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Module QXL-4443:
Language and Communication

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof Thora Tenbrink

Overall aims and purpose

This module addresses how language is used for communication in various contexts and for various purposes. We will look at how speakers manage to get ideas across to others, what communication strategies they use, and what the challenges are in various everyday situations, professional and personal.

After discussing some theoretical models of linguistic communication, lectures will deal with common sources of communication problems, consider empirical methods of discourse analysis, and discuss diverse modes of communication (written, spoken, mediated, dialogic, task-based, etc.). Then lectures will turn to specific types of context selected according to students' preferences, such as scientific, political, journalistic, advertising, media, internet, family, casual, classroom, or other discourse, and identify some of the features and strategies typical for these communicative situations. Furthermore, students will be asked to give a brief presentation of chosen research relevant to their own choice during the lectures.

The tutorials will provide opportunities for practising discourse analysis methods, and for considering and discussing lecture content. Students will also be guided towards formulating an appropriate research question for their own project, and get a chance to discuss their progress in addressing it.

Course content

  1. Introduction: Communication and miscommunication in everyday life – and linguistic reasons for them
  2. Theories and models of communication
  3. Linguistic principles
  4. Methods of discourse analysis
  5. Modes of communication
  6. Contexts and areas of communication
  7. Public contexts (e.g., media, journalism, political, or scientific discourse)
  8. Communication in the internet
  9. Classroom discourse
  10. Casual contexts
  11. Intercultural communication

Assessment Criteria


C (50%):
The answer must address the question.
The answer must show a basic knowledge and understanding of the relevant key areas and principles of the foundational theories, constructs and methodologies of Linguistics.
The student must show evidence of being able to apply the principles to the analysis of language and linguistic examples and/or data.
The answer must show evidence of some background study.


The answer must be focussed and structured.
The answer must show a better-than-average standard of knowledge and understanding of the foundational theories, constructs and methodologies of Linguistics.
The linguistic examples used in the answer may be based upon examples from the literature but must also include original examples.
The answer must show evidence of background study with at least some from primary sources.


The answer must be highly focused and well-structured.
The answer must show comprehensive knowledge and detailed understanding.
The answer must show some original interpretation, new links between topics and/or a new approach to a problem. The answer must show evidence of extensive background study using primary sources.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will be able to demonstrate advanced understanding of the diversity of language used in different communication contexts.

  2. Students will be able to highlight systematic patterns of using language.

  3. Students will demonstrate confidence in discussing features of everyday language.

  4. Students will be able to conduct a piece of research drawing on any component presented in this module.

  5. Students will be able to deploy appropriate discourse analytic methods for specific types of language data.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ORAL Oral presentation

A graded 10-minute presentation, to be scheduled individually.

COURSEWORK Discourse analysis

This exercise aims at practising systematic analysis and reflecting on the different communication modes that are used in this module. Target word count: 1500 words.

REPORT Research question report

A written assignment of 2500 words (+/- 10%) that addresses a suitable research question relevant to the module topic using appropriate methods (including literature-based discussion).


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

In their own time, students will be expected to do required readings for each class, do further research/reading on the topics and prepare assignments.


Two lecture hours per week (over 11 teaching weeks), which will include lectures, in-class discussion, presentations and data analysis.


One 1-hour seminar/practical per fortnight (over 11 teaching weeks)


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Research skills - students will be able to undertake advanced independent research, involving formulating a research question, identifying and deploying appropriate linguistic methodology (theoretical or empirical), data collection techniques (experimental or field-based), as well as the selection and application of appropriate theoretical frameworks in order to adequately analyse and interpret data.
  • Writing & scholarly conventions - students will be able to present data, argumentation, findings and references in written form in keeping with the conventions current in language science and English language studies to an advanced standard.
  • Oral presentation skills & scholarly conventions - students will be able to present data, argumentation, findings and references in oral form in keeping with the conventions current in language science and English language studies, to an advanced level.
  • Analysis & interpretation skills - students will be able to analyse and interpret data accurately and to draw appropriate conclusions based on the application of appropriate analytic and theoretical frameworks available in linguistics and English language studies.
  • Evaluation & reflection - students will be able to critically evaluate to an advanced standard a particular position, viewpoint or argument in relation to a specific area of investigation. They will be able to reflect on the efficacy of a particular approach, practice or performance, and moderate these as a consequence in order to achieve specific goals.
  • Independent investigation - students will develop the ability to plan, design and execute a highly original and significant piece of research or inquiry, either independently or as a member of a team in order to discover a specific solution to an outstanding issue or question through searching out and synthesising written, visual and oral information. Students will also develop skills of independent investigation, including interacting with peers and participants/informants.
  • Learning to learn - students will learn to reflect upon, modify and improve their learning strategies
  • Effective communication - students will develop the ability to communicate effectively, appropriately and confidently, in a range of contexts, to different audience types, and making use of a range of supporting materials
  • Awareness of and appreciation for linguistic and cultural differences - students will develop an awareness of and an appreciation for the range and nature of linguistic and cultural diversity.
  • Understanding of the nature and organisation of language - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge of observations and findings relating to various aspects of linguistic phenomena and organization.
  • Knowledge of the relationship between language and society, culture, and/or embodied experience - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge of phenomena and findings relating to the complex interdependent relationship between language, society culture and/or embodied experience.
  • Knowledge of the nature of language origins, change and use - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge phenomena and findings relating to the nature of language origins, the way language changes, and factors involved in and affecting language use.


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: