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 have 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 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 will 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.
The Language Investigation module brings all the research skills and command of resources that you have 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 will 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 will 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.
Example optional modules may include:
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?
English Language Teaching
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 may 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 and 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.
Language, Gender and Identity
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 twenty first century.
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, Senses and Sound Symbolism
This module will introduce students to a range of topics in the study of sensory language, including how sensory terms differ between languages (e.g. some languages have more smell terms than English) and how sensory language connects to various topics of linguistic theory and cognitive linguistics. Students will be given the opportunity to analyse language data and advertisements to consider sensory language in the context of various linguistic subsystems, including phonetics and phonology, syntax and morphology and semantics and pragmatics.
In this module, students gain a deeper understanding of how and why languages change and how historical language research is conducted. We explore the development of recent, as well as historical, changes to the English language occurring throughout the language system: grammar, morphology, word meaning and phonology. We discuss the difficulties and limitations of historical language research and examine the relatively recent use of electronic corpora as a tool for investigating language change.
The aim of this module is to provide students with an in-depth introduction to phraseology, the branch of linguistics that considers why some word combinations are acceptable while others are not. We consider phraseology from a psychological perspective, asking how word combinations are stored in and accessed from the mind and we consider more socially-oriented views of phraseology, which see word combinations as preferred ways of speaking or writing in particular social or institutional settings. Students will critically assess these different views of phraseology and consider whether and to what extent they provide an alternative to the traditional ‘words and rules’ model of language.