investigate 'old' and 'new' media, engaging with a diversity of modes and technologies.

    There will be an emphasis on language and the internet including Wikipedia, websites, blogging, Twitter and Mumsnet. We also investigate news discourse, the history of broadcasting technology and the Edwardian postcard. Activities in lectures, seminars, and assessments will centre on analysing media texts and practices around them.

  • Placement module

    The Placement Module provides students with an opportunity to undertake a short period of work experience with an employer in the north-west. All second-year students are eligible to apply for an accredited placement that counts towards your degree but the number of students we can accept on this module is limited. If accepted, you will spend 4-5 days working for an organisation which employs graduates in English Language and Linguistics. The Department is usually able to provide travel costs associated with placements in the north-west. Placements are sourced by the Faculty Careers team and include positions in areas such as Publishing, Marketing, Social media and Advertising. Workshops will prepare you for your chosen placement and training will be provided. This module aims to give you a flavour for what it might be like to work in your chosen industry, as well as developing graduate skills such as teamwork, taking direction from managers, confidence and independent working. The course is assessed via a reflective project about your work place experience and learning.

  • Introduction to Computational Linguistics

    This module introduces students to a range of technologies that require specialist treatment of linguistic data to function. Students will engage with technologies that require text databases (such as text categorisation technologies), as well as technologies that make use of the human speech signal (such as speech recognition and speaker recognition technologies). Students will not only learn about how these systems work, but they will also start to develop the coding skills required to build them. The module will be assessed by two reports that evaluate the performance of language technologies under different data conditions, reflecting the kind of development tasks undertaken in the technology industry.

  • Independent Study

    The purpose of this module is to allow students to pursue interests which are not represented in, or central to, named modules, subject to the availability of qualified staff. Students will engage in a programme of supervised reading and produce an extended piece of coursework.

  • Independent Study

    The purpose of these courses is to allow students to pursue interests which are not represented in, or central to, established courses, subject to the availability of qualified staff. Students will engage in a programme of supervised reading and produce an extended piece of coursework (the length will depend on which course is being taken).

  • Dissertation

    We will start with taught sessions covering the planning and designing of research in Linguistics and English language. We will cover topics including identifying and accessing relevant literature; formulating answerable research questions; working with data; and ethics and responsibilities in research. This is assessed through a short dissertation proposal. You will then carry out the research project planned in your proposal, working independently but with guidance from a supervisor. This culminates in the second assessment which is your written dissertation.

  • Language and Identities: Gender, ethnicity and class

    This module is about sociolinguistics, and in particular about how language relates to identities at different levels – for example, how individuals use language to signal their membership of particular social groups, and how different kinds of social groupings – for example peer groups, communities and nations – identify themselves through language.

    The module will focus on three important areas of variation in language within society: gender, ethnicity and class, and will discuss the key research in each of these. Both theoretical and applied aspects of topics will be covered. The notion of ‘Identity’ provides the module with a unifying theme.

    This module aims to broaden and deepen your capacity for language analysis applied to real social issues and problems and to encourage you to evaluate research critically and undertake your own data collection and analysis.

  • Language Change in English and Beyond

    This module introduces students to the study of language change. It aims to show how language change can be investigated and explained, particularly in the light of the most recent developments in (functionally oriented) historical linguistics. English is the primary focus of the module but examples from other languages will be used as well. All levels of language will be covered, from phonetics and phonology, via changes in the lexicon and word meaning to grammar and pragmatics. The module is not only theoretical (how can linguistic theory account for the changes we can observed?), but also has a strong practical component, especially in the seminars, where students will get the opportunity to apply the theories and concepts that were introduced in the lectures to actual data, prominently including data related to ongoing change.

  • Forensic Linguistics

    The module will cover the two main sub-areas of the field, i.e. forensic phonetics and forensic linguistics more generally. Following a general introduction on the nature and history of forensic linguistics, lectures will focus on the two main questions forensic linguists concern themselves with: what does a text say, and who is (are) its author(s)? The issues of trademarks and lie detection do not fit into either of these, but will be covered as well. All aspects of the field will be illustrated with reference to specific (court) cases, which will also help shed light on the evolving status of forensic linguistic evidence in courts of law.

  • Psycholinguistics

    Psycholinguistics is the study of the psychology of language, which is one of the abilities that makes humans unique. It can cover topics in social psychology, developmental psychology, cognitive psychology and neuropsychology. The exact topics we cover vary each year depending on who is teaching on the module, but we aim to balance these areas and include topics on how children learn language and to read, how language is used in social interaction, how adults process sounds, words and sentences, and what happens when children fail to learn language normally or when adults suffer from brain damage.

  • Schools Volunteering Module

    This module will provide students with an opportunity to work as classroom volunteers in primary or secondary schools over the course of one term.

  • Cognitive Linguistics

    The module seeks to provide a closer look at selected aspects of language structure and how they are analysed within various theoretical frameworks. It aims to develop a critical awareness of theoretical constructs and the extent to which they influence not only analyses but also the choice of data to be analysed. Students will also be taught to evaluate the appropriateness of specific analyses for individual languages or facets of language. By the end of the module, you should have a good knowledge of the basic principles, notions and structures of Cognitive Linguistics, particularly of Cognitive Grammar.

    In addition, you should develop:

          • the competence to analyse linguistic (corpus) data in terms of these theoretical constructs;
          • an appreciation of the sense in which Cognitive Linguistics is grounded in cognitive psychology, and how this is different from formalist frameworks such as Generative Grammar and its derivatives.

  • Topics in Phonetic and Phonological Theory

    This module investigates some of the theoretical aspects to speech production and sound structure across the World's languages. We will spend time discussing and evaluating different frameworks for modelling phonetics and phonology, for example generative and usage-based approaches. Then, we will examine some case-study areas which challenge existing theories, for example intonational phonology and the study of historical sound change. This module aims to contribute to questions such as 'How are groups of sounds structured so that we can understand language?' or 'How are sounds stored and processed in the mind?'

  • Corpus-based English Language Studies

    This module focuses on the contemporary field of English Language Studies. In particular, it will look at corpus linguistics - a research specialism at Lancaster University - and its application to areas such as the description of English grammar.

    The module's programme of lectures will begin with a detailed introduction to the method before moving on, later in the term, to discuss the applications and implications of the method. Meanwhile, lab-based seminars will allow students to acquire and exercise practical skills with the computational tools (such as concordance software) required by the area of study.

  • Advanced English Phonetics

    This module investigates a range of theoretical and practical issues in the phonetics of English, with a focus on the perception of speech. This means that we will be investigating questions such as: Is perceiving speech different from perceiving music or other sounds? How does our knowledge of language influence what we hear? How do people evaluate different voices and accents? In doing so, we will engage in discussion of key theoretical issues, as well as practical computer-based work, such as designing experiments to test aspects of speech perception.

  • Language, Culture and Thought

    The module combines classic philosophical approaches with recent state-of-the-art experimental evidence to address a central topic in modern cognitive science: Does the language we speak affect the way we think? And as a result, do speakers with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds think differently? These questions form the core of the so-called linguistic relativity hypothesis, which will be the focus of this module. The module begins by laying down the foundation of the cognitive mechanisms underpinning the interaction between language and thought, such as working memory, semantic memory, and the structure and nature of meaning representations in the brain. The module then examines in detail the different ways in which language may affect thinking and give rise to cross-cultural and cross-linguistic differences between different populations, different individuals, and during first and second language development. Throughout, emphasis will be given to the different experimental methods used and the kinds of evidence that can inform our understanding of the linguistic relativity hypothesis.