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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Durham Centre for Academic Development

LANG43115: Sociolinguistics

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2021/22


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • 1 Introduce students to key events and researchers in the evolution of sociolinguistics
  • 2 Introduce students to key terminology, theories and concepts in the field of Sociolinguistics
  • 3 Help students understand the relationship between society and language
  • 4 Help students discover their own personal language identities, attitudes and contexts
  • 5 Help students identify and critically evaluate the role of Sociolinguistics in language, policy, planning and education
  • 6 Help students critically evaluate and apply sociolinguistic research methods


  • We explore what is meant by Sociolinguistics and key research events and theories that contributed to its evolution. We examine research into language variation and its connection to identity and attitudes, focussing on the relationship between language and societal factors such as gender, race and class. You are encouraged to reflect on your own contexts to better comprehend personal sociolinguistic identities and attitudes. We also consider language change in this age of the Internet and globalisation, and the role of multilingualism. Impacts of language planning, policy and power on language use are examined through case studies. Throughout, we evaluate data collection and analysis methods to scaffold your own research project.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of key events and researchers and how they contributed to the evolution of Sociolinguistics
  • Knowledge of key theories underpinning research in the field of Sociolinguistics
  • Knowledge of key terminology from the field of Sociolinguistics
  • Understanding of the relationship between society and language
  • Understanding of personal language identities, attitudes and contexts
  • Understanding of policies and educational implications of sociolinguistic matters
  • Understanding of key research methods used in Sociolinguistics
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to apply key theories underpinning discussions and research in Sociolinguistics
  • Ability to employ key terminology and concepts in discussions, presentations and texts about matters related to Sociolinguistics
  • Ability to recognise how language use is affected by society
  • Ability to reflect on personal language identities and attitudes in individual contexts
  • Ability to critically evaluate policy and educational approaches affected by Sociolinguistics
  • Ability to critically evaluate and apply sociolinguistic research methods
  • Ability to carry out small-scale sociolinguistic data collection (fieldwork) and analysis
Key Skills:
  • Ability to communicate analysis and arguments clearly and in an appropriate style
  • Ability to reflect on and discuss key literature, research, the theories and concepts studied
  • Ability to critically evaluate and apply research methods
  • Ability to work both individually and collaboratively on activities and assessments
  • Ability to learn through traditional and digital approaches to education

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module will take a flipped approach to learning with key content and activities provided in advance of workshops. Short asynchronous videos will form an essential input for the module, accompanied by asynchronous recommended readings, online discussions and activities. This will allow students to become acquainted with new and complex terminology, concepts and theories at their own pace before discussing them in more depth in workshops. The workshops take a more practical approach, examining case studies, key research, data collection and analysis methods to prepare students to critically evaluate such methods and scaffold their own mini research project. Workshops allow students to explore their own sociolinguistic identities and attitudes through discussions and activities, encouraging them to reflect on how the concepts and theories studied apply to their own contexts. Workshops will be provided bi-weekly in the first 5 weeks before leaving students to conduct their own group research in the final 5 weeks. These sessions will be supported by group tutorials.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Online group tutorials 2 Weeks 7 and 9 30 minutes 1
Seminars/workshops 10 Weeks 1-5 2 hours 20
Fieldwork (without tutor) 5 Weeks 6-10 2 hours 10
Asynchronous reading, discussions and activities 10 Weekly 10 hours 119
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Contributions to asynchronous activities and discussions Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Contributions to weekly asynchronous activities and discussions n/a 100% No
Component: Group research presentation Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Group presentation of research 20 minutes 100% Yes
Component: Research report Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research report 2,000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Weekly asynchronous reflections and discussions with tutor feedback and peer feedback. Peer review of research design, data collection, analysis and findings. Tutor feedback on group presentation, which will inform the content of the research report.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University