English Language and Linguistics module descriptions

  • As courses are reviewed regularly the module list you choose from may vary from that shown here.

  • Year 1

    Understanding Language: System and Use (compulsory in single and combined honours)
    You will be introduced to key concepts in the study of language as system and its use in contexts of communication. You will develop an understanding of language description and associated terminology and will be introduced to well-established frameworks for linguistic analysis in the areas of language as sound (phonetics and phonology), language as meaning (semantics) and language as structure (syntax).

    Introduction to Discourse Analysis (compulsory in single honours, recommended in combined honours)
    Areas for analysis include: general principles of Discourse Analysis, Conversation Analysis, Critical Language Studies, Forensic Linguistics, Intercultural Pragmatics and Multimodal Communication. You will be introduced both to the key theories of these sub-disciplines, as well as their relevance and application to real-world scenarios. 

    Sociolinguistics (compulsory in single and combined honours)
    Sociolinguistics explores the effect of society on the way language is used. The core research areas of language and society, language and variation, language and interaction, and language and culture are addressed. This module draws from studies on diglossia, bidialectism, multidialectism, bilingualism, multibilingualism, and plurilingualism while referring to a wide spectrum of geographic and linguistic contexts.

    Introduction to Applied Linguistics (compulsory in single honours, recommended in combined honours)
    This module will provide you with the basic tools, skills and concepts you need in order to study effectively the broad field of English Language and Communication in a university context. Each session will generally be shared between (a) critical consideration of the approach to applied linguistics presented in key readings, and (b) developing skill at the complex genre of academic writing.

    Language Acquisition (compulsory in single honours, recommended in combined honours)
    An introduction to the study of how we acquire language from the early processing of language to the role of child directed speech. You will explore the major debates in the field of language acquisition and development and your understanding of the linguistic evidence will be used to advance theories of language acquisition and development. 

    Creative Writing (Introduction) (recommended in single honours)
    The module offers a framework within which students can practice writing, develop their technical understanding of writing, and learn to analyse their own purposes, habits and processes as creative writers. Classes will be in workshop format; students will explore a range of approaches, traditions and techniques in fiction writing by means of practical writing exercises, discussions of students' work, critical analysis of the work of published writers and theoretical concepts underpinning writing practice. By the end of the course students will produce a portfolio of original creative writing and a critical study examining the aims and processes of their creative work.

    Understanding Communication (recommended in single and combined honours)
    This module focuses on communication as a form of social action, and examines how a range of factors - psychological, social, cultural, semiotic, etc - govern how we engage with one another to achieve our goals.
    Understanding Media (recommended in single and combined honours)
    This module introduces key concepts, theories and themes within the study of the media. You will investigate and critically reflect on different aspects of the media, and explore the impact of contemporary media technologies on individuals and society. 
    Understanding Culture (recommended in single honours)
    You will investigate and reflect critically on different aspects of culture, and examine the impact of contemporary culture on individuals and society. You will explore cultural artefacts, activities and events, and reflect on the relationship between culture and representation, identity and power. 

    World Literature (recommended in single honours)
    A study of modern and contemporary literature in varieties of English and in translation, from a diverse range of national and regional cultures. Two central aims of the module are 1) to explore the relationship between socio-cultural context and literary genre and form, and 2) to consider the developments, appropriations and re-formations of the English language across the world. Students will investigate semantic and other issues involved in literary translation and will develop knowledge and insight into diverse philosophies, religions, ideologies and cultural movements.

    Introduction to Magazine Publishing (top-up module in single honours)
    An introduction to UK magazine publishing business. You will examine the contemporary characteristics of the market and of a selection of specific magazines. You will also evaluate the job roles involved in the production process and address issues of editorial content and design.

    Year 2:

    Analysing English Language (Hallidayan linguistics) (compulsory in single and combined honours)
    This module looks to a Systemic-Functional model of linguistic description to provide a theoretical and analytical framework for the analysis of spoken and written texts. You will explore the systematic relationship between context and language through the analysis of spoken and written texts across a range of contexts.
    Research Methods English Language and Communication (compulsory in single honours, optional in combined honours)
    You will be provided with a broad training in quantitative and qualitative research methods and will  have the opportunity to familiarise yourself with various research tools and approaches as well as appropriate data analysis. Consideration will be given to ethical issues and the key concepts associated with different methodological paradigms

    Analysing Spoken Discourse (alternative compulsory for single honours, optional for combined honours)
    This module focuses on the theory and practice of analysing spoken language in communicative contexts. You will explore the nature of spoken language from sounds to interaction and show how we utilise these resources to construct meaning in context. We will draw on a Conversation Analysis model (CA) as a framework for analysing spoken interactions and develop understanding and skills in the application of techniques of description and analysis. We will take a broader perspective on the description of spoken language and look at interactions in institutional and social settings such as talk in the Media, Health Care and Law as well as a discussion of language and gender.

    Language, Culture and Globalization (alternative compulsory for single and combined honours)
    This module examines the ways in which language operates in local and global contexts as a means of sociocultural representation. It pursues a sociolinguistic and discourse approach to language to analyse the representation of sociocultural phenomena and to explore the globalisation of English as an international language. Topics include language and the sign, language and gender, language and politics, language and standardisation, globalisation discourses and linguistic imperialism. 

    Critical Linguistics: the Language of Power and Resistance (alternative compulsory for single and combined honours)
    Combines contemporary models of critical social theory with the techniques of discourse analysis in the study of media texts. Attention is given to the 'legitimate' interpretation of texts, and how power and dominant social ideologies are represented, embodied in and perpetuated through the reporting of current affairs and popular culture. Focus is on those movements of resistance, such as Carnival or Hip Hop culture, and how such subversion is embodied in language. You will explore the concepts and debates surrounding critical language studies and are taught how to apply these to the analysis of everyday, real-world texts.

    Language and the Mind (alternative compulsory for single honours, optional for combined honours)
    Explores the relationship between language and the mind. It aims to introduce students to central issues in Cognitive Linguistics and Psycholinguistics and to the methods which researchers use in carrying out research in these fields. Students will have the opportunity to draw on a number of topics including non-literal language processing, language development in infancy and early childhood, cognitive processing in reading, the neural bases of bilingualism, and cognitive processing of sign language. A number of empirical studies from a wide spectrum of geographic and linguistic contexts will be explored.

    Year 3:

    Subject to Discourse: Language and Literacies (compulsory for single honours, optional for combined honours)
    You will be encouraged to analyse texts that you engage with in your day-to-day life and to consider these in light of theories and analytical frameworks

    Research Project / Dissertation
     (compulsory for single honours, optional for combined honours)
    You will study, in depth, a chosen problem or issue, relevant to the field of English Language and Linguistics with an outcome of a dissertation of 8000-10000 words

    Optional modules in year 2 and 3 include:

    English Language Teaching to Adults
    This module provides an introduction to English language teaching theory and practice. If you complete this module you will have acquired essential subject knowledge and will be familiar with the principles of effective teaching. In addition you will have been introduced to a range of practical skills for teaching English to adult learners. Students who take this course are also eligible to apply to British Study Centres Oxford to complete the teaching practice component and acquire a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) which is recognised by Cambridge Assessment as a pre-service training qualification Please note that the cost of the teaching practice component of the CELTA qualification is in addition to the course fees. 
    Forensic Linguistics
    You will examine the concepts and procedures of forensic linguistic analysis. Forensic linguistics refers to the analytical study of texts which have crime and criminality as a central issue.  We will look at the influence and procedures of linguistic analysis on evidence and documentation in investigative criminal cases. Forensic linguistics has also been employed by government intelligence agencies around the world for the purposes of furthering national security. During the course of this module we will examine how forensic linguistics has been employed in these various contexts by considering some relevant examples of forensic linguistic investigation.
    Critical Media Literacies
    This module introduces participants to the critical analysis of media texts and their relationship with wider cultures and contexts of production. It develops concepts, theories and methods.

    Explore objectivist, constructivist and subjectivist theoretical approaches. You will consider key theoretical frameworks via the study of a range of classic and contemporary scholarship, to include:

    • Reading media texts: from the classic Hollywood archive to digital media
    • The media, commodity and identities
    • Ideology, hegemony and Marxist interpretative stances
    • Representation: gender, 'race' and class
    • Psychological interpretative approaches
    • The Gothic and cultural anxieties

    It will conclude with a synoptic approach to a case study text which students will analyse via one or more of the critical approaches they have encountered.

