Society and Language: Linguistics for Social Scientists

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Peter Skrandies PEL.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.  Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6 of MT and LT.

Formative coursework

Short essays, linguistic analyses, presentations.

Indicative reading

  • Edwards, John (2013). Sociolinguistics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Mesthrie, Rajend (ed) (2011) The Cambridge Handbook of Sociolinguistics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Meyerhoff, Miriam (2018). Introducing Sociolinguistics, 3rd ed., London: Routledge;
  • Mooney, Annabelle et al (2015). Language, Society and Power. An Introduction, 4th edition, London: Routledge
  • Wardhaugh, Ronald (2014). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, 7th ed., Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell 
  • Wodak, Ruth et al (2011) The SAGE Handbook of Sociolinguistics, London: SAGE
  • Yule, George (2016). The Study of Language, 6th ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Exam (60%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Coursework (40%).

The coursework consists of a sociolinguistic project which includes an oral presentation of the project (10%, 500 words) in the LT and a project essay  (30%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
First 21.7
2:1 69.6
2:2 8.7
Third 0
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Language Centre

Total students 2019/20: 3

Average class size 2019/20: 3

Capped 2019/20: Yes (15)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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