Accessibility statement

Language and identity



This course explores the role of language in the construction of identities and the significance of identity construction to language variation. The concept of identity is investigated on various levels, and the focus of the course is on how these multi-levelled identities are realised through the use of language.

A variety of quantitative and ethnographic language variation case studies will be surveyed in order to illustrate the issues under investigation.

This module will be capped at 35.



Students must have successfully completed:

  •  L10I Intermediate language variation and change

Information for visiting students: The teaching of this module assumes some knowledge of sociolinguistic theory and method. If students have not studied sociolinguistics in their home institution, this module may not be appropriate.



Contact hours

Two to three hours per week.

Teaching programme

Classes will be in lecture/seminar format. At the end of the Spring term, students will be expected to give group presentations.

We will investigate the significance for national and regional borders on linguistic behaviour, the notion of the speech community, global and local categories used in sociolinguistic studies, and the identification of individuals, both actual and stereotypical, through linguistic behaviour.

Teaching materials

  • Llamas, C. and Watt, D. (eds.) (2010) Language and Identities (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)

Suggestions for reading before the module starts

  • Benwell, B. and Stokoe, E. (eds.) (2006) Discourse and Identity (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)
  • Chambers, J. K. (2nd edition 2003) Sociolinguistic Theory: Linguistic Variation and its Social Significance (Oxford: Blackwell)
  • Dyer, J. (2007) Language and identity pp.101-108 in C. Llamas, L. Mullany and P. Stockwell (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Sociolinguistics (London: Routledge)
  • Edwards, J. (2009) Language and Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • Joseph, J. E. (2004) Language and Identity (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan)
  • Watt, D. and Llamas, C. (eds.) (2014) Language, Borders and Identity (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)

In addition, you could begin to read the module textbook. Reading some or all of it before the module starts will give you an excellent grounding.

Assessment and feedback

Assessment and feedback

Feedback on formative work

  • Short essay (critical review) peer assessed, using university scales and marking criteria and discussed in class.
  • Immediate oral comments on seminar exercises.

Assessment and feedback

  • Seminar presentation
    • Weight: 20%
    • Feedback: mark on university scale for group presentation, and written comments available by Week 1 of Summer Term.
  • Two-hour closed examination (Term 3, Weeks 5-7)
    • Weight: 80%
    • Feedback: mark on university scale available by Monday of Week 9 of Summer Term. Students will be entitled to see their exam script with comments made on it, under supervision, on an appointed date in Week 10 of Summer Term.


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 team working, as this module is assessed in part by means of a group presentation. You will have the opportunity to develop strategies for effective group working, and to grow in presenting yourself with confidence, both within and on behalf of a group. These are skills which are essential in most professional roles.

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 identity
  • Course code
    L18H (LAN00018H)
  • Teachers
    Carmen Llamas
    Dominic Watt
  • Term(s) taught
  • Credits