    Persuasive Communication
    Investigate how rhetorical strategies and techniques can be used both for understanding and solving cultural problems. Rhetorical practices in the wider and local social context can either blur or get to the bottom of these problems. You will explore genres and tools of rhetoric apt to produce social change, and will practice using these to encode persuasive messages, with an emphasis on messages that are clear, attractive, well-crafted and ethical. You will develop speaking and writing skills critical to your professional, civic and academic roles that take into account audience, message and genre. 
    Language and Identities
    Engage with the field of language and identity from an applied linguistics perspective. Exploring language and identity studies with a focus on the following dimensions of identity: social class, age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and religion. These identity categories will be examined in a variety of contexts, such as face-to-face and virtual interactions, oral and written communication, including media and classrooms. The module discussions will be based on a number of theoretical articles and empirical studies from a variety of contexts. 

    In addition, we will draw on ethical guidelines considered specifically for research on language and identity to collect and analyse interview data. In this way, the historical and theoretical discussions on issues of language and identity can be brought to life via issues that are personally relevant to the students.

    Intercultural Communication
    Ethnographic research methods and conceptualisations of the nature of inter- and intra-cultural identity and communication drawn from the philosophical foundations of Critical Theory, you will analyse your own cultural traditions and the normative frameworks associated with these. You are encouraged to engage with the ethical, imaginative and dialogic dimensions of your identity, and to develop sensitivity to seeing the world as others see it.

    Language Teaching: Learning and Creativity
    This module aims to develop a principled, research-informed and practice-based understanding of:

    • The language learner's needs and learning contexts.
    • Language learning/teaching approaches and the beliefs and values underlying these 
    • Theories of creativity inside and outside language learning contexts 
    • Pedagogic approaches to language 
    • Pedagogic approaches to the language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening 
    • Pedagogic approaches to learner creativity in language learning 
    • Teaching materials, course books, resources and tests and their impact on learning and teaching.

    Educational Sociolinguistics
    This module focuses on the utilisation of linguistic variation in education, and includes discussion of topics such as transnationalism, transmigration, and multilingual and multicultural development as they relate to education. A number of topics that are inherently connected to the overarching focus of the module include the use of appropriate pedagogies, language-teacher training, parental/community involvement for effective education, appropriate assessment of bilinguals, and language-education planning.

    Psycholinguistics is the study of language and the mind. Specifically, the module deals with:

    • the way infants acquire their first language
    • the way young and adult learners acquire a foreign language and the way they use this language 
    • the language skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening and the role of memory
    • conditions such as dyslexia and aphasia

    You will be introduced to the central issues in psycholinguistics and to the ways in which researchers carry out psycholinguistic work.

    Special Topics in English Language and Communication (Honours Component)      
    This module intends to offer students an opportunity to engage in depth with issues in Applied Linguistics that are the subject of current scholarly and popular interest. Conducted predominantly through student-led discussions and seminar or workshop sessions, it enables students to develop more fully their portfolio in the Research strand of the programme. The specific contents of the module will be selected yearly to match current open questions in the disciplinary context. They will provide a platform for research-led reflection on the state on the discipline, and on related contemporary issues of political, social and cultural significance. Students will engage with the readings through response papers and Socratic dialogue, as well as mutually assessing their seminar presentations.

    Independent Study
    This module involves largely self-directed study individual or group project work on a topic conducted under the supervision of the English Language & Communication Field. It applies the skills of enquiry, research, analysis and evaluation. Prior approval by the English Language & Communication Field and supervisor of an agreed programme of study, and an assessment schedule is required.

    This portfolio module is designed to contain a number of possible optional courses which will change from year to year as staffing, teaching interests and curriculum coherence dictate. The Level 5 Special Topic modules approach literary study through common study paradigms: period; theme; generic; and stylistic analysis. Each provides a range of options with a common disciplinary methodology to enable students to specialise in particular in areas of study. All options on this Stylistics Focus module will emerge from staff teaching and research specialisms and will offer students concentrated study on a more focused range of ideas and issues than are covered in the Alternative Compulsory core modules. 
    When selecting this module please see the module lead to discuss which topic option you will take.

    Work and community-related learning
    This module allows you to develop in relation to your awareness and understanding of the world of work and your future employability. You will reflect critically on learning gained from activities in work, community related and extra-curricular settings.

    The University will help you make contact with organisations, and you will arrange your placement on this module. Your placement can be in Oxford or in the surrounding area of Oxfordshire - students are responsible for their own travel and associated costs. Costs start from £15.99 for a 7-day weekly pass for Oxford and the surrounding area.
    As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the module list you choose from may vary from the one shown above.