Linguistics and English Language

The following modules are available to incoming Study Abroad students interested in Linguistics and English Language.

Alternatively you may return to the complete list of Study Abroad Subject Areas.

LING102: English Language

  • Terms Taught: Full Year Course
  • Also Available: This module is available in Michaelmas term only.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year - 10 Semester Credits.
    • Michaelmas Only - 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year - 20 ECTS
    • Michaelmas Only - 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: None

Course Description

This course will introduce you to the English language (how to describe it, how it varies and how it functions in a variety of contexts). Students 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 those of pragmatics or conversation analysis. Students will learn and apply linguistic frameworks in the analysis and explanation of variation in English, both present-day and, to a lesser extent, historical.

Students will gain some appreciation of the aspects that are distinctive of English compared with other closely related languages (e.g. German, French and Italian). In order to study this variation, students will become conversant with crucial descriptive concepts, such as accents, dialects, registers, genres, and styles, as well as possible explanations for variation.

Students 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, students will learn about the teaching of English, especially as a foreign language.

The course is arranged in a series of blocks including: visual English, English vocabulary, English structures, English sounds, conversational English, English dialects, media English, creative English, changing English, and teaching English. Throughout, students will be encouraged to critically assess 'facts' about English, and will be introduced to a range of methods by which evidence about English can be derived.

Educational Aims

This course will enable students to:

  • Engage in critical thinking
  • Undertake systematic analysis
  • Have a grasp of a range of methodologies and understand the implications of the interpretation of evidence
  • Find, read and deploy scholarly publications appropriately
  • Write academic essays
  • Discuss their ideas in peer groups

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Analyse and explain variation in present-day English (e.g. accents, dislects, registers, genres, styles), focusing on more traditional areas of language (e.g. lexis, grammar) and areas that have only recently been explored (e.g. conversational acts, discourse)
  • Analyse and explain the role of practices and contexts in shaping the English Language
  • Analyse and explain how English has varied over time
  • Appreciate aspects that are distinctive of English compared with other closely related languages (e.g. German, French, Italian)
  • Describe and understand the various functions of English
  • Understand the issues involved in teaching English
  • Critically assess ‘facts’ about English
  • Apply basic linguistic descriptive frameworks
  • Appreciate different ways of studying the English language
  • Entertain different points of view on certain issues, and weigh their various merits and shortcomings objectively
  • Construct arguments in an essay
  • Assemble evidence to support their arguments
  • Carry out research in the library
  • Refer to other studies correctly and construct a proper bibliography

Outline Syllabus

The syllabus is indicative and liable to change.

  • Visual English: Letters and punctuation, spelling in society and its development, multimodality
  • English vocabulary: The word, the lexicon and its development
  • English structures: Grammar and grammatical inflections, nouns and noun phrases, verbs and verb phrases, the structure of sentences, grammar and its development
  • English sounds: The sounds, the sound system, sounds of English, sounds and their development
  • Conversational English: Conversational routines and politeness, the systemics of conversation
  • English dialects: Dialect and speech community, regional British accents and dialects, class, accent and dialect in Britain, dialectal change and the rise of "standard" English, multilingual Britain, International Englishes, restructured Englishes
  • Media English: Genre, genres and their development in English, political speeches and other oratorical genres, newspapers and other print media, new TV genres, advertising, new internet genres,
  • Creative English: Creativity, style and stylistics, poetry, pop song lyrics, narrative and the novel, oral narratives, conversation in plays and film, "everyday" conversation
  • Changing English: The origins of English, the phases of development, recent change
  • Teaching English: Theory and practice, TEFL, TESOL
  • Investigating English: The corpus-based approach, transcribing sounds and conversation, Dialect surveys in Britain, text and practices, Stylistic analysis, computers and corpora

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay(s): 40%
  • Exam: 40%
  • Presentation (Assessed): 10%
  • Test: 10%

LING103: Linguistics

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course or Michaelmas Term only
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year - 10 Semester Credits
    • Michaelmas Only - 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year - 20 ECTS
    • Michaelmas Only - 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: None

Course Description

This course 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 are also included. In relation to these areas, students get an appreciation of some of the major theoretical debates, whilst they will also acquire 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 of linguistics will be discussed. Indicative topics here are: forensic linguistics, educational linguistics, and language testing

Educational Aims

Students will learn to:

  • Engage in critical thinking
  • Undertake systematic analysis
  • Have a grasp of a range of methodologies and understand the implications for the interpretation of evidence
  • Find, read and deploy scholarly publications appropriately
  • Write academic essays
  • Discuss their ideas in peer groups

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Carry out basic phonetic, phonological, and grammatical analysis of English and other languages
  • Appreciate broad structural differences between languages
  • Carry out basic semantic and pragmatic analyses of words and larger utterances
  • Differentiate between the main theoretical approaches to language acquisition/learning and the origins of language
  • Appreciate the extent to which language varies across time and across space, and discuss some of the main methods used in these areas
  • Understand and explain some of the main developments in the history of the field of linguistics
  • Appreciate and engage in basic discussions about some of the real world applications of linguistics
  • Entertain different points of view on certain issues, and weigh their various merits and shortcomings objectively
  • Construct arguments in an essay
  • Carry out research in the library
  • Refer to other studies correctly and construct a proper bibliography

Outline Syllabus

The module will consist of 7 blocks of 3-5 weeks each, amounting to 25 weeks in total. The basic areas of linguistics covered by each block are as follows:

  • Language origins, acquisition, disorders, and death
  • Grammar
  • Multilingualism and language contact
  • Language variation and language change
  • Phonetics and phonology
  • Linguistic meaning and language use
  • History and applications of linguistics

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay(s): 30%
  • Exam: 40%
  • Test: 30%

LING204: Discourse Analysis: Looking at Language in Use

  • Terms Taught: Full Year Course or Michaelmas Term only
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year - 8 Semester Credits.
    • Michaelmas Only - 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year - 16 ECTS Credits.
    • Michaelmas Only - 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

The course 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. 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. While Term 1 will focus on spoken data and meaning in the context of speech events, Term 2 will address written texts and focus on institutional discourse in politics, education and healthcare. If you follow this course you will:

  • Develop your capacity for language analysis;
  • Learn to apply academic knowledge and analysis to real world issues and problems;
  • Develop a critical stance towards your social environment in its language aspects;
  • Question and challenge social and intellectual authority and knowledge, including what is taught on the course.

