You will complete either a Language Dissertation or Language Investigation.
The Language Investigation module brings all the research skills and command of resources that you’ve acquired during the previous two years of study to bear on a year-long individual piece of work on a linguistic topic of your own choosing. In the Language Investigation report, you’ll be expected to demonstrate professional competence in the materials and methods of linguistic research, an understanding of the relevant theoretical issues, and a capacity for independent thinking and clear presentation of your findings. You’ll choose your topic during your second year (or year abroad), in consultation with the convenor or your allocated supervisor in the summer term. Usually, some preliminary reading and other preparatory work will be undertaken during the long vacation preceding the Final Year, and you may in fact already have done some relevant reading or data collection as part of the Year 2 module Research Skills in English Language.
The Language Dissertation offers you an opportunity to explore in depth a linguistic topic of your own choosing, and to bring all the research skills and command of resources that you’ve acquired during the previous two years of study to bear on a year-long individual piece of work. On a more ambitious scale and with correspondingly wider subject-matter and range of resources than the Language Investigation module, the Language Dissertation may be particularly appropriate for students who would like to proceed to a masters-level programme or to a research degree. In this module, students are expected to demonstrate their capacity for independent thinking and work, along with a professional competence in the materials and methods of linguistic research, the cogent presentation of research results, and insight into and knowledge of the relevant theoretical issues. You’ll choose your topic during Year 2 (or year abroad), in consultation with the convenor or your allocated supervisor in the summer term. Usually, some preliminary reading and other preparatory work will be undertaken during the long vacation preceding the Final Year, and you may in fact already have done some relevant reading or data collection as part of the Year 2 module Research Skills in English Language.
You will choose from option modules such as:
Language, Gender and Identity
(20 Credit Module)
Do men and women speak ‘differently’? What are the implications of gender-marked lexis? How does gender interact with identity? And what do we mean by identity, anyway? These are some of the questions posed, explored and critiqued throughout the module as we investigate the interface between language, gender and identity using a range of historical and contemporary, spoken and written texts. Topics may include: the origins and evolution of language and gender studies; the constructivist approach to gender and identity, and the role of language in the creation of self; the depiction of gender and sexuality in written discourse including popular media and fictional narratives; sites of social conflict, such as ‘exceptional women’ in power, and the performances of identities in non-heteronormative social groups. Throughout we assess the possible impacts and implications of gender and identity analysis, and its relevance for the 21st century.
The aim of this course is to explore the lexis of English – we’ll be considering the nature of the English lexicon, and how it’s organized, and what it means to ‘know’ a word. We’ll look at word meanings, including figurative meaning, and phrases and phraseology, and explore the ways words are used in text. In the course, we’ll draw extensively from (mainly) non-literary sources, and also corpus data drawn from the Bank of English or other corpora. The module begins by looking at the English lexicon in general; word creation and formation; the mental lexicon (how words are stored in the mind); and collocation and multi-word items. We then look at different aspects of word meaning, including figurative meaning, semantic fields, synonymy and antonymy. The second part of the module focuses on lexis in text and discourse, so we cover topics such as variation in lexis across field, register and genre; lexis in spoken language, colloquial language and slang; and then ways in which words and metaphorical uses of words express ideology and evaluation, or help organize text and its meanings.
Language and the Mind
The module covers all the key areas in psycholinguistics that relate to language representation and development in the mind. It also includes work from the emerging discipline of cognitive linguistics, which is gaining worldwide popularity. Topics include: cognitive linguistic approaches to language, language representation in the mind, language schemata and long term memory, embodied cognition and metaphor, construal and categorisation, motivated meaning, the relationship between language and gesture, the bilingual mind, the impact of culture on language in the mind, neurolinguistics and language disorders.
Health and Discourse
Health and Discourse explores the role of discourse in health, illness and medicine. We will cover topics that fall into two main categories. Firstly, we will look at the discursive construction of the experiences of people with health problems, for example through narrative reconstructions of illness experiences, positioning of ‘sick’ and ‘healthy’ people through interaction, use of online forums for health advice and interactions in doctor-patient consultations. Secondly, we will look at some of the dominant discourses around health and illness, focussing on issues of mental health, patient-centred practice, and the discourses of personal risk and responsibility found in health promotion. We will also look at how health professionals construct clear (or not!) public health advice.The module will also cover a range of approaches and methods that are used in health discourse analysis, such as illness narratives, discursive psychology, conversation analysis, text analysis, Foucauldian perspectives and critical discourse analysis.
In this module we explore theoretical issues in linguistics. The aim is to provide an overview of developments in linguistic theory since the late 19th century, and an opportunity to reflect on the nature of language, following two years of specialist linguistics modules and study. The exact content of the module varies from year to year, but representative topics include (i) major linguists and their influences on the development of linguistic theory and linguistic approaches, for example Saussure, Firth and Chomsky; (ii) the contested relationship between language, thought and culture; (iii) the evolution of language and primate language; (iv) the nature of linguistic meaning. There will be opportunities to accommodate other linguistic theoretical topics, according to students’ individual interests.
English Language Teaching
(20 Credit Module)
The purpose of the module is to lead you to an understanding of the way in which linguistic theory is applied to the field of language teaching, especially foreign and second-language teaching. Although the module does not provide a recognised qualification in TEFL/TESL, it provides a thorough introduction to the theory underlying the subject and gives you an opportunity to relate your theoretical knowledge to pedagogic practice by including an element of fieldwork (classroom observations and in-class teaching practice) and data analysis. Topics include: differences between first and second-language learning; variation in language learning ability, e.g. social and cultural, as well as individual factors such as personality and intelligence; the meaning of errors; differences between languages and communicative competence. It has a very strong focus on the practice of language teaching and workshops and lectures are geared towards the analysis of teaching material and teaching methods.
Linguistic ‘creativity’ tends to be associated with a certain kind of language – that found within written, highly valued literary texts – and recognition of a creative capacity is often reserved for artistic geniuses such as the English language writers Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Dickens. In the hands of such authors, language can be used to create imagery and new worlds, to move readers, and challenge their perceptions. But this linguistic creativity comes from a natural ability in all of us to play with language. This module looks at what it means to be creative with language in ordinary situations which people encounter in their everyday lives, from their own conversations to shop signs and websites. The module also looks at the opportunities which new media present for informal and playful written communication, for playing with and reconfiguring texts, and for combining text and image. These texts are explored using linguistic concepts such as evaluation, multimodality, and metaphor. By the end of this practical module, students will have collected and analysed examples of creative language use occurring around them, and have explored analytical frameworks within which ‘ordinary creativity’ can be understood alongside more ‘routine’/’prosaic’ texts.
Discourse and Society
The aim of this course is to develop a critical awareness of relations between language use and its social situations and functions. The first half of the semester explores largely descriptive theories of discourse and society, taking in linguistic, sociological and anthropological perspectives – how can we understand language use in terms of the broader social, cultural and political activities and structures of which it is a part? The second half of the semester shifts the emphasis to the critical, and to issues of propaganda, ‘spin’ and ideology, taking in the ideas of George Orwell, Dale Spender and, prominently, the tradition of Critical Discourse Analysis – how can an understanding of language use help us to critique social, cultural and political activities and structures?