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SEL8163 : Language and Society

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Daniel Duncan
  • Lecturer: Dr Adam Mearns, Professor Karen Corrigan
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

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

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module provides an introduction to the linguistic subfield of sociolinguistics, with particular emphasis on how this relates to the English language. It introduces this domain of linguistics from two perspectives:
•Microsociolinguistics, the study of language variation and change at the level of individuals, groups, and communities. With particular emphasis on the framework of variationist sociolinguistics, the module explores how linguistic variation is influenced by societal factors like social class and ethnicity.
•Macrosociolinguistics, the study of language at the societal level. With particular emphasis on the sociology of language, the module explores how society shapes broader linguistic outcomes like language maintenance or shift, language endangerment, and the development of pidgins and creoles.
This module develops data analysis skills in two ways:
•It gives hands-on experience in sociolinguistic fieldwork techniques, with particular emphasis on the sociolinguistic interview, as well as coding and analyzing sociolinguistic data.
•It further develops quantitative reasoning skills by adding basic inferential statistics to the analytical toolkit and exploring how these are used to refine and test linguistic hypotheses.

Outline Of Syllabus

Two major themes are addressed:
•Language variation and change within individuals and speech communities
•Societal influences on and attitudes toward language status
Specific topics include:
•The variationist paradigm
•Key patterns of language-external influences on language variation and change
•Sociolinguistic fieldwork methods
•Language attitudes and ideologies
•Outcomes of language contact

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion164:0064:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1103:00103:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Rationale and Relationship to Learning Outcomes

Lectures will be used, primarily, to impart information and provide overall coherence for the module.

Seminars will be used, primarily, to build skills in linguistic analysis and will, therefore, focus on problem-solving/numeracy. They also aim to enhance interpretation of sociolinguistic approaches to language and society, improve oral presentation and build team-work. Fieldwork projects will also be planned and developed in seminars.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1A80Quantitative and qualitative research write-up, 3,500 words
Reflective log1M20Sociolinguistic interview and reflection, 500 words
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Prob solv exercises1MN/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

1. Problem solving exercises prepare students for the quantitative analysis part of the Portfolio.
2. The Reflective Log Assignment gives students hands-on experience in ethically collecting Tyneside or Northumbrian English data.
3. The Portfolio assesses both quantitative and qualitative data analysis skills.

Since this is primarily an information-led module at PG level, the most suitable method of assessment is by means of submitted work testing independent learning ability as well as written communication skills; analytical/problem solving skills; critical thinking/conceptual understanding/knowledge and ability to construct a logical argument.

Reading Lists