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Module QXL-1113:
Language and Society

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Eirini Sanoudaki

Overall aims and purpose

This foundational module will introduce students to the core concepts and methods of sociolinguistics, the study of the relationship between language and society. The focus will be on English as it is used in many varieties across the world, but some consideration will also be made of the sociolinguistics of other languages, like Welsh.

Various social categories will be considered that determine variability (including socio-economic class, age, and gender), as well as the ways in which variability is reflected in the English language structurally (in terms of accent, dialect, register and style) and in usage (including issues of politeness, accommodation, and context).

The aims of this course are:
• To familiarise students with the fundamental concepts and terminology used in this important field of linguistics.
• To enable students to think critically about the role of language in society and be able to comment in an informed manner on approaches to this subject.
• To raise students’ awareness of linguistic differences and consider them along the lines identified in sociolinguistics.

Course content

Students will learn about topics such as the following:

  • Sociolinguistics as a field, and its relevant terminology;
  • Sociolinguistic variability - how people use language in various different ways, depending on their social background, the context of the language use, etc.;
  • Linguistic variables - what features of English grammar display variation in use?
  • Social variation - what aspects of a person's social background (including e.g. age, gender) influences their language use?
  • Regional variation - what dialectal variation is there in English (and other languages) and why?
  • Examples of sociolinguistic variation - students will learn about influential studies in the field and what researchers know about how English varies.
  • The sociolinguistics of Welsh. How does the sociolinguistic situation of a minority Celtic language like Welsh differ to that of a global and majority language like English? (No prior knowledge of Welsh is required!)

Assessment Criteria


Student has achieved the minimum acceptable standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all the learning outcomes. Student can demonstrate a minimum level of understanding of the basic concepts and be able to apply them to data with some degree of accuracy.


Student has achieved a better-than-average standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all learning outcomes, and has a clear and accurate understanding of concepts; ability to apply concepts to data critically and thoughtfully; evidence of wide reading and clear and accurate reference to source materials; free from misunderstanding and errors of content; free from irrelevant material.


Student has achieved a thorough standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all learning outcomes; or student has demonstrated an exceptional level of achievement in one or more learning outcomes together with a good overall standard: student has achieved a thorough understanding of the subject, both in terms of content and theory; student is able to apply concepts clearly and accurately; substantial evidence of critical and original thought and analysis; clear, logical argument; high level of communicative competence; free from irrelevant material and errors of spelling and punctuation; evidence of extensive reading beyond basic texts and clear and accurate references to source material.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will be able to give an account of sociolinguistic insights about linguistic variability in English

  2. Students will show a developing understanding of the role of the English language in society and comment in an informed manner on approaches to this subject

  3. Students will be able to specify linguistic, social/regional, and situational variables and differentiate clearly between them

  4. Students will show a developing understanding of some of the main areas of contemporary sociolinguistics

  5. Students will be able to demonstrate a developing familiarity with and an ability to use appropriately the specialist terminology associated with the subject

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Online exam on module contents 60
Analysis and Essay Assignment 40

Teaching and Learning Strategy


One 1 hour seminar per fortnight (5 over the 11 weeks) for discussion of issues from lectures, exercise tasks and brief presentation tasks; Seminars will include practical problem solving and analytical exercises via individual and group work.


One 2 hour lecture per week 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.


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.

Private study

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


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • 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
  • 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

Subject specific skills

  • 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.
  • Analysis & interpretation skills - students will be able to analyse, interpret data accurately, and 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 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.
  • Fluency, confidence and proficiency in the use of English -students will demonstrate their ability and proficiency to use and understand and instruct others in English in a range of academic and classroom contexts.
  • 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
  • Knowledge of the nature of language origins, change and use - students will demonstrate familiarity with phenomena and findings relating to the nature of language origins, the way language changes, and factors involved in and affecting language use.
  • Proficiency in the use of English in reading, writing, speaking and/or listening - students will demonstrate proficiency in their ability to use and understand English in a range of different contexts and via different media.


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: