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The University of Southampton

LING6006 Language in Society

Module Overview

This module will introduce you to ways of exploring the reciprocal relationship between language and society from contemporary sociolinguistic perspectives.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • key concepts and terms used to describe language in use;
  • fundamental issues and problems related to the use of language in social contexts;
  • the scope and limitations of different theoretical approaches to sociolinguistics;
  • particular sociolinguistic situations or issues relevant to your professional interests;
  • key methodologies to explore the complex relationship between language and society.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • apply sociolinguistic knowledge in the analysis and interpretation of language (education) policy;
  • describe specific features of language in use employing appropriate terminology;
  • analyse and evaluate oral and written data from a variety of sources;
  • relate issues and questions encountered in the research literature to situations with which you are yourself familiar;
  • construct an argument on a sociolinguistic topic based on a synthesis of published research and an analysis of primary material.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • research a specific topic independently and with minimal guidance;
  • select and analyse appropriate texts and materials, and present them confidently and effectively to others with your own critical interpretation;
  • work effectively within a group;


The starting point for this module is the view that while it is possible to study linguistic forms (sounds, words, sentences etc) in isolation, the functions and use of language and languages can be analysed and understood only in relation to the social and political environment in which linguistic activity takes place. Indeed, the fundamental premise is that ‘language’ and ‘society’ are not independent entities, but rather exist in a necessarily reciprocal relationship. The module will engage with key notions of sociolinguistic inquiry and explore these notions in relation to concrete case studies. Each seminar is led by the students who need to organise activities to: - discuss theoretical key concepts (such as communicative competence, speech community, community of practice), and - apply these notions to and discuss them in relation to concrete examples.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - short introductory presentations by course tutors; - seminar discussions based on prepared reading and student group presentations. Learning activities include - carrying out prescribed reading tasks; - carrying out practical tasks; - conducting short empirical investigations; - assessing critically based-research artciles; - preparing individual and group presentations.

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Heller, M. & McElhinny, B. (2017). Language, Capitalism, Colonialism: Toward a Critical History. 

Holmes, J. (2013). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics: Learning About Language. 

Jaworski, A., & Coupland, N.  (2014). The discourse reader . 

Tustin, K (ed.) (2020). The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Ethnography. 

Mesthrie, R. (ed.) (2011). The Cambridge Handbook of Sociolinguistics. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Book review  (1000 words) 30%
Essay  (2000 words) 50%
Student presentation  (30 minutes) 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Book review 50%
Essay 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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