The aim of this course is to make students aware of the role of language in relating to reality. To a much greater extent than we think, our attitudes and beliefs are shaped by the language and discourses that surround us; our understanding of the world is in part a result of what is repeatedly communicated to us by society and its mass media. The course enables students to identify and critique ideologically-charged forms of categorisation, including forms of bias, 'spin', and differential representation. The course aims at a combination of analysing real language data (e.g., as found on the Web) with study of relevant texts dealing with discourse and reality. The first semester will introduce simple corpus methods for dealing with real language data; it will also introduce Critical Discourse Analysis and consider its contribution to discourse-oriented social studies. The second semester focuses on how particular discourses change over time and how these changes affect our beliefs and attitudes. Here a particular socially-relevant topic (e.g., genetically-modified food; private medicine vs ‘social’ medicine; minority-language maintenance vs globalising English) may be studied in depth over several weeks.