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.
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.
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.
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?
This module will introduce students to a range of language impairments in children and adults. It will draw on detailed linguistic knowledge to consider developmental disorders of speech and language in children, and acquired and degenerative language disorders in adults. Students will be given the opportunity to analyse language data to consider the impact of specific conditions across all linguistic subsystems, including phonetics and phonology, syntax and morphology, and semantics and pragmatics. The module will focus on the linguistic aspects but will also consider approaches to diagnosis, rehabilitation and therapy.
Language and New Media
This module examines the language that occurs in online contexts, such as social network sites, wikis, websites and blogs. It will introduce students to a range of methods used in computer-mediated discourse analysis and media sociolinguistics. During the module, students will explore digitally mediated language through a series of case studies, and question what counts as ‘language’ in multimodal communication, the multi-layered nature of context and the ongoing relationship between language use and ideology.
Exploring Linguistic Diversity
This module gives an introduction to the diversity and essential characteristics of the world’s languages, how data is collected in linguistic typology, and how it can be described and analysed. It will draw on and extend the concepts and methods that students have acquired in their English language studies thus far to tackle one of the fundamental questions in contemporary linguistics: how much do languages differ from each other? We will study this question across a range of linguistic subsystems, including phonetics, phonology, morphology and syntax, drawing on case studies from languages around the world. The issue of language endangerment, and the challenges of language documentation, will also be discussed.
Language and Creativity
‘Creativity’ tends to be associated with a certain kind of language – that found within written, highly valued literary texts – but linguistic creativity comes from a natural ability for all of us to play with language. This module looks at what it means to be creative with language in everyday situations. It looks at how the creative use of language contributes to discourse community membership, how language is used in a range of advertising contexts, how language is used to evoke sensory ideas and mental images, and what creativity means for language learning and cross-cultural communication. The module will explore a range of texts and examples of real language use using linguistic concepts such as metaphor, metonymy, idioms and formulaic language, word coinage, hyperbole, iconicity and sound symbolism. By the end of this module, students will have collected and analysed examples of creative language use occurring around them, and have explored ways in which the creative use of language contributes to effective communication.