Accessibility statement

Language & discrimination



This module will give students an in-depth introduction to the ways in which language issues may become factors in situations of discrimination. Students will be shown that linguistic features may become involved in either side of a discriminatory situation, being used either to support or subvert systems of discrimination. Students will be guided in discussions which explore how language and discrimination can be linked in both familiar and unfamiliar cultural scenarios, making use of real world examples.

Learning outcomes

In this module, students will learn to:

  • understand and use key terminology and concepts used to discuss issues of language and discrimination
  • develop an appreciation for the sensitive relationship between language use and social interaction
  • objectively evaluate the role of language in situations of discrimination
  • think and speak critically about the ways in which linguistic phenomena may interact with social issues
  • examine and discuss the relationship between language and discrimination in novel social situations

This module will be capped at 35.



Students must have successfully completed one of the following:

  • L09C Introduction to phonetics and phonology (LAN00009C)
  • E01C Structure of English (LAN00001C)
  • L10C Introduction to sociolinguistic variation and change (LAN00010C)
  • L11C Introduction to syntax (LAN00011C)

Information for visiting students: The teaching of this module assumes that students will have foundational knowledge of linguistic theory, and a comfortable understanding of the common concepts and terminology of linguistic study. A basic understanding of sociolinguistics, in particular the ways in which language can interact with social systems, is a bonus.



Contact hours

You will attend one hour of lecture and two hours of seminar each week.

Teaching programme

This module will consist of some lecture content, and some seminar-style discussion sessions. Whenever possible, students will be split into small groups to discuss course content, which will then be brought back into the larger group discussion.

Teaching materials

  • Lippi-Green, English With An Accent (1997)
  • Cameron, Verbal Hygiene (2005)

Assessment and feedback

Assessment and feedback

Formative assessment and feedback

  • Students will be asked to submit a 500-word essay proposal
  • The module will be largely modelled around guided discussion of the key issues and concepts, by which students will receive regular feedback on their developing understanding of the course content. Students will receive written feedback on an essay proposal by the end of week 8, which will give them individual guidance on the progress of their final essay.

Summative assessment and feedback

  • A 3000-word essay
    • Due: Spring Term, Week 1
    • Weight: 100%


Transferable skills developed in this module

All modules provide an opportunity to work on general oral/written communication skills (in class and in assessments) and general self management (organising your studies), alongside the specific skills in language or linguistics that the module teaches.

In addition, this module will allow you to particularly develop skills in written communication and social and intercultural awareness. The module is assessed by means of an essay which you will develop over the course of the module. Through this project you will gain skills in communicating appropriate evidence and argumentation in defence of your own hypothesis. The ability to write clearly and persuasively will give you an advantage in any workplace setting. The module will also explore social perceptions of language use, and you will learn how to think critically and objectively about how a variety of linguistic phenomena may become involved in issues of discrimination. You will gain a sensitivity to concealed social cues which will put you at an advantage in your future work.

Follow this link to hear how past students use transferable skills from their degree in their current jobs.

About this module

  • Module name
    Language and discrimination
  • Course code
    E/L50H (LAN00050H)
  • Teacher
    Caitlin Light
  • Term(s) taught
  • Credits