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Language Variation & Change - LAN00019M

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. George Bailey
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

This module is a broad introduction to sociolinguistics, with a focus on fundamental concepts and approaches involved in the study of the links between language and society. You will learn about the main ways of describing language variation, conceived primarily as variation within a single language in a speech community (e.g. social, geographical and stylistic differences in spoken English). The close parallels between this type of variation and the use of two or more languages (bilingualism) will be drawn.

Module learning outcomes

The lectures will present material, pausing to encourage discussion as well as doing mini-tasks.

The seminars will comprise, in different weeks, further points for discussion and the presentation and discussion of set articles.

We also consider the roles of a number of concepts, such as society, social class and gender, all in the context of the speech community. The methods used in sociolinguistics, particularly language variation and change, will be introduced, and a number of key areas of the discipline will provide examples of links between linguistic and social concerns, include language 'death' and language shift. You will explore the distinction between sociolinguistics as a 'way of doing linguistics' and as a field with primarily sociological concerns.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written feedback within 20 working days.

Indicative reading

Meyerhoff, Miriam (2007). Introducing sociolinguistics. Abingdon: Routledge.

Mesthrie, R., Swann, J., Deumert, A., & Leap, W. (2009) (2nd edition). Introducing sociolinguistics. Edinburgh University Press.

Chambers, J.K. (2002). Sociolinguistic theory: linguistic variation and its social significance (2nd edition). Oxford: Blackwell.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.