Society and Language: Linguistics for Social Scientists

This information is for the 2022/23 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 seminars and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of seminars and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of seminars and 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Two hours per week, featuring: (a) Presentations on a range of concepts and themes; (b) classes including students' presentations; (c) revision workshops.  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
  • McConnell-Ginet, S., (2020). Words matter: Meaning and power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Mooney, Annabelle et al (2015). Language, Society and Power. An Introduction, 4th edition, London: Routledge
  • Ottenheimer, H. J., & Pine, J. M. (2018). The anthropology of language: an introduction to linguistic anthropology. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning. 
  • 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


Coursework (50%) in the LT and ST.
Take-home assessment (50%) in the ST.

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 (40%, 4000 words) in the ST.

The take-home assessment set during the summer exam period will have to be completed over a period of seven days.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
First 25
2:1 68.8
2:2 6.2
Third 0
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Language Centre

Total students 2021/22: 12

Average class size 2021/22: 12

Capped 2021/22: Yes (15)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

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