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ALC8021 : Multimodal Communication

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Spencer Hazel
  • 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 introduces students to a range of approaches within Applied Linguistics and Cross Cultural Communication for understanding how multimodal communication works. This includes a focus on embodied conduct in social interaction, and the use of audio-visual resources in the production of cultural artefacts such as media texts. The module provides students with an understanding of the importance of communicative practices that exist ‘beyond the word’ in real life contexts. Students will be introduced to on-going research in the field, focusing specifically on multimodal analytic methods. We explore, for example, how these approaches are used for investigating patterns of gesture use in institutional settings such as the language classroom; how cultural groups develop different ways to express their group membership; and how media texts work through combinations of different types of semiotic resource.
The module draws on approaches used in the study of discourse such as micro-ethnography, semiotics, conversation analysis and discourse analysis, and covers specific theoretical discussions on language, culture and context; how to capture, categorise and analyse embodied social conduct; how to conduct multimodal interaction analysis; and how to analyse media communications such as film and advertising.
As the module progresses, students will have opportunities to carry out fieldwork, as well as guided analyses of case studies of different real world environments and materials. This will allow them to start explore ideas around, for example:
•       Patterns of embodied conduct and how these constitute people’s social world.
•       How people gesture in different ways according to what they are trying to achieve.
•       How members's bodies mirror, complement and contradict each other and what possible impact might this have on their communication.
•       How members conduct themselves differently in different cultural contexts.
•       How media messages are constructed, for example in advertising and film.

As part of their assignment, students will be given the opportunity to examine specific features of multimodal discourse, in order to answer similar lines of enquiry to those seen above.

•       To provide participants with an overview of human communicative practices from a multimodal perspective.
•       To enable participants to develop an awareness of human communication as a fully embodied activity in which language is used as one resource among many.
•       To promote an understanding of the importance of being sensitive to the ways through which social interaction is constituted, including in settings where there are reduced shared linguistic resources.
•       To facilitate an understanding of the methods through which embodied conduct in interaction can be investigated.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. Introductory session: Multimodal analysis as an applied science
2. Multimodal interaction and language research
3. Investigating social interaction as multimodal object of study
4. Classifying embodied action: Gesture
5. Semiotics & Communication
6. Multimodal discourse analysis
7. Multimodality and representations of reality
8. The body and its natural environment I – doing things with objects
9. The body and its natural environment II – the socially constructed body
10. Methodological procedures: carrying out case studies
11. Drop-in session

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials100:305:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture103:0030:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading120:0020:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery12:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study183:0083:00N/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 and personal reflections, and signal areas for individual further study and essential and further reading. Group activities are often linked to analysis of multimodal data and/or 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 log2A40Reflective Learning Log (1,500 words)
Essay2A60Essay - 2000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Study and data analysis skills, and other relevant knowledge and skills, will be assessed through the reflective learning log. Critical understanding of relevant theory will be assessed through the end of module analytic essay. This together will form a portfolio of work.

Reading Lists