Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module QXL-3376:
Cognitive Discourse Analysis

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

What goes on in people's minds when they consider a problem or decision, and how do they think about what they perceive in the world? In this module, students will learn to use linguistic analysis methods in order to address human thoughts and thought processes. CODA (Cognitive Discourse Analysis) is a recently developed methodology that will soon be published as a textbook by Cambridge University Press. The method applies insights from cognitive linguistics to analyse the linguistic choices that people make, for instance when they describe a scene or event, or when they 'think aloud' while they solve a problem.

One area in which this method has been applied widely is spatial cognition, an interdisciplinary research field that addresses how we understand and cognitively represent our spatial surroundings. This starts from the many meanings of 'left' and 'right' (depending on perspective and other concepts that typically remain implicit) and further relates to many issues of practical relevance in everyday life: wayfinding, scene description, object perception and reference, furniture assembly, architectural design, and many more. This module will draw on practical examples from this research area to illustrate the general approach.

Course content

The module will start by considering what kinds of thoughts, concepts, and cognitive processes can be accessed through language, and then discuss each step of a research process that involves verbalisation of thought: from identifying a suitable research question via data collection and transcription to analysis, interpretation, and triangulation with other kinds of data. The main emphasis will lie on the systematic analysis of linguistic choices, aiming to identify indicators for specific cognitive phenomena that are of interest for the research purpose at hand: such as attention and perspective, granularity, certainty etc., to be covered in the second half of this module.

While lectures will provide the theoretical and conceptual foundations needed for doing CODA, the tutorials will be used for discussion and exercises as appropriate for each step of the analysis procedure.

The following topics will be covered:
1. Introduction: Background and scope 2. Language as a representation of thought (across disciplines) 3. Analysis Resources 1: Cognitive Linguistics 4. Analysis Resources 2: Discourse Analysis and Functional Grammar 5. CODA Procedures 1: Research questions, experimental design, data elicitation and preparation 6. CODA Procedures 2: Practical steps of data analysis, qualitative insights and quantitative patterns 7. Identifying Cognitive Orientation: Attention and Perspective 8. Identifying Cognitive Depth: Granularity and Certainty 9. Identifying Cognitive Constructiveness: Inference and Transformation 10. Using Language to Convey Thoughts: Communication and Cognitive Strategies 11. Beyond CODA: Triangulation and practical purposes

Assessment Criteria


The assessments need to be relevant to the task.
The assessments must show a basic knowledge and understanding of the relevant key areas and principles of Cognitive Discourse Analysis.
The student must show evidence of being able to apply the principles to the analysis of language and linguistic examples and/or data.
The assessments must show evidence of some background study.


The assessments must be focussed and structured.
The assessments must show a better-than-average standard of knowledge and understanding of the relevant aspects of Cognitive Discourse Analysis.
The linguistic analyses given in the assessments must be adequate to the task area, systematic, and well motivated.
The assessments must show evidence of background study including primary sources.


The assessments must be highly focused and well-structured.
The assessments must show knowledge and understanding in interdisciplinary subject areas beyond core linguistics, relevant to Cognitive Discourse Analysis.
The assessments must show original interpretation, new links between topics and/or a new approach to a problem.
The assessments must show evidence of extensive background study using primary sources.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will know what kinds of issues can be addressed using Cognitive Discourse Analysis.

  2. Students will be able to identify linguistic analysis criteria and apply these through annotation procedures suitable for Cognitive Discourse Analysis.

  3. Students will understand the ways in which analysis results can be related to other findings.

  4. Students will be able to present results in a form adequate for this type of research.

  5. Students will be able to formulate suitable research questions in this domain.

  6. Students will understand how to collect data for the purposes of Cognitive Discourse Analysis.

  7. Students will be able to transcribe and prepare linguistic data for analysis purposes using basic software tools such as F4 and Excel.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ORAL Poster presentation

The electronic version of the poster and its oral presentation are used to report the student's own empirical study, carried out in the course of the module. The study itself will be evaluated, as well as the way it is presented in the poster and orally. The poster must reflect the motivation, procedure, analysis, results, and scientific discussion of the student's small research study. Each student will be asked to orally present their research, based on the poster, to the lecturer and further audience. This will include a brief summary by the student (ca. 2-3 minutes) followed by discussion, covering up to 10 minutes in total. This will be an opportunity for students to practise their poster presentation skills in a realistic conference-like setting.

WRITTEN PLAN Design outline

Design outline of a small research study to be undertaken by the student. This should include the motivation, procedure, and first ideas for analysis of the planned study.

COURSEWORK Data analysis

Analysis of a set of data provided by the lecturer.

The evaluation will assess the accuracy and depth of analysis following methods of Cognitive Discourse Analysis as covered in this module. A second criterion will concern the coherence and line of argument when reporting the results: Does the report convincingly reflect any substantial insights gained from the analysis?


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Directed Reading - students are given required reading each week (of about 2 hours) on the topic of that week's lecture.


Weekly 2 hour lecture (for 11 weeks)

Private study

In their own time, students will be expected to do further reading, go through materials covered in class and do further research on the topics, and prepare assignments.


Fortnightly seminar (5 over the 11 weeks).


Students are encouraged to see the lecturer on a one-to-one basis during published office hours (or by appointment) to discuss issues with the module content, seek clarification on topics and discussions, and discuss feedback on assessments and class exercises.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Problem solving - students will be able to evidence sophisticated problem-solving skills in formulating problems (factual, empirical, theoretical) in precise terms, identifying key issues, and developing the confidence to address challenging problems using a variety of different approaches
  • 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.
  • Personal organisation - students will develop the ability to undertake self-directed study and learning with appropriate time-management
  • Learning to learn - students will learn to reflect upon, modify and improve their learning strategies
  • Information technology - students will develop the ability to use computing and IT skills in order to find, store, interpret and present information, to produce a range of electronic documents and to use software confidently
  • 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
  • Working effectively with others - students will develop the ability to work well with others as part of a group or a team
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Knowledge of linguistic theory and application - students will demonstrate a detailed knowledge of terms, issues, principles, aspects and best practices related to the study of human language and linguistics.
  • 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.


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: