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The University of Southampton

LING6045 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. NB: This module is a 5 ECTS version of the module LING6006 Language in Society, and should only be taken by students on MSc Social Research Methods.

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
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


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 will therefore be divided into: - one part discussing theoretical key concepts (such as communicative competence, speech community, community of practice), and - one part were these notions are applied to and discussed in relation to concrete examples.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - Tutor led seminars; - Student led workshops; - Virtual learning environment (Blackboard site); - Individual tutorials to support assignment/ project planning. Learning activities include - Extensive reading of assigned texts, in preparation for weekly seminars - Analysis of data and presentation of analyses, in workshop sessions - Individual assembly of bibliography and private study, in preparation for major written assignment.

Independent Study76
Total study time100

Resources & Reading list

Romaine, S. (2002). Language in Society. 

Hudson, R. (1996). Sociolinguistics. 

Wardhaugh, R. (1998). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. 

Mesthrie, R. et al (2000). Introducing Sociolinguistics. 

Holmes, J. (2012). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  ( words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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