menu

School of Languages Linguistics and Film

Linguistics menu

Modules we teach

In the tables below, you can browse descriptions of some of our main module offerings across our programmes. To see which modules are most relevant for a particular programme, please consult the outline structure for the programme you are interested in, as listed on the Programmes page.

Module TitleCodeLevelSemesterCreditsDescription
Language in the USALIN035Level 5 modules (Second year)Sem 215This module addresses language issues in the US, particularly language policy issues and related cultural attitudes. As we study official and unofficial language legislation in America, matters of language and identity, attitude, and discrimination will be explored. We will examine the 'official English' question, Native American language history, the Ebonics controversy, and issues concerning American Sign Language, the language of most Deaf Americans, among other issues. The relation to policy and government practice (including immigration exclusion acts and census language) will be noted. The module includes a review of the linguist's view of language, points about how language relates to society in general, and a brief history of language legislation since colonial times.
Explaining Grammatical StructureLIN037Level 5 modules (Second year)Sem 215Human languages are not just random sounds with associated meanings strung out one after the other in a kind of Tarzan-speak. Rather they involve complicated interactions between words which constrain order, inflectional markings, long-distance relationships between words and phrases, and a host of other phenomena. In this module we will develop an approach which will help explain how these phenomena work. The theory we will build explores ideas which come from recent work in Chomsky's Minimalist Program. Reading: Adger D, (2003) Core Syntax: a Minimalist Approach (Oxford University Press). This module is a pre-requisite for LIN039 Syntactic Theory, and for LIN312 Unfamiliar Languages.
English/Linguistics Research ProjectLIN042Level 6 modules (Final year)