Accessibility statement

Language, behaviour and the social mind



The module aims to expose students to the socio-psychological underpinnings of sociolinguistics, particularly those relating to style, behaviour and social influences. Students will be introduced to methodologies used in social psychology so that they may understand their application to language questions. Lectures cover important historical works in social psychology and sociolinguistics, draw connections between the two, and present modern theoretical and methodological issues facing the field. Students are encouraged to link knowledge they acquire in this module to previous knowledge gained in sociolinguistics, and to be able to formulate their own research proposals and design experimental ways to answer socially informed language issues, such as “Does hearing a female voice influence your opinions on gender issues?”

This module will be capped at 35.



Students must have successfully completed at least ONE of:

  • L09C Introduction to phonetics & phonology
  • L10C Introduction to sociolinguistics

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

One hour lecture and two hours of seminars per week.

Teaching programme

Classes will be in lecture/seminar format. Lectures will introduce students to key concepts, methodologies and debates, and these will be further discussed in seminars. Some seminars will also have a practical component, giving students the tools they need to design and execute small research projects.

Teaching materials

Readings will be journal based.

Assessment and feedback

Assessment and feedback

Feedback on formative work

  • There will be two short exercises that should familiarise students with the required writing, argumentation and analytical skills. These will be marked and peer-discussed.

Assessment and feedback

  • A group-based Research Project (group assessed)
    • Length: 3000 words
    • Weight: 30%
    • Feedback: mark on university scale, and written comments available during Summer Term.
  • Individual oral interview (related to group experiment)
    • Weight: 10%
  • Fortnightly logs (related to group work)
    • Weight: 10%
  • Two-hour closed examination
    • Weight: 50%
    • 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.

You will learn to critically read journal texts in both linguistics and psychology, and be able to suggest flaws, areas for improvement, or theoretical stumbling blocks. You will work in small groups to think about, design and execute a short research project. In doing this, you will learn basics of experimental design, data analysis and scientific report writing. A large part of this course will involve lively discussion in seminar groups, and this should strengthen your argument and critical thinking skills and also your public speaking experience.

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

About this module

  • Module name
    Language, behaviour and the social mind
  • Course code
    L58H (LAN00058H)
  • Teachers
    Andrew Euan MacFarlane 
  • Term(s) taught
  • Credits