Conversation and Social Interaction

The details
Language and Linguistics
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
25 April 2024


Requisites for this module



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),
BA QP13 English Language with Media Communication (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

Starting with a consideration of a wide range of interactional conduct, we explore how it is nevertheless possible, in the face of such variety, to make systematic interpretations based on our knowledge of conversational structure and standard assumptions of moral accountability in social life. The normative structures of the mainstream conversation analytic tradition will be examined. By looking ordinary conversation in a range of contexts, we shall investigate how actions are performed, identities constructed and context achieved through talk. We shall then consider how conduct which transcends the verbal (such as gaze and gesture) contributes to our presentation of ourselves in interaction with others; and finally we explore the relationship between grammar and interaction. The syllabus will cover:
* accountability in conversation
* the conversational sequence
* generic structures of conversation
* grammar and interaction
* constructing identity
* formulations in conversation
* the audience as co-author
* gaze and gesture in interaction

Module aims

The module aims to introduce you to the study of conversation and familiarise you with the theories, concerns and methods of various current approaches to spoken interaction. It also aims to explore the relation of verbal to non-verbal conduct.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, you will:
• Be familiar with the theories, concerns and methods of the mainstream conversation analytic tradition in its approach to spoken interaction
• Be able to bring to bear a range of conceptual and analytical tools on the data of naturally-occurring talk
• Be able to transcribe naturally occurring talk to the appropriate level of analytical detail
• Be familiar with the means by which participants construct identities through talk
• Be familiar with the means by which gaze and body movement interact with the production of language
• Be able to undertake your own investigation of an aspect of conversational organisation, using appropriate methods for the collection, transcription and analysis of data

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Two-hour lecture/seminar per week, with audio and video data to analyse


  • Clift, Rebecca. (2005-11) 'Discovering order', in Lingua. vol. 115 (11) , pp.1641-1665
  • Clift, Rebecca. (2014-10-02) 'Visible Deflation: Embodiment and Emotion in Interaction', in Research on Language and Social Interaction. vol. 47 (4) , pp.380-403
  • Schegloff, Emanuel A. (2007) Sequence organization in interaction: a primer in conversation analysis I, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Clift, Rebecca. (2016) Conversation analysis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. vol. Cambridge textbooks in linguistics
  • Schegloff, E.A. (1972) 'Notes on a conversational practice: formulating place', in Language and social context: selected readings, Harmondsworth: Penguin. vol. Penguin education
  • John Heritage and Geoffrey Raymond. (2005) 'The Terms of Agreement: Indexing Epistemic Authority and Subordination in Talk-in-Interaction', in Social Psychology Quarterly: American Sociological Association. vol. 68 (1) , pp.15-38
  • Clift, R.; Drew, P.; Hutchby, I. (c2009) 'Conversation Analysis', in The pragmatics of interaction, Philadelphia: John Benjamins Pub. Company. vol. Handbook of pragmatics highlights, 1877-654X, pp.40-54
  • Heritage, John. (1984) Garfinkel and ethnomethodology, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Goodwin, C. (2007-01-01) 'Participation, stance and affect in the organization of activities', in Discourse & Society. vol. 18 (1) , pp.53-73
  • Sidnell, Jack. (2010) Conversation analysis: an introduction, Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. vol. Language in society
  • Schegloff, E. A. (1997-04-01) 'Whose Text? Whose Context?', in Discourse & Society. vol. 8 (2) , pp.165-187

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   Moodle Quiz     20% 
Coursework   Essay    80% 

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 Rebecca Clift, email: rclift@essex.ac.uk.
Dr. Rebecca Clift
Dr. R. Clift, Office: 4.332, Tel: 01206 872888, email: rclift@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Mr Conrad Hechter Heyns
Goldsmiths, University of London
Director - Centre for Academic Language and Literacies
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Language and Linguistics

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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