ALC8002 : Sociolinguistics

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


1. To introduce students to key topics in the study of language in society.
2. To enable students to appreciate the range of variation within 'normal' English.
3. To enable students to be aware of the relationships between language variation and social structure, and between language variation and various stylistic and situational factors.
4. To enable students to be aware of basic techniques for analysis of language variation.

This module explores different approaches to the study of the relationship between language and society. It introduces key concepts and topics relevant to the study of language use in different contexts, drawing on theory and practice from the diverse field of Sociolinguistics. 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 how people, as members of social groups, use language and what they use it for. The module considers research that focuses on language in interaction, and ways that sociolinguists have approached the study of this interaction. By the end of the module, students should have developed an understanding of the relationship between language and society and the ways in which language is used in different contexts. You should acquire an informed perspective about social differentiation, expressed through language; and acquire relevant skills to analyse language in social contexts. This should allow a deeper understanding of the relationships between language variation and social structures.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. notion of language, dialect, accent and standard
2. linguistic variation: quantitative analysis of linguistic and extra-linguistic variables (age, class, sex, social networks)
3. stylistic variation: topic, setting
4. politieness phenomena
5. attitudes to language, and the notion of 'acceptability'
6. language contact, different types of linguistic community.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching15:005:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork110:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1121:00121:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used to introduce key concepts and theories, backed up with seminars and tutorial focussing on reading of empirical studies. Students are required to undertake their data collection and analysis (fieldwork) to put knowledge into practice.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M70Individual essay, 2500 - 3000 words
Case study2M30Research Project Outline
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Essay provides the opportunity for students to apply knowledge learned in the course (key concepts, theories and methods) to a small-scale emprical study, undertaken as part of fieldwork.

Reading Lists