English Language year 1 modules

Compulsory modules

Fundamentals of Language: Sounds and Words

This core module explores foundational concepts and issues in the study of English language and linguistics in preparation for the specialised subject pathways the students will follow in Years 2 and 3. In particular, the module focuses on the areas of phonetic/phonology, morphology and lexical semantics. Topics covered include how the sounds of a language pattern and how they can be described, how words enter the language and how they relate to one another and carry meaning.

Fundamentals of Language: Grammar and Discourse

This core module explores foundational concepts and issues in the study of English language and linguistics in preparation for the specialised subject pathways the students will follow in Years 2 and 3. In particular, the module focuses on the areas of syntax, semantics (broadly conceived) and discourse/pragmatics. Topics covered include how words can be classified according to their grammatical properties, how they are related to each other in sentences, and how speakers understand utterances in specific contexts of interaction and make sense of each other’s communicative intentions.

Theories of Language

The aims of this module are to provide first year undergraduate students of English Language with (a) a sound basic knowledge and understanding of the major theories of language that have been developed within the discipline of linguistics from the beginning of the 20th century up to the present day, and (b) a sound basic awareness of the key figures associated with each of these theoretical traditions. The module begins with an overview of the basic concepts of structuralist linguistics as laid down by Saussure, before moving on to consider the generativist approach established by Chomsky. We then focus on the two main alternatives to (and critiques of) generative linguistics: functionalism, particularly in the British tradition established by Firth (e.g. Halliday, Sinclair, Hoey) and the usage-based theories associated with cognitive linguistics (e.g. Langacker, Fillmore, Lakoff, Tomasello). Throughout the module students will be encouraged to think critically about each theoretical tradition, and to consider which of the linguistic theories they are introduced to they find the most compelling and/or useful.

Applied Linguistics

Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field that investigates and offers solutions to real-life problems, questions and issues in which language plays a central role. Although originally restricted to the topic of language learning and teaching, applied linguistics now encompasses a much wider range of concerns, including literacy, language testing, bilingualism and multilingualism, translation, language policy and planning, discourse analysis, stylistics and forensic linguistics, among others. This module aims to give students: 1. a broad understanding of how Applied Linguistics has developed as a field, and of what distinguishes it from theoretical linguistics; 2. a broad understanding of the aims, scope and diversity of the field in its current form; 3. an opportunity to study key developments in some of the major subfields of Applied Linguistics in more depth. 4. an ability to offer balanced and informed assessments of published research in Applied Linguistics.

Investigating Language 

This module is designed to develop students' understanding of key issues in research into the English language, with emphasis on the methodologies and objectives of language-studies research. It will begin to develop their skills in conducting and writing up their own research projects. Students will undertake small-scale research projects in which they will collect data and analyse it, according to descriptive frameworks that they are studying in this and the companion modules.

Professional Communication

The module will give students an opportunity to explore language and interaction in professional settings. It will introduce students to approaches and methods for analysing forms of oral and written professional discourse from the workplace such as cover letters & job interviews, sales pitches & print advertisements, social media pages, corporate social responsibility reports & crisis management reports, news broadcasting & press releases. It aims to sensitise students to the key role language plays in a range of different professional settings (business, marketing, advertising, education etc), and to offer them an opportunity to put this knowledge into practice through a series of hands-on activities during workshops and seminars.  The ultimate aim of the module is to help students develop a range of transferable oral, written and interpersonal skills which are directly relevant to professional life and will thus contribute to enhancing their employability prospects.

Thinking, reading and writing at University 

The module aims to ensure that students are equipped with critical strategies for thinking, reading and writing in higher education. Students will explore different academic genres and understand how these disseminate academic knowledge and/or research. The genres will range from the more typical academic essay or academic research article to newer genres such as academic blogs. One of the key skills the module will develop is how to read academic texts critically by using a range of strategies to identify and evaluate arguments in texts. These discussions will be embedded in concepts such as purpose, audience and style which combine to produce successful texts for different audiences. Over the course of the module, students will be introduced to key methods of critical reading & analysis and persuasive writing and provided with opportunities to practice these skills.