EL5013 - Language and Society

What will I learn on this module?

You will examine the social meaning of variation in language use and language perception through the critical evaluation of the main research themes in sociolinguistics. As such, you will pay particular attention to historical, contemporary and emerging empirical research investigating social and regional linguistic variation in the UK and elsewhere; the relationship between language and identity, language and ethnicity, age, gender and social class; the investigation and implications of public attitudes towards linguistic diversity, the conscious and unconscious linguistic choices speakers make in specific contexts, and the development and identification of speech communities; and stylistic variation in language use.

You will also pay particular attention to current issues and debates within the field, again in terms of the findings of key empirical research investigating socio-psychological and contextual perspectives to the study of sociolinguistics. Throughout the module, you will evaluate the many varied perspectives regarding the role of language in society which you encounter, and establish your own view of and position within these debates, developing your ability to present your own viewpoint, both in speech and in writing.

How will I learn on this module?

The module will be delivered through a combination of interactive lectures and seminars. Key themes and concepts will be introduced in lectures, supported by seminars that allow further group working, discussion and debate. All topics and debates within the module will be supported by reference to relevant literature, which you will read outwith class to further develop your knowledge and understanding of the field.

In addition to learning during taught hours with the module tutor, you will be expected to undertake both directed and independent learning. Directed learning generally will take the form of preparation for seminars where you will be expected to contribute to group work and full class discussion. Independent learning generally will take the form of further reading and investigation, the consolidation of seminar notes, and revision/preparation for the assessment of the module.

All learning materials, tasks and readings will be posted on the eLP (e-learning portal) to facilitate full participation in the module. Additionally, you will receive formative feedback from the module tutor, on an individual 500-word written essay summarising two key empirical article within sociolinguistics (see above), in preparation for the summative assessment. The module’s final, summative assessment will also provide an opportunity for learning.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The module aims to expand your critical understanding of different, and often competing, theoretical and empirical perspectives within sociolinguistics. Lectures, seminars and tasks will develop your academic knowledge and skills, to help you attain the module learning outcomes. Your academic development will also be facilitated through engagement with the academic literature and by talking with your peers and the module tutor about your understanding of this literature (i.e. reading around the topic, and discussing and reflecting upon what you have read).

The module handbook provides details of lectures, seminars, reading lists and assessment criteria; lecture materials are made available on the eLP (see above). The module tutor will be available in lectures and seminars, as well as in ‘Feedback and consultation hours’ (i.e. ‘office hours’) and on email, to discuss any queries or concerns you have about how to excel academically on the module. Formative feedback will be provided both throughout seminar/workshop activities. Written feedback will also be provided on your 500 word formative essay, due at the end of semester 1, synthesising the results of two important empirical studies in the field of sociolinguistics (chosen by the student), prior to completion of the module’s summative assessment (an essay).

In addition, you have a designated Guidance Tutor throughout the entire duration of your programme. The academic side of the Guidance Tutor’s role includes: monitoring your ongoing academic progress; helping you to develop self-reflection skills necessary for continuous academic development; directing you to further available services which can help them with their academic skills (e.g. Library’s Skills Plus). You are advised to meet with your Guidance Tutor at least twice each semester to review your academic progress.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Critically analyse sociolinguistic phenomena at the following levels: phonological; morpho-syntactic; lexical and pragmatic; and in relation to sociolinguistic theory
2. Discuss and critically apply key theoretical concepts to language in its sociolinguistic context, in relation to language variation and language change

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Critically evaluate historical, contemporary and emerging empirical research findings within sociolinguistic research, to begin to develop your own position within current sociolinguistic debates
4. Demonstrate the ability to communicate ideas and arguments (including your own) in speech and writing to persuade and argue, with an awareness of audience,

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Be a reflective learner who engages with feedback critically, and is open to new initiatives, most particularly within the field of sociolinguistics.

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment

1. You will present your ideas during seminars and will receive formative feedback from the module tutor and peers on any perspectives you share. Such formative will enable you to assess and form your own understanding of key issues and debates in sociolinguistics.
2. 500 word formative essay:
This formative assessment requires you to briefly discuss the main findings of two research articles from a prescribed list of sociolinguistic journals (1 of which must be discussed specifically in a previous seminars) You will evaluate the value of the findings in terms of sociolinguistic theory and/or sociolinguistic methodology. You are expected to include the following details: background; research questions; methodology (participants, research instrument, and procedure); findings; and any implications of the findings. The completion of this essay will allow you to gain the experience of synthesising research results in sociolinguistics and of critically evaluating how such findings help build sociolinguistic theory, both essential for successful completion of the summative essay. You will be provided with individual written feedback by the module tutor.

Summative (graded) Assessments
1. 3,000-word academic essay
You will write an essay in response to a set of questions provided by the module tutor. You will be expected to demonstrate a clear narrative in relation to current issues and debates and important empirical research findings in sociolinguistics.
The essay assessment will be part of the learning process, and addresses all five MLOS.

Feedback will be provided using the Programme template and comments on the script.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code Q310

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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