The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
30 September 2020


Requisites for this module


LG222, LG353, LG374

Key module for

BA QP10 English Language with Media Communication,
BA QP11 English Language with Media Communication (Including Year Abroad),
BA QP12 English Language with Media Communication (Including Placement Year)

Module description

In this survey of the study of language and society, we look at how language is actually used, how people feel about it-- how the two are often opposed -- and how the structure of language interacts with both. We consider language as a resource to convey cultural and personal identity, and what it reveals of language attitudes and social structure -- and therefore of status and inequality in areas such as social class, gender, age, and ethnicity. We see how social identity illuminates variation in language, and learn about such topics as regional and social dialects, language variation and change, and multilingualism and code-switching

Module aims

To familiarise students with:
• the basic principles of sociolinguistics and language variation
• how different varieties and features of language spread, change or disappear
• the key findings of variationist sociolinguistics, examining language variation and the social, linguistic & contextual characteristics which help to shape it
• Issues in societal and individual multilingualism

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module you should have:
• Knowledge of the basic principles of sociolinguistic theory
• Ability to follow and contribute to discussions about language and society
• An informed view of why and how languages vary and change
• An appreciation of multilingualism as a vital resource
• Competence in reading and evaluating sociolinguistic research papers

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

2 hours per week - confirmed details will be announced at the start of the academic year.


  • Meyerhoff, Miriam. (2019) Introducing sociolinguistics, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Interactive IPA (phonetic symbol) Charts, http://www.yorku.ca/earmstro/ipa/
  • (no date) "A Place between Places": Language and Identities in a Border Town on JSTOR: Cambridge University Press.
  • Labov, William. (c1972) 'The social stratification of (r) in New York City department stores', in Sociolinguistic patterns, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. vol. Conduct and communication, pp.43-69
  • Chambers, J. K. (2009) Sociolinguistic theory: linguistic variation and its social significance, Chichester: WileyBlackwell. vol. Language in society
  • Mesthrie, Rajend. (c2009) Introducing sociolinguistics, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Cameron, Deborah. (2007-10-01) 'What Language Barrier?', in Guardian.
  • Chris Montgomery; Emma Moore. (Jul 06, 2017) Language and a Sense of Place: Cambridge University Press.
  • (no date) Why dat now?: Linguistic-anthropological contributions to the explanation of sociolinguistic icons and change - Woolard 2008.
  • Agha, Asif. (2003-7) 'The social life of cultural value', in Language & Communication. vol. 23 (3-4) , pp.231-273
  • Watt, Llamas, Docherty, Hall & Nycz. (no date) Language, Borders and Identity.
  • Cameron, Deborah. (2007-10-03) 'Back down to Earth', in Guardian.
  • Cameron, Deborah. (2007-10-02) 'Speak up, I can't hear you', in Guardian.
  • Labov, William. (2012) 'Chapter 3 of Dialect diversity in America: "Hidden diversity"', in Dialect diversity in America: the politics of language change, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. vol. Page-Barbour lectures for 2009
  • Labov, William. (2009) 'The social stratification of (r) in New York City department stores', in The new sociolinguistics reader, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan., pp.49-59
  • Torgersen, Eivind; Kerswill, Paul. (2004-02) 'Internal and external motivation in phonetic change: Dialect levelling outcomes for an English vowel shift', in Journal of Sociolinguistics. vol. 8 (1) , pp.23-53
  • Johnstone, Barbara; Andrus, Jennifer; Danielson, Andrew E. (2006-06) 'Mobility, Indexicality, and the Enregisterment of “Pittsburghese”', in Journal of English Linguistics. vol. 34 (2) , pp.77-104

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay/small project  29/01/2021   

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Amanda Cole, email: amanda.cole@essex.ac.uk.
Amanda Cole
Miss Amanda Cole (amanda.cole@essex.ac.uk)



External examiner

Dr Lynne Julie Cahill
University of Sussex
Available via Moodle
Of 701 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
701 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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