Year two modules

Compulsory modules

English Grammar 

(20 credits)

This module expands students’ core knowledge of grammar gained in first year. The chief goal is to familiarize students with the concepts and terminology used to describe the structure of English phrases and sentences and equip them with a critical understanding of the categories of grammar and their treatment in contemporary linguistics. You will learn to apply these concepts to the description of genuine texts at various levels of analysis. The module will first cover the basics of grammatical analysis such as clause structure, word classes and phrases before we touch upon more advanced topics addressing the limits of traditional grammar in its descriptive accuracy and its application to certain kinds of data. The material in this module will contribute directly to the independent research work to be conducted in your Dissertation or Language Investigation.

Research Skills 

(20 credits)

This module supports and prepares students to undertake extensive research projects in English language. It aims to expand students’ understanding of key areas within the study of English language, with emphasis on the methodologies and objectives of language-studies research. It provides students with opportunities to conduct independent research as a foundation for a dissertation or research project. Students are required to conduct both group and independent projects in which they collect and analyse data using appropriate models.

Example optional modules may include:

English Phonetics and Phonology

(20 credits) 

The module expands students' core linguistic knowledge gained at Level 1, especially in the areas of phonetics and phonology.  Topics covered will include pronunciation in continuous speech, allophonic variation, narrow phonetic transcription, English accents, accent prestige and vilification, the phoneme, stress and intonation, the syllable and morphophonology. Particular attention is given to logical categorisation of forms, accuracy and economy in description and the ability to research and evaluate relevant supporting information. Knowledge gained in this module should both support and provide inspiration for the independent research strand of the English Language programmes.


(20 credits)

This module looks at how language is represented and processed in the human mind. We examine experimental evidence and theoretical models of the different levels of language to understand how we access words and concepts, how we process words visually and auditorily, how we understand complex syntactic structures, how we plan and produce spoken language and how we can investigate the pragmatic aspects of language in use. The module focuses on an objective, data driven approach, where carefully designed language experiments are at the heart of our understanding. To support this we will spend time considering aspects of experimental design and analysis and students will take part in a lab session to experience a real language experiment for themselves. Broader topics on language development and language in the brain will also be introduced.


(20 credits)

This module explores the relationship between language and society, examining how variation in sound, syntax, morphology and lexis distribute 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), stigmatization and the significance of one's social networks and communities and how these facets of variation lead to large-scale changes in the English language. It builds on the knowledge introduced in the first year.

History of English Language 

(20 credits)

This course introduces students to the historical development of the English Language. It explores the language of literary and non-literary texts in English, produced at various stages of its development, in order to study the linguistic processes underlying the history of the language and the society behind that language. It considers how different aspects of English, including vocabulary, spelling and morphology, have been affected by social changes such as invasion, culture and technology and the difficulties encountered when trying to explore the language use of past societies based on limited written evidence. Students will be instructed in the use of research tools, such as historical corpora and lexicographic resources, for the exploration, analysis and description of language from a historical perspective.

Discourse Analysis

(20 credits) 

This module is about examining both written and spoken discourse in detail. We will look at a variety of discourse analysis frameworks and the typical kinds of texts and/or stretches of spoken language that they are used to analyse. For example, we will explore Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and its application to news reporting (e.g. how does the writer create a certain ‘version’ of events through language) and Conversation Analysis and its application to casual, everyday conversations (e.g. how do speakers know and indicate to others when a new speaker can take the floor? And how do they coordinate with each other to produce a smooth transition?). Most of the seminars are based on practical analysis of texts and transcripts selected from a variety of domains, accompanied by a set of relevant readings.

Lexical Semantics

(20 credits) 

This module introduces students to word semantics, the study of word meanings and how they are related to each other (homonymy, antonymy, synonymy etc.). The module will cover such topics as reference, semantic relations, frames, polysemy, connotation, historical semantic change and the application of these concepts to lexicography. After introducing these basic concepts the module will review different theoretical approaches such as “amodal” theories of meaning (which views meanings as combinations of abstract symbols), versus cognitive semantics (which considers meaning in relation to perceptual experience, cognition, and world knowledge). Towards the end the module will move toward cutting-edge research in the domain of lexical semantics, introducing computational approaches (LSA, vector-space models) and experimental research on the idea that meaning amounts to perceptual simulation.

Corpus Linguistics

(20 credits)

Corpus linguistics  - the computer-assisted analysis of very large databases (‘corpora’) of authentic language data - is now part of the basic methodology of almost all branches of modern linguistics. In this module students will learn how to use corpus analysis software to investigate a variety of existing spoken and written corpora and will also gain experience in building their own small corpora for analysis.