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Language studies

Overview 

Although the School does not offer full degrees in languages, the LSE Language Centre runs a successful programme of degree options. You can take an option outside your department in most undergraduate degrees, but please consult your programme regulations for precise details.

The options offered are:

  • English Literature and Society
  • Comparative Literature and Society
  • Contemporary Literature and Global Society
  • European Literature and Society
  • Linguistics for Social Scientists 
  • French Language and Society 
  • German Language and Society 
  • Mandarin Language and Society 
  • Russian Language and Society
  • Spanish Language and Society

Features of LSE courses

The study of language, literature or linguistics is placed firmly within the context of society, economics and politics.

All courses relate language study to the field of interest of social science students using a variety of written and audio sources.

  • In English Literature and Society, you are introduced to key authors and literary movements in relation to the twentieth century. You develop an analytical approach to literature and an appreciation of the relevance of its relationship to social developments and political events
  • Comparative Literature and Society studies twentieth century world literature in its socio-political context, thereby expanding on the range of themes studied in English Literature and Society
  • Contemporary Literature and Global Society studies world literature in the context of modern globalised society
  • European Literature and Society studies twentieth century European literature in the context of major trends in politics and philosophy
  • Society and Language, will introduce you to key (socio)linguistic concepts like semantic and pragmatic meaning, discourse, register, genre and dialect
  • In French, German, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish Language and Society, you continue to consolidate your existing language skills, and develop not only linguistic competence in your chosen language, but an ability to use language to explore issues relating to these societies

Many students enter at an advanced level of language competence of A level or equivalent. Depending on your main degree course options and linguistic ability you can progress through a maximum of three years of study by taking Language and Society Three, Four and Five. However, if you are an absolute beginner, or if you have a GCSE or equivalent experience in a relevant language, you may be eligible to take either Language and Society One, or Language and Society Two. In this case you should be willing to commit yourself to two or three years of study, with the aim of completing Language and Society Three in your second or third year of study. 

Students who follow any of these options will make gains that are not just language related. You will develop additional transferable skills, eg, time management, presentation and organisational skills, team work, which will not only support your main course of study, but will also further enhance your future employment prospects.

Degree option structure

You can take an option outside your department in most undergraduate degrees, but please consult your programme regulations for precise details.

English Literature and Society

Course requirements: A level or equivalent accreditation/level

Indicative content:

  • Study of twentieth century British literature in its socio-political context
  • Including topics: war, imperialism and feminism
  • Principal movements: modernism, political engagement (especially the Thirties) and post-modernism
  • Elements of style in prose, poetry and drama
  • Development of transferable skills through the design, management, presentation and discussion of an original research project (3,000 words)

Comparative Literature and Society

Course requirements: Although an A level pass or equivalent in literature is useful, it is not an absolute requirement

Indicative content:

  • Study of twentieth century World Literature in its socio-political context
  • Study of major cultural themes, eg, Fabianism; utopia/dystopia genre; art with a social function; Cold War, study of individual authors
  • Critical appreciation of literature and the elements of style in prose, poetry and drama
  • Extensive use of archive recordings of authors, and video; students encouraged to draw upon background in their main discipline
  • Development of transferable skills through the design, management, presentation and discussion of an original research project (3,000 words)

Contemporary Literature and Global Society

Course requirements: Although an A level pass or equivalent in literature is useful, it is not an absolute requirement

Indicative content:

  • Study of contemporary world literature in the context of modern globalised society
  • Study of major cultural themes, eg, cultural imperialism; art as an index of social change and its role in the media-driven society of the modern world; individualism and alienation in the post colonial and post-totalitarian context; study of individual authors with a global identity
  • Critical appreciation of literature and the elements of style in prose, poetry and drama
  • Extensive use of archive recordings of authors, and video; students encouraged to draw upon background in their main discipline
  • Development of transferable skills through the design, management, presentation and discussion of an original research project (3,000 words)

European Literature and Society

Course requirements: Although an A level pass or equivalent in literature is useful, it is not an absolute requirement

Indicative content:

  • Study of European twentieth century literature in the context of major trends in politics and philosophy
  • Study of the major trends in modern philosophy in the context of cultural themes, eg, existentialism seen in the context of mid-century totalitarianism and modern media-driven society; the themes of alienation and identity in twentieth century literature in a European context
  • Critical appreciation of literature and the elements of style in prose, poetry and drama
  • Extensive use of archive recordings of authors, and video; students encouraged to draw upon background in their main discipline
  • Assessment by final examination and extended coursework essay (3,000 words)

Society and Language: Linguistics for Social Scientists

Indicative content:

  • Introduces key (socio)linguistic concepts like semantic and pragmatic meaning, discourse, register, genre and dialect
  • Explore the reciprocal relationship between language and specific social contexts and structures (class, gender, ethnicity)
  • Study the role that language plays in the creation, maintenance and change of social relations and institutions
  • This option gives students the opportunity to explore and apply (socio)linguistic theories and concepts developed to explore the links between social contexts and language use
  • Assessment by final examination and extended coursework essay (3,000 words)

French, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish Language and Society One (Beginners)

Indicative content:

  • Beginners to intermediate study of the target language, performing a variety of linguistic tasks in a range of factual and expressive contexts with reference to culture and society, eg major cities, leisure and work, education and careers
  • Interpreting documents and data containing some elementary topical facts and figures
  • Building up grammar and vocabulary skills relevant to the communicative objectives
  • Working on transferable skills through the management of a course portfolio and the delivery of oral presentations

French, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish Language and Society Two (Intermediate)

A bridge to advanced study of language and society:

  • Discussion of issues that are essential for contemporary society (work and business, cultural aspects, youth problems, media)
  • Interpretation of documents and data containing a variety of topical facts and figures (newspaper articles, TV news)
  • Practice of grammar, summary, translation and essay writing
  • Development of transferable skills through the management of a course portfolio and the delivery of oral presentations

French, German, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish Language and Society Three (Advanced)

Course requirements: Good pass at A level or equivalent in the target language

Indicative content:

  • Post A level study of language and society, practising all four skills: speaking, writing, reading and listening within set topics and tasks
  • Introduction of key issues, eg, racism, bilingualism, radicalism, from a multilingual/multicultural perspective
  • Study of key historical events
  • Practice of grammar, summary and translation skills
  • Development of transferable skills through the management of a course portfolio and the delivery of oral presentations

French, German, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish Language and Society Four (Proficiency)

Course requirements: completion of Language and Society. Three or equivalent accreditation/level

Indicative content:

  • Advanced study of the target language and society, practising all four skills: speaking, writing, reading and listening within set topics and individual student project work
  • In-depth study of contemporary topics, eg globalisation, European integration, foreign policy
  • Practice of summary and translation skills based on specialised documents
  • Development of transferable skills through the design, management, presentation and discussion of an original research project (2,500 words)

French, Mandarin and Spanish Language Society Five (Mastery)

Course requirements: completion of Language and Society four or equivalent accreditation/level

Indicative content:

  • Further advanced study of the target language and society, practising all four skills: speaking, writing, reading and listening within set topics and individual student project work
  • Study key texts/works with an appreciation of gender, social, political or philosophical issues in the target societies. Taking samples from relevant artists, writers and thinkers
  • Development of transferable skills through the design, management, presentation and discussion of an original research project (4,500 words)

Teaching and assessment

All students benefit from a set number of weekly teacher contact hours on our courses. For example, in Language and Society One: six hours, Language and Society Two: five hours, Language and Society Three: four hours, Language and Society Four: three hours, Language and Society Five: two hours. Literature and Linguistic options involve two weekly contact hours. Teaching is supplemented by directed study and the Virtual Learning Environment at LSE. Students will be assessed by a final examination and some continuous assessment.

Further details and other information on our other language programmes can be downloaded from the Language Centre|.

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