Educational Aims

At the end of the course, you will:

  • Be familiar with classical and contemporary approaches to analysing text and discourse;
  • Know about, and be able to apply, a range of methods to describe and interpret texts;
  • Have an understanding about the links between text, interaction and social context.

Outline Syllabus

Topics will include:

Term 1

  • Introduction
  • Speech events
  • Encounters and frames
  • Conversation analysis
  • Politeness and impoliteness
  • Cooperation and implicature
  • Computer-mediated discourse analysis

Term 2

  • Genres and discourses
  • Intertextuality and interdiscursivity
  • Transitivity I: social actors
  • Transitivity II: process types
  • Modality
  • Multimodality
  • Institutional discourse I: health communication
  • Institutional discourse II: education
  • Institutional discourse III: politics

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 60%
  • Coursework: 40%

LING210: Stylistics

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term only
  • US Credits: 4 semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

The course 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.

Educational Aims

The module aims to provide students with:

  • An understanding of concepts and methods relevant to stylistic analysis
  • The ability to undertake detailed and systematic analyses of literary texts
  • The ability to relate linguistic analysis to interpretation.
  • The ability to understand and critique scholarly literature;
  • The ability to conduct rigourous analyses independently;
  • The ability to present their analyses clearly and effectively both orally and in writing;
  • The ability to engage in discussion and debate of their own and others’ ideas, and develop team working skills.

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Competently discuss concepts and methods relevant to stylistic analysis;
  • Describe accurately and systematically distinctive linguistic choices and ptterns in literary texts;
  • Explain the relationship between distinctive linguistic choices and patterns in texts on the one hand and reader’s interpretations on the other;
  • Understand and critique scholarly literature;
  • Conduct rigorous analyses independently;
  • Present their analyses clearly and effectively both orally and in writing;
  • Engage in discussion and debate of their own and others’ ideas, and develop communication and team working skills.

Outline Syllabus

The following topics will typically be included:

  • 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

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay(s): 30%
  • Exam: 60%
  • Presentation (Assessed): 10%

LING211: The Language of Advertising

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language or Marketing.

Course Description

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 course, 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 test out our intuitions about them, by seeing how the words, structures and visuals used in the ads are employed in other kinds of texts.

Educational Aims

By the end of the course, students should:

  • Know the main terms and concepts from linguistics, rhetoric, and semiotics which are relevant for the analysis of advertisements;
  • Be able to identify the above phenomena in advertisements;
  • Be able to conceptualise their intuitions about advertisement texts;
  • Be able to carry out a full critical analysis of an advertisement by applying and integrating the above skills.

Outline Syllabus

Topics may vary slightly from year to year, but will commonly include:

  • Introduction and History
  • Getting Attention: Sounds, Letters, and Scripts
  • Brand and Product Names
  • Word Choice and Associations
  • Multimodal Ads: Words and Pictures
  • Processing Ads: Indirectness, Sentence Types, and Grammar
  • Intertextuality and Interdiscursivity
  • Stereotypes, Voices, and Varieties

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Presentation: 25%
  • Project: 45%

LING214: Corporate communication

  • Terms Taught: Lent / Summer Terms only
  • US Credits: 4 semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

While this course is intended for students of both English Language and Business, the focus is on language and its use by and in companies. However, you need no previous knowledge of either linguistics or business to take this course. We will focus on corporate, management and employee perspectives, introducing various concepts from language and business studies and illustrating them with examples and case studies. The seminars will include quizzes, group work, reflection and role play, as well as reading activities to deepen your understanding of the lecture content.

Educational Aims

The module aims to enable students to:

  • Gain knowledge and understanding of the communication aspects involved in dealing with an organisation’s internal and external stakeholders;
  • Be familiar with the main areas of research in corporate communication;
  • Relate the study of organisations and management to language;
  • Apply different methods of language study to corporate environments.
  • Understand the dynamics of communication in changing enviroments;
  • Assess the merits of contrasting theories and explainations, including those of other disciplines;
  • Critically judge and evaluate evidence, especially in relation to language use in academic domains;
  • Understand the senstive nature of diversity in social settings.

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Understand a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives on corporate communication from different disciplines;
  • Understand generic conventions and the shaping effects upon communication of circumstances, authorship, textual production and intended audience;
  • Be aware of how different social and cultural conexts affect the nature of language and meaning;
  • Apply knowledge of corporate communication, including genres and audiences, to the analysis and critical examination of Natural data;
  • Evaluate the merits of linguistic and management theories for the study of corporate communication;
  • Create a portfolio of written texts instantiating genres in corporate communication;
  • Read and analyse complex and sophiscated texts
  • Draft and redraft texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style;
  • Use enhanced communication skills, including effective listening, negotiating and persuading and presenting.

