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Language Variation & Change - LAN00088M

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Carmen Llamas
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

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).

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

We will 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.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module you should:

  • Be able to apply a wide range of key sociolinguistic concepts to linguistic phenomena

  • Explain how language structure is related to language use, both at the societal level (e.g. correlations with gender) and individual level (e.g. code-switching)

  • Explain and evaluate methodological choices sociolinguists make in their research

  • Articulate the role of ideology (e.g. attitudes) and identity in language

Module content

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
Language Variation & Change: Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Language Variation & Change: Reassessment essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written feedback within 25 working days.

Indicative reading

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

Meyerhoff, Miriam (2018). Introducing Sociolinguistics (3rd edn.). Abingdon: Routledge.
Chambers, J. K. (2008). Sociolinguistic Theory. (3rd edn.). Oxford: Wiley-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.