Society and Language: Linguistics for Social Scientists

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Peter Skrandies TW3.6.01f


Available as an outside option to all undergraduate and General Course students. Students can take this course in any year of their studies following approval from the teacher responsible and subject to their own programme regulations.

Course content

The course will introduce students to key (socio)linguistic concepts (semantic and pragmatic meaning, discourse, register, genre, dialect, idiolect, sociolect) employed in the analysis of language use as a social process. Students will explore the reciprocal relationship between language and specific social contexts and structures (class, gender, ethnicity), and study the role that language plays in the creation, maintenance and change of social relations and institutions. Important themes are changing attitudes to language and the prestige afforded to particular languages and language varieties. The use of language for academic purposes will be analysed, as will be situations of language contact, multilingualism and the role of translation in intercultural and international communication. The implications and consequences for less widely used languages of the emergence of English (and other widely spoken languages) as global lingua francas will be outlined and discussed.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Two hours per week, featuring: (a) Lectures on a range of concepts and themes; (b) classes including students' presentations; (c) revision workshops; (d) tutorials. Structured activities will take place in week 11 of the Michaelmas and the Lent Term. 

Formative coursework

Short essays, linguistic analyses, presentations.

Indicative reading

  • Mesthrie, Rajend (ed) (2011) The Cambridge Handbook of Sociolinguistics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Meyerhoff, Miriam (2011). Introducing Sociolinguistics, 2nd edition, London: Routledge;
  • Mooney, Annabelle et al (2010). Language, Society and Power. An Introduction, 3rd edition, London: Routledge
  • Wardhaugh, Ronald (2010). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell 
  • Weber, Jean-Jacques & Kristine Horner (2012). Introducing Multilingualism. A Social Approach, Routledge: London 
  • Yule, George (2010). The Study of Language, 4th ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Wodak, Ruth et al (2011) The SAGE handbook of sociolinguistics, London: SAGE


Exam (60%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Project (30%, 4000 words) in the ST.
Presentation (10%, 500 words) in the MT.

Student performance results

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

Classification % of students
First 12
2:1 84
2:2 4
Third 0
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Language Studies

Total students 2015/16: 14

Average class size 2015/16: 14

Capped 2015/16: Yes (15)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication

Course survey results

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 57%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)