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • Corporate perspectives: branding; talking to customers; crisis communication
  • Management perspectives: leadership; change management; diversity and inclusion
  • Employee perspectives: language of recruitment; interviews at work; constructing employees

Language and business aspects in relation to the above topics include:

  • Brand personalities, narrative
  • Communicative competence, politeness
  • Crisis communication strategies, corporate apologies
  • Leadership styles, rhetoric
  • Metaphor, channels of communication
  • Representing social actors, impression management
  • Framing and impression management
  • Cooperation and implicature, gatekeeping
  • Communities of practice, mission statements

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay(s) 30%
  • Exam: 20%
  • Presentation: 30%
  • Reflective Report: 20%

LING218: Language and Pedagogic Practice

  • Terms Taught: Lent / Summer Terms only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

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, which runs alternate years. Note that you must have taken LING209 and/or LING218 if you wish to enrol on the LING319 Schools Volunteering Module in your final year.

Educational Aims

This module aims to:

  • Explore key approaches to the understanding of language in learning and teaching, especially but not limited to classroom settings;
  • Develop students' understanding of key concepts relating to the use of language as applied to education
  • Enhance students' understanding of research in the field of language in learning and teaching and develop their ability to undertake small-scale analytical work in this area;
  • Teach students to analyse oral language in education in connection with other relevant features, including the organisation of the institutional setting and technologies involved;
  • Enable students to recognise some of the language-related challenges of teaching different subject areas, and to diverse populations, in schools, higher education and in the wider community;
  • Develop students' ability to identify and critically engage with relevant research;
  • Extend students' awareness of the use of library ad related information resources;
  • Develop students' abilities to communicate with others effectively online;
  • Enhance students' skills in producing effective written and oral communications

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to;

  • Demonstrate understandings of some key approaches to the understanding of language in learning and teaching, especially but not limited to, classroom settings.
  • Analyse oral language in education in connection with other relevant features, including the organisation of the institutional setting and technologies involved.
  • Develop the ability to use and discuss relevant conceptual and analytical categories, both orally and in writing;
  • Recognise some of the language-related challenges of teaching different subject areas, and to diverse populations, in schools, higher education and in the wider community;
  • Locate and evaluate research relevant to specific issues;
  • Display the ability to construct coherent analyses, relating theoretical concepts to the real-word issues;
  • Communicate effectively in oral and written modes

Outline Syllabus

Topics will include:

  • What do we mean by learning?
  • Connections between language and learning
  • Introduction to the study of classroom talk
  • Classroom talk around the interactive whiteboard
  • Dialogic teaching
  • Language, learning and the early years: international perspectives
  • Language for academic purposes
  • Analysing learning interactions
  • Informal learning and language

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay (70%)
  • Oral presentation – individual, delivered online via the module VLE (30%)

LING220: Structures of the World's Languages

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term only
  • US Credits: 4 semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

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.

Educational Aims

Students should acquire or develop:

  • An understanding of the central concepts of modern linguistic theory in general and their application to the description of the structures of the world's languages;
  • An understanding of the extent to which the structure of language reflects the way it is used in acts of communication;
  • An understanding of explanations for the syntactic organisation found in the world's languages;
  • The ability to analyse language data from languages other than English;
  • The ability to argue for and against rival theories of language structure.
  • Independent critical thought and the ability to assimilate fast large amounts of unfamiliar materials and critically reflect on them;
  • General analytical competence (e.g. pattern matching skills);
  • Effective research skills including the ability to use library and IT resources in preparation of written work;
  • Communication skills: the ability to communicate ideas well to others and participate in group discussions as well as ability to write clearly and argue effectively.

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Explain central concepts around word order, case making, agreement, alignment, animacy, definiteness and valency changes;
  • Analyse new data from the world’s languages in terms of the aformentioned topics;
  • Critically evaluate the extent to which the structures of the world’s language is shaped by cognition and communication;
  • Assimilate large amounts of unfamiliar data fast and reflect on them critically;
  • Use effective research skills, including the use of the library and IT resources, in preparation of written work;
  • Communicate ideas well to others and participate in group discussions;
  • Write clearly and argue efectively

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • Functional syntax and the languages of the world
  • Grammatical relations: word order
  • Grammatical relations: case marking
  • Grammatical relations: agreement marking
  • Grammatical relations: alignment
  • Animacy & definiteness
  • Changing grammatical relations: decreasing and increasing valency
  • Typological research in general

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay: 20%
  • Exam: 60%
  • Coursework: 20%

LING221: Sounds of the World's Languages

  • Terms Taught: Lent / Summer Terms only
  • US Credits: 4 semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

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.

Educational Aims

Students should acquire or develop:

  • Knowledge of the variety of sounds used in languages across the World;
  • A good understanding of the International Phonetic Alphabet;
  • The ability to produce and transcribe all sounds used in language;
  • The ability to describe the physiological mechanisms used in speech production;
  • Independent critical thought and the ability to assimilate fast large amounts of unfamiliar materials and critically reflect on them;
  • General analytical competence;
  • Effective research skills including the ability to use library and IT resources in the preparation of written work;
  • Communication skills: the ability to communicate ideas well to others and participate in group discussions as well as the ability to write clearly and argue effectively.

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Use the International Phonetic Alphabet;
  • Produce the different sounds used in languages across the world;
  • Describe phonetic and phonological cross-linguistic differences;
  • Synthesise complex material;
  • Think independently and discuss reasoning;
  • Collaborate on group projects;
  • Present findings as a group;
  • Write effectively and discuss reasoning critically.

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • Phonetics and phonology
  • Vowels in the world’s languages
  • Consonants in the world’s languages
  • Tone and intonation
  • Rhythm, stress, and voice quality
  • Phonemes and segments
  • Syllables and phonotactics
  • Historical phonology
  • The phonetics-phonology interface
  • Acoustic phonetics

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay: 30%
  • Exam: 60%
  • Presentation: 10%

LING222: English Grammar

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term only
  • US Credits: 4 semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

The course 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.

