English Language and Linguistics modules

Indicative module descriptions

Autumn term modules

Discourse, Culture and Intercultural Communication

This module aims to lead students to consider discourse production and reception as they are conditioned by their interactional, social, historical, political and cultural contexts and, in doing so, develop their awareness of what is involved in ‘situated’ discourse. Grounded in a view that culture is to a significant extent discursive – that is, based upon and realised by the ways in which we talk to each other about ‘ourselves’ and about ‘others’ – we take a critical linguistic and intercultural approach to our subject matter, hoping to draw upon the variety of students’ own cultural backgrounds as a basis for discussion and contrastive analysis.  

The module will provide a critical overview of major theories in Discourse Studies and Intercultural Communication, but also aims to develop more practical, analytic skills – training students to identify patterns of organisation and discursive strategies in authentic written and oral texts, drawn from various sources (e.g. media, advertising, political speeches / interviews, casual conversation, etc.). We thus hope to enable students to develop a critical understanding of key concepts in, and approaches to, Discourse Analysis and of how language reflects, mediates or – arguably – creates our (various) everyday realities. Further, we aim to develop awareness of the increasing need for – and the problems involved in – communication across cultural boundaries of language(s), style(s) and value(s) in the context of ‘globalisation’.

Assessment: 4000-word essay, or report on a small-scale research project concerning some aspect of interdiscursive / intercultural communication.

Psychology of Language

The aim of this module is to provide an overview of major topics and issues in psycholinguistics and cognitive studies of language. We look at how people produce and understand language; how language is organised in the mind and brain; the embodied and metaphorical basis for language; the relationship between language and thought and the significance of linguistic diversity; the development and acquisition of language; and the connection between language and gesture.

Assessment: One 4,000-word final project report or essay


This module explores the relationship between language and society, examining how variation in language structure is distributed across different aspects of society, for example, the correlation between the use of particular linguistic forms and social class groups, genders, age groups and geographical areas. The module considers the associations that develop between aspects of a speaker's identity and different linguistic forms, the role of prestige (overt and covert), stigmatisation and the significance of one's social networks and communities, and how these facets of variation lead to changes in the English language.

Assessment: One 4,000-word final project report or essay

Spring term modules

Bilingualism and Multilingualism in the TESOL Classroom

The aim of this module is to give an overview of the theoretical and practical foundations and implications of bilingualism and multilingualism in the TESOL classroom. In the context of a multilingual class environment, definitions of bi- and multilingualism will be encountered and discussed from a number of perspectives, e.g. their connection with societal issues, thinking and intelligence, cognitive theories, educational policies and teacher training, in-class response and strategies. The last point includes practical implications and will lead you to envisage and design practical approaches to successfully include bi- and multilingualism in their daily TESOL classroom practice.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Corpus Assisted Language Learning (CALL)

This module has a practical and a theoretical component. In practical terms, it gives you experience of using the corpus in the language classroom, and looks at the concept of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ use of the corpus and corpus data. The theoretical component covers pedagogical considerations, such as the philosophy of data-driven learning and the role of CALL within the curriculum.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Corpus Linguistics 

This module offers advanced studies in a specialist area of Applied English Linguistics: Corpus Linguistics. A number of issues in corpus linguistics are considered, including the compilation of a corpus; the information to be gained from concordance lines and collocational information, and how this can be interpreted; the implications for theories of language of observations made from a corpus; contrasting approaches to corpora, and the theoretical assumptions behind each; current applications of corpora, mainly language teaching and/or translation, but also stylistics, ideology and forensic linguistics; possible future directions in corpus linguistics.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

English as an International Language

This module will to introduce you to problematic issues in English as a global language. It will: present an overview of the issues; consider how English and globalisation are inter-linked; show how the spread of English can be viewed as hindrance or facilitator; investigate the uses of English in different domains; investigate the development of new Englishes; and present arguments for / against attempts to control the spread of English.

Assessment: Written assignment

Issues in Intercultural Communication

In today’s ‘global world’, it is necessary to communicate successfully across cultural boundaries of languages, styles and values. The aim of this course is to provide an overview of the major issues in the area of Intercultural Communication, with particular reference to developments in the last 25 years. In attempting to address such questions, we will hope to draw upon the variety of students’ cultural backgrounds as a basis for discussion and contrastive analysis. There will be some scope for negotiating content in response to students’ interests, but some of the topics we might explore include: culture: definitions and dimensions; stereotyping the other (and the self?); culture and communication; identity and ‘cultures within cultures’; intercultural mediation; and language(s), discourse(s) and globalisation(s).

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Language and Gesture

This module focuses on a growing new subfield in linguistics: the study of gesture and its relationship to spoken language. The module introduces you to the study of language and gesture, focusing on the use of gesture in face-to-face interaction, drawing mainly on the analysis of spoken communication (especially everyday conversations and narratives) to demonstrate gesture’s varied communicative role. The module will begin with a discussion of the history of the study of gesture, exploring the relationship between gesture and sign languages, and how the use of gesture varies according to cultural and language differences. The emphasis will be on the semiotic, linguistic and cultural aspects of gestural communication, but we will also touch on the neurological foundations of gesture, its developmental course in infants and children, and its possible role in the evolution of language.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Language and New Media

Since the end of the twentieth century, new media have transformed our lives and the way we communicate. However, for many people – teachers, parents, politicians – new communications technology also sparks serious concerns and raises troubling questions. Should we worry about ‘txtspk’ and the effect it has on children’s literacy? What impact is the internet having on traditional community networks? How are Wikipedia, websites and blogs altering ideas about what it means to be an author? And is the internet bolstering the global dominance of English at the expense of other languages?

This module looks at how these public concerns can be addressed using tools and theories of applied linguistics, through their application in seminars to naturally-occurring online texts. By the end of this module, you will have studied a range of current online contexts – from websites and wikis to texting and Twitter – and will be equipped to consider the implications and issues that arise within the rapidly-changing virtual world. In particular, you will have an understanding of: the contextual factors motivating linguistic features in online contexts; the use and significance of multimodal resources; the nature and function of online communities; what it means to be a reader and a writer of new media texts; the role and status of English and other languages online; how online data can be collected and exploited, and whether existing frameworks of analysis can be transferred online.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Language, Gender and Identity

This module explores the relationship between linguistic form and speaker identity. Drawing on diverse work in the fields of stylistics, sociolinguistics and language and gender studies, we explore how “identity” can be understood as a theoretical concept and an object of study, and at the complex relationship between identity language and power.

The module is centred on the concept of the ‘idiolect’ - the language of the individual. We consider how individuals utilise linguistic resources for their self-representation, looking at particular aspects of identity (power, social class, ethnicity and particularly gender), assessing how a speaker’s choices may differ or develop in reflection of their social experiences, and how the same choices intersect with the socio-cultural norms (register, genre, sociolect) of their speech community.

The module explores the topics using texts from different historical periods and different genres (including political speeches, private letters, news and social media texts), combining both quantitative and qualitative analytic methods.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Psycholinguistics in TESOL

In this module we have a closer look at language, its production,  how it is acquired/ learned, and its representation in the brain, among other core issues. Then we draw a connection between these language-immanent topics and their relevance for language teaching, in our case English language teaching to speakers of other languages. We will investigate issues that are vital for teaching, such as error correction, language testing, speech selection and production, explanatory frameworks offered by linguistic theories and teaching approaches arising from them.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Please note: the optional module information listed here is intended to be indicative and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year.