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ALC8002 : Sociolinguistics

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Judith Reynolds
  • Owning School: Education, Communication & Language Sci
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module explores sociolinguistics, a diverse field of research concerned with the study of the relationship between language and society. The people we are, and the communities and societies we inhabit, shape and are themselves shaped by our use of language. Broadly, the module is concerned with variation in the use of language and its social implications. This includes how people’s use of language is relevant to their memberships of social groups at the micro-level, how examining patterns of language use within societies or communities can support a deeper understanding of these broader social structures at the macro-level, and what are the social implications and applications of such knowledge about language use. The module introduces key concepts and topics relevant to the study of language use and variation in different social contexts, drawing on theory and practice from the diverse field of sociolinguistics.

The aims of the module are to enable students to:
1.       understand and critically engage with key concepts in the study of language and society,
2.       recognize different forms of linguistic variation, and interrogate how they relate to social structures of different kinds and/or to stylistic and situational factors,
3.       explain and critique research on linguistic variation in a range of social contexts, and
4.       apply theories and concepts in sociolinguistics to critically examine their own experiences of language use in social contexts.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will cover a selection of key topics in sociolinguistics that are of importance for understanding the development of the field and its current relevance, such as:

1. notions of language, dialect, accent and standard
2. linguistic variation: relationships between linguistic and extra-linguistic variables (e.g. age, class, gender, social networks)
3. stylistic variation: relationships between language use and variables such as topic, setting
4. attitudes to language, and the notion of 'acceptability'
5. language policy and planning
6. different types of linguistic community
7. the impact of globalization and mobility on sociolinguistic theory

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading130:0030:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities111:0011:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery12:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study187:0087:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures provide an introduction to the weekly content, establish a basic level of understanding of the topic, provide opportunities for discussion, group activities and personal reflections, and signal areas for individual further study and essential and further reading. Group activities are often linked to pre-class weekly reading

Structured Guided Learning activities provide students with weekly opportunities to consolidate learning through guided tasks linked to the weekly topic.

Independent study will enable wider reading, further personal self-reflection and assignment preparation.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Reflective log2M40Research blog post and reflection - 1,500 words
Essay2A60Critical Essay - 2000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The research blog post assessment will assess both students' understanding of a piece of sociolinguistic research (in terms of the theories and concepts used, the research methods involved, and the outcomes), and their ability to explain sociolinguistic research and present sociolinguistic information to a general audience. The critical essay (60%, end of the module) is a more traditional academic essay which will assess students' holistic understanding of the whole course content and their critical thinking and academic writing skills.

Reading Lists