Educational Aims

Students will:

  • Be able to analyse the nature and structure of English words, phrases and sentences;
  • Have an understanding of the sense in which grammar is not a purely abstract phenomenon but is, instead, based to a large extent on the way in which we construe the world (our cognitive system) and interact with other speakers;
  • Have some understanding of aspects of the history of English and the way these relate to present-day English
  • Be aware of the main differences between the grammar of spoken vs. written English
  • Improve their oral presentation, team working and general analytical skills;
  • Have a better understanding of the nature and importance of empirical evidence in argumentation.

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Analyse English words, phrases and sentences in terms of basic grammatical notions pertaining to morphology, syntax and semantics;
  • Explain to some extent how aspects of grammar are based on our conceptualisation of the world and on the way in which speakers interact;
  • Explain some of the connections between historical varieties of English and present-day English;
  • Discuss some of the differences between the grammar of speech and writing in the English;
  • Find, analyse and synthesise information at a level that is appropriate to this stage of their studies and present it orally;
  • Find, analyse and synthesise information at a level that is appropriate to this stage of their studies and present it in writing;
  • Demonstrate the ability to build arguments based on empirical evidence;
  • Manage their time in order to complete an individual piece of data analysis (coursework)
  • Work together effectively as part of small teams and contribute to regular joint oral presentations, which will typically also involve PowerPoint.

Outline Syllabus

Topics will 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

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 60%
  • Presentation: 30%
  • Test: 10%

LING223: English Phonetics

  • Terms Taught: Lent / Summer terms only
  • US Credits: 4 semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

This course will provide students with an introduction to the phonetics of English. The first part of the course 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 course 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 course, we will apply some of the above concepts to understanding phonetic variation in English, including various kinds of social and geographical variation.

Educational Aims

Students will:

  • Be able to describe and understand the anatomy and physiology of the human vocal tract;
  • Be able to think systematically about phonetic variation in varieties of English;
  • Learn to use technical phonetic terminology to describe varieties of English;
  • Learn to transcribe varieties of English using the International Phonetic Alphabet;
  • Be able to recognise and describe the acoustic properties of the speech signal;
  • Improve their oral presentation, team working and general analytical skills;
  • Have a better understanding of the nature and importance of empirical evidence in argumentation
  • Work effectively in groups;
  • Demonstrate strong general analytical skills.

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • The vocal tract
  • The larynx and phonation
  • English vowels
  • English consonants
  • Acoustic phonetics
  • Voice quality and sociolinguistic meaning
  • Vowel acoustics and regional variation
  • Consonant acoustics
  • Applications of phonetics

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay: 25%
  • Exam: 50%
  • Presentation: 10%
  • Test: 15%

LING228: Child Language Acquisition

  • Terms Taught: Lent/Summer Terms Only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language or Psychology.

Course Description

This course 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 course 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.

Educational Aims

Students will acquire or develop:

  • An understanding of the stages children go through in their phonological, lexical, morphological, and syntactic development;
  • An ability to apply and evaluate corpus-based and experimental methods that can be used to measure linguistic knowledge;
  • An ability to critically compare and evaluate different theories that have been developed to explain children’s first language acquisition;
  • An ability to apply their knowledge of specific language impairment, bilingualism and childhood aphasia to evaluate first language acquisition theories.
  • General analytic competence;
  • An understanding to the links between different research methods, empirical findings and development theories;
  • An ability to critically evaluate the aforementioned links;
  • Communication skills: the ability to communicate ideas well to others and participate in group discussions as wells as the ability to write clearly and argue effectively.
On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:
  • Describe developmental stages in children’s first language acquistion;
  • Explain how children’s first language acquisition interacts with their socio-cognitive development;
  • Discuss different theories of first language acquisition;
  • Analyse language produced by young children;
  • Analyse data and present findings in written form;
  • Demonstrate independent thinking and critical reasoning in written form;
  • Evaluate links between different research methods, empirical findings and development of theories.

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • Social-cognitive prerequisites for language learning
  • Phonological and phonetic development
  • Word learning
  • Acquisition of grammar
  • Pragmatic development
  • Interactions between language and cognitive development
  • Language impairments

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay: 40%
  • Exam: 60%

LING229: Language Origins and Evolution

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language or Psychology

Course Description

This course 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.

Educational Aims

Students should acquire or develop:

  • An understanding of the history and changing status of Evolutionary Linguistics;
  • An understanding of the difficulties faced in considering issues of language evolution;
  • An understanding of the types of evidence which can be brought to bear on issues of language evolution;
  • An understanding of and ability to articulate the contents, strengths and weaknesses of different theories of language evolution;
  • An ability to deploy different models and types of evidence in arguments concerning language evolution.
  • An ability to assimilate large amounts of information into coherent narratives;
  • An ability to evaluate arguments on their own and in comparison with other arguments;
  • Effective research skills, including the use of library and IT resources, in the preparation of written work;
  • Communication skills, being able to convey complex ideas well to others and participate in group disussions;
  • Academic skills in writing clearly and arguing effectively

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Discuss the history and changing status of Evolutionary Linguistics;
  • Discuss some difficulties faced considering issues of language evolution;
  • Critically assess types of evidence which can be brought to bear on issues of language evolution;
  • Articulate the contents, strengths and weakness of different theories of language evolution;
  • Develop different modules and types of evidence in arguments concerning language evolution;
  • Evaluate arguments on their own and in comparison with other arguments;
  • Use effective research skills, including the use of library and IT resources, in preparation of written work;
  • Communicate ideas well to others and participate in group discussions;
  • Write clearly and argue effectively.

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • Language as an adaptation
  • Gestural vs. vocal origins of language
  • Cumulative vs. catastrophic evolution
  • Cognitive and communicative precursors of language
  • Communication and cognition in other primates
  • The problem of altruism in accounting for language evolution
  • The role of natural, social and sexual selection in driving language evolution

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay: 40%
  • Exam: 60%

LING232: Understanding Media

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only.
    • NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 8 Semester Credits
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 16 ECTS Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

The course provides approaches to analysing a diversity of media discourses and practices. While the precise media we examine in the course changes a little each year, in Term 1 we will generally focus on more ‘traditional’ media and news discourse. In Term 2 we will mostly examine ‘newer’, ‘social’ media platforms. Activities in lectures, seminars, and assessments will centre on analysing different media texts and practices around them - often from a comparative perspective and with a view to tracking continuity and change.

Educational Aims

This module aims to provide students with the opportunity to:

  • Explore how language interacts with media, across a diversity of communications technologies, now and in the past;
  • Introduce and apply a range of approaches to the analysis of practices and discourses, investigating how patterns in the language of media discourse contribute to recognisable media genres;
  • Relate analyses of media texts to real world issues;
  • Develop independent critical thought;
  • Develop the ability to approach diverse texts from different periods and in different genres, and critically reflect on them, applying analytical frameworks;
  • Improve communication skills: ability to communicate ideas well to others, make oral presentations using prepared materials, participate in group discussions, write clearly and argue effectively;
  • Develop effective research skills, including the ability to use library and IT resources in the preparation of written and multimodal work, and general digital literacy.

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Critically reflect on their own practices with media, comparing them with others in the light of conceptual frameworks from the course;
  • Compare and contrast multimodal media texts, applying concepts from the course as well as drawing on other related fields of study;
  • Demonstrate understandings of news discourse and news values;
  • Craft online postings, make brief analyses online and support these in seminar discussions;
  • Apply knowledge and understanding gained from the course to unfamiliar examples and write critical analyses (exam);
  • Manage their time in order to complete research investigations, reports and essays (coursework).

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • News discourse
  • Constructive journalism
  • Online commenting, blogs and Twitter
  • Multimodality
  • History of media technologies
  • Different approaches to researching the media
  • Key notions in approaching language, literacies and the media
  • Wikipedia and citizen science
  • The Edwardian postcard
  • Censorship, language and the media

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 25%
  • Essay(s): 25%
  • Exam: 50%

LING238: Independent Study

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 8 Semester Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 16 ECTS Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 ECTS Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: None

Course Description

The purpose of this module 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 a dissertation of between 9000 and 10,000 words.

Anyone interested in taking this module should discuss the matter with a member of staff before enrolling. See either Vicki Haslam (the Undergraduate Co-ordinator) or, if you already know your preferred topic area, you may wish to approach a potential supervisor directly. Note that you cannot enrol for this module online: you must contact Vicki Haslam to do so.

The deadline for submission is the Senate Deadline (Friday Week 23) of the year in which the module is taken.

Please note that in order to enrol for an Independent Study Unit you must normally have:

(i) Decided on a topic, and

(ii) Obtained the agreement of a member of staff to supervise you.

If in doubt, seek the advice of Undergraduate Co-ordinator, Vicki Haslam.

Assessment Proportions

  • Dissertation: 100%

LING263: Independent Study

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term only OR Lent/Summer Terms only
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only
    • Lent / Summer Terms only.
    NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 16 ECTS Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 ECTS Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: None

Course Description

The purpose of this module 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 of between 4500 and 5000 words.

Anyone interested in taking this module should discuss the matter with a member of staff before enrolling. See Vicki Haslam (the Undergraduate Co-ordinator).

The deadline for submission is the Senate Deadline (Friday Week 23) of the year in which the module is taken.

Please note that in order to enrol for an Independent Study Unit you must normally have:

(i) Decided on a topic, and

(ii) Obtained the agreement of a member of staff to supervise you.

If in doubt, seek the advice of Undergraduate Co-ordinator Vicki Haslam.

Assessment Proportions

  • Dissertation: 100%

LING307: Language and Identities: Gender, ethnicity and class

  • Terms Taught: Full Year Course.
  • Also Available: This module is also available in Michaelmas term only. NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course. 
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year - 8 Semester Credits.
    • Michaelmas Only - 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year - 16 ECTS Credits.
    • Michaelmas Only - 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

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

This course 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.

Educational Aims

Upon completing the course, you should have an understanding of current theory in the area of language in social life, in particular in respect of gender, ethnicity and class, and be able to apply this to a variety of real-life situations which you may encounter inside or outside the university. You will know more about sociolinguistic research in these three areas, including central ideas, key scholars, the history and development of the field, and in different research methodologies drawn on in these areas. And you will understand how connections have been made between languages in different ways in these fields of research.

Upon completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of different concepts of identity as drawn on in linguistics, particularly the difference between essentialist and social constructionist models;
  • Explain the history and development of the areas of language and gender, language and ideology, multilingualism, and language variation and change;
  • Be able to connect empirical research in the areas of language and gender, bilingualism, and language variation and change with broader theoretical concepts.

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • Notions of ‘identity’
  • Language as a social phenomenon
  • Ideologies and beliefs about language
  • Standard and nonstandard language
  • Attitudes towards language
  • Language variation and change
  • Understanding regional dialect variation
  • The role of social networks in language change
  • Accommodation between speakers
  • Bilingualism and bilingual communities
  • Ethnicity and language
  • Language contact and hybrid identities
  • Theories of language and gender
  • Gendered discourses
  • Language and sexual identities

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 40%
  • Exam: 60%

LING313: Language Change in English and Beyond

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

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 course 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.

Educational Aims

Students will:

  • Become familiar with some of the key concepts (both more and less well-established) in the study of language change;
  • Acquire knowledge of some of the major events in the history of English;
  • Acquire an understanding of the importance of the past for understanding the present, and as a result, a deeper insight into the shape and structure of English today;
  • Learn to appreciate of the sense in which one’s understanding of a given language may be informed by a comparative linguistic perspective;
  • Become aware of broader issues related to language change; (psychological, social and political dimensions).

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • What is language change?
  • Lexical and semantic change
  • Corpora in historical linguistics
  • Sound change
  • Morphological change
  • Grammaticalization
  • Models of change
  • Evolution of grammar
  • Historical pragmatics

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 40%
  • Exam: 60%

LING315: Forensic Linguistics

  • Terms Taught: Lent/Summer Terms Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

What does your voice/writing say about your identity? What is the role of language in our legal system? How might linguists contribute to justice? This module aims to provide an accessible introduction to general forensic linguistics and forensic phonetics. The module will be largely problem-based with reference to specific (legal) cases, and you will be familiarised with relevant linguistic ‘tools’ for analysing the cases.

Educational Aims

The module aims to provide students with:

  • An understanding of the history and highly evolving status of forensic linguistics;
  • An understanding of the nature of forensic linguistics;
  • An appreciation of the difference between forensic linguistics and forensic phonetics;
  • The ability to carry out basic analysis of a variety of written and spoken texts from the point of view of language and the law;
  • An understanding of some of the difficulties in using scientific evidence in a court of law;
  • Insight into the combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis;
  • Analytical skills through close examination of linguistic evidence;
  • The opportunity to improve their argumentative skills, both spoken (through contributions in seminars) and written (through the writing of their essay);
  • Increased skills in carrying out library (and internet) based research.

On completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Appreciate the history and constantly evolving status of forensic linguistics in courts of law
  • Engage in meaningful and critical discussion of the main methods used by forensic linguistics in establishing the meaning and the author of a text;
  • Carry out basic phonetic and grammatical/lexical analyses themselves to shed light on questions related to meaning and/or authorship of a text
  • Appreciate and critically discuss the role of linguistics in questions related to trademarks, aspects of the language used in courts of law;
  • Understand aspects of the reality of being a professional forensic linguist;
  • Reflect on the role of science in context of the law;
  • Critically evaluate the contribution made by quantitative and qualitative analysis in solving a complicated problem;
  • Carry out research projects based on library (and internet) research;
  • Display the ability to set up coherent arguments both in speech and in writing.

Outline Syllabus

Topics may vary each year, but will typically include:

  • Trademark disputes
  • Word meaning and legal interpretation
  • Meaning disputes
  • Product warnings
  • Misleading language in advertisement
  • Authorship analysis
  • Language and disadvantage before the law
  • Language crimes (e.g. perjury, threat, bribery)
  • Verbal lie detection
  • Speaker profiling
  • Forensic speaker identification/comparison
  • Earwitness identification
  • The linguist as expert witness and conclusion frameworks

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 40%
  • Exam: 60%

LING316: Psycholinguistics

  • Terms Taught: Lent/Summer Terms only.
  • US Credits: 4 semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS credits
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language or Psychology.

Course Description

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 can vary each year depend on who is teaching on the course, 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 a language normally or when adults suffer from brain damage.

Educational Aims

To provide students with:

  • Knowledge and understanding of research in the field of psycholinguistics, including topics selected from language acquisition, cognitive psychology of language, literacy, language modelling, and acquired and developmental disorders of language;
  • The ability to reflect critically upon the nature of theories in psycholinguistics and in particular how experimental and observational data can inform these;
  • Introduction to approaches to psycholinguistics from a variety of methodologies including computermodelling, case studies, psycholinguistic experimentation and naturalistic observation;
  • The opportunity to develop general analytic competence;
  • An understanding of the links between different research methods, empirical findings and theories;
  • The ability to critically evaluate the aforementioned links
  • The ability to develop new links between different research methods, empirical findings and theories;
  • Communication skills: the ability to communicate ideas well to others and participate in group discussions as well as the ability to write clearly and argue effectively.

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Discuss theories and data within psycholinguistics, both from a psychological and a linguistic viewpoint;
  • Discuss the types of techniques used in psycholinguistic studies and the methodological and ethical issues that pertain;
  • Discuss theory and dtat through written media;
  • Critically evaulate conflicting theories and present data and methodology;
  • Analyse and evaluate data;
  • Evaluate theories in light of data;
  • Think independently and discuss reasoning;
  • Write effectively and discuss reasoning critically.

Outline Syllabus

Topics will include:

  • Word learning and categorization
  • Language and Theory of Mind
  • Studies of children with Specific Language Impairment and autism
  • The brain-language relationship (including acquired disorders of language)
  • Grammatical processing
  • Artificial language learning
  • Computer and connectionist models

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay(s): 40%
  • Exam: 60%

LING317: Language in the Workplace: Topics in Professional Communication

  • Terms Taught: Lent/Summer Terms Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

In this module, we start with approaches from language studies and social science studies (e.g. analysis of genres, sequences, roles/identities, stories/narratives) and apply them to different workplace topics. The topics in this module (e.g. delivering bad news, demonstrating active listening, giving advice effectively) will be applicable to institutions such as social services, non-governmental organizations, technical services, schools; and will be relevant to a range of communication-centred jobs including human resources, technical writing, public relations, training and management.

Educational Aims

This module aims to:

  • Apply linguistic analyses of genre features, conversational sequences, identities and roles, and stories to professional settings;
  • Place the analysis of communication within a broader understanding of professional roles and practice;
  • Consider differences and similarities between different kinds of workplaces and different roles;
  • Provide practice in academic writing and presentations;
  • Encourage critical examination of the relations between institutions and communicative roles;
  • Relate what students have learned in their degree to potential workplaces.

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Read and assess studies in several approaches (genres, sequences, roles/identies, stories/narratives) to interaction at work;
  • Draw on relevant analytical frameworks and methods of analysis to analyse some data;
  • Demonstrate awareness of resources for research in this area, including on-line databases;
  • Demonstrate awareness of key controversies in the analysis of interaction at work, including issues of equity, power, social and cultural difference, and responses to change;
  • Use online databases for research purposes;
  • Find publicly available research materials;
  • Analyse recordings, transcripts, and other data while focusing on useful interpretive insights;
  • Link acadmic insights from this and other modules to practical issues;
  • Present findings to different audiences.

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • Frameworks and resources for studying interaction
  • Delivering (bad) news
  • (Active) listening and advising
  • Getting in contributions in meetings
  • Understanding aggression
  • Collaborating
  • Using on-line networks
  • Responding to on-line complaints

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Presentation (Assessed): 10%
  • Project: 40%

LING324: Cognitive Linguistics

  • Terms Taught: Lent/Summer Terms only.
  • US Credits: 4 semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

The course 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 course, 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.

Educational Aims

Students should acquire or develop, beyond the level achieved in the second year on LING220 Structures of the World's Languages:

  • An understanding of Cognitive Linguistics, especially as it pertains to grammar and semantics
  • An understanding of the relation between Cognitive Linguistics and concepts from cognitive psychology
  • A basic understanding of some of the ways in which this approach differs from its main competitor in the field, i.e. Chomskian Generative Grammar.

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Read and assess studies in several approaches (genres, sequences, roles/identies, stories/narratives) to interaction at work;
  • Draw on relevant analytical frameworks and methods of analysis to analyse some data;
  • Demonstrate awareness of resources for research in this area, including on-line databases;
  • Demonstrate awareness of key controversies in the analysis of interaction at work, including issues of equity, power, social and cultural difference, and responses to change;
  • Use online databases for research purposes;
  • Find publicly available research materials;
  • Analyse recordings, transcripts, and other data while focusing on useful interpretive insights;
  • Link acadmic insights from this and other modules to practical issues;
  • Present findings to different audiences.

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • What is - and what isn’t - Cognitive Linguistics?
  • From cognitive psychology to linguistics 1: Categorisation
  • More than words: Lexical categories in Cognitive Linguistics
  • From cognitive psychology to linguistics 2: Frames and attention
  • From cognitive psychology to linguistics 3: Other construal operations
  • Putting two and two together: How concepts are combined
  • A new twist on an old story: Idioms
  • One thing leads to another: From idioms to construction grammar
  • From cognitive psychology to linguistics 4: Frequency, resemblance and the usage-based model

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay: 20%
  • Exam: 60%
  • Presentation: 20%

LING325: Topics in Phonetic and Phonological Theory

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term only.
  • US Credits: 4 semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

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 course 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?'

Educational Aims

Students should acquire or develop, beyond the level achieved in the second year on LING221 Sounds of the World's Languages:

  • An understanding of the central concepts of modern linguistic theory in general and in particular a sound understanding of some current approaches to phonetic and phonological theories;
  • An understanding of the development of phonological theory within the context of 19th-21st century linguistics;
  • The ability to critically evaluate different approaches to phonetics and phonology;
  • The ability to evaluate the nature of the evidence used in support of each theory;
  • An understanding of different experimental techniques used in the investigation of theoretical concepts;
  • Independent critical thought;
  • The ability to assimilate fast large amounts of unfamiliar materials and critically reflect on them, and general analytical competence;
  • An understanding of the nature of empirical evidence;
  • Communication skills: ability to communicate ideas well to others, make oral presenations using prepared materials, participate in group discussions, write clearly and argue effectively;
  • Effective research skills, including the ability to use library and IT resources in preparation of written work, and general computer literacy.

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Explain the main aims and approaches to different phonological theories;
  • Explain how theoretical approaches to phonetics/phonology developed within linguistics and other cognitive disciplines;
  • Evaluate the evidence used in support of different approaches;
  • Evaluate the nature of the experimental evidence in phonetic/phonological study;
  • Think critically about empirical evidence;
  • Express their ideas witin a written and oral context;
  • Synthesise complex and advanced scientific papers;
  • Work individually and in a group;
  • Communicate ideas as part of a group discussion
  • Communicate ideas effectively within a group presentation environment.

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • Models of phonology
  • Articulatory phonology
  • Usage-based phonology
  • Intonation and Intonational variation
  • Types of sound change
  • Reasons for sound change
  • Phonological variation
  • Acquisition of phonology
  • Bilingual phonology

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay: 30%
  • Exam: 60%
  • Presentation: 10%

LING326: Corpus-based English Language Studies

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

This course focuses on one of the most versatile and popular approaches to the exploration of the English Language: corpus linguistics. Currently, all English language dictionaries and most grammar books are based on corpus linguistic research. Corpus linguistics is a scientific discipline which uses specialised software and large amounts of linguistic data to investigate patterns in language and society. Lancaster University has a long tradition of corpus research – indeed, it is one of the places where corpus linguistics was born. In 2015, in recognition of the cutting-edge corpus research at Lancaster, Lancaster University was awarded The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education.

The course's programme of lectures will begin with a detailed introduction to the method before moving on, later in the term, to discuss some of the most interesting applications of the method such as the study of sociolinguistics, discourse and online language. Meanwhile, lab-based seminars will allow students to acquire and exercise practical skills with the computational tools such as #LancsBox, a tool developed at Lancaster University which is now widely used in the field.

Educational Aims

Students should gain an understanding of the following issues:

  • The role of computer-aided (corpus) analysis in linguistic research;
  • Key corpus methods of linguistic analysis;
  • The application of corpus methods to different areas of English Language Studies (e.g. lexical, grammatical, semantic and pragmatic analysis).

The module aims to develop students' ability to:

  • Think rigorously and critically about the design of research questions and experimental/descriptive methods;
  • Undertake analysis that links quantitative and qualitative modes of thinking and exploits computational research systems for a variety of purposes;
  • Critically evaluate the details of a methodology and understand the limitations it places on the interpretation of evidence;
  • Understand the role of statistics and statistical significance in research.

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Select and collect textual data for corpus based analysis;
  • Use current state-of-the-art software tools for corpus annotation and corpus based analysis;
  • Apply, and understand the limitations of, a range of theoretical and methodological models to study of textual variation;
  • Design, implement and report on their own research tasks;
  • Develop analyses incorporating large sets of diverse, abstract data;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of statistics in supporting research findings of various kinds;
  • Effectively communicate with regard to abstract and/or technical problems (within research and more generally)

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • Introduction to corpus linguistics
  • Corpus techniques: frequency information and wordlists
  • Corpus techniques: concordancing
  • Corpus techniques: collocations
  • Corpus types and corpus development
  • Corpus approaches to sociolinguistics
  • Corpus approaches to (critical) discourse analysis
  • Corpus approaches to pragmatics
  • Corpus approaches to online interaction

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 60%
  • Project: 40%

LING327: Advanced English Phonetics

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

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? Throughout the course, we will discuss these questions with reference to different theories, and also learn how to test hypotheses using mini experiments.

Lectures will give an overview of the different topics and seminars will involve a mix of practical and discussion activities. The assessments will require you to apply the practical skills and theoretical knowledge that you have acquired throughout the course.

Educational Aims

Students should gain an understanding of the following issues:

  • Speech acoustics;
  • Hearing and anatomy of the ear;
  • Different theories of speech perception;
  • The effects of social information on speech perception;
  • Appropriate methods and data analysis.

Students will also be able to:

  • Think rigourously and critically about the design of research questions and experimental/descriptive methods;
  • Undertake analysis that links quantative and qualitative modes of thinking and exploits computational research systems for a variety of purposes;
  • Critically evaluate the details of a methodology and understand the limitations it places on the interpretation of evidence;
  • Understand the issues involved in reporting data analysis.

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the relationship between the mathematical dimensions of the vocal tract and speech acoustics;
  • Demonstrate understanding of the theory and application of vowel normalisation procedures;
  • Evaluate different approaches to the study of phonetic variation and identity;
  • Evaluate the implications of sociophonetic research for theories of language processing;
  • Use software for acoustic analysis of speech sound;
  • Use software to design and present speech perception experiments;
  • Design, implement and report on their own research tasks;
  • Develop analyses incorporating large sets of diverse, abstract data;
  • Understand the role of statistics in supporting research findings of various kinds;
  • Effectively communicate with regard to abstract and/or technical problems (within research and more generally)

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • Acoustic phonetics
  • The ear and hearing
  • Theories of speech perception
  • Production-perception relationships
  • Speech perception and linguistic knowledge
  • Contact varieties of English
  • Cross-linguistic speech perception
  • Speech perception and social information
  • Designing experiments and collecting data
  • Scientific writing
  • Statistics and visualisation

Assessment Proportions

  • Project: 60%
  • Report: 40%

LING330: Language, Culture and Thought

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term only.
  • US Credits: 4 semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Must have previously studied Linguistics and/or English Language.

Course Description

The course 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 course 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 course 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.

Educational Aims

Students should acquire or develop:

  • The ability to understand a range of basic and advanced concepts and terminology in the field of language, culture and thought, and specifically relating to the linguistic relativity hypothesis;
  • An awareness and appreciation of the interaction of language with thinking processes and mental representations;
  • Knowledge and critical awareness of different methodological approaches to current issues in the field of language, culture and thought.
  • The ability to read, critically evaluate, and engage fully with state-of-the-art studies;
  • The ability to present and discuss data in groups, and demonstrate a high level of effectiveness at individual and team working;
  • The ability to carry out research effectively, including the use of library and IT resources, in the preparation of written work;
  • The ability to produce clear academic prose, including sound argunmentation

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of a range of basic and advanced concepts and terminology in the field of language, culture and thought, and specifically relating to the linguistic relativity hypothesis;
  • Demonstrate awareness and appreciation of the interaction of language with thinking processes and mental representations;
  • Demonstrate knowledge and critical awareness of different methodological approaches to current issues in the field of language, culture, and thought;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with experimental research methods of measuring linguistic and non-linguistic cognitive behaviour cross-culturally, and comparative understanding of different laboratory methods;
  • Communicate ideas about processes such as memory, conceptualization, categorical perception, and the general theory of linguistic relativity;
  • Recognise and describe different linguistic and behavioural phenomena relating to language and thought;
  • Synthesize information about language and memory representation in the mind and brain, and apply it to the study of linguistic relativity;
  • Read, critically evaluate, and engage fully with state-of-the-art journal articles;
  • Present and discuss data in groups, and demonstrate a high level of effectiveness at individual and team working;
  • Carry out research effectively, making appropriate use of the library and IT resources;
  • Produce clear academic writing, including sound argumentation.

Outline Syllabus

Topics will typically include:

  • The architecture of thought in the human mind
  • Language and Culture: On the meaning of meaning
  • Thinking with language: Language as meddler
  • Thinking with language: Language as augmenter
  • Thinking after language: Language as spotlight
  • Thinking after language: Language as inducer
  • Individual differences in language, culture and thought
  • First language development and thought: Theory of mind
  • Second language development and thought: Statistical learning

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay: 40%
  • Exam: 40%
  • Presentation: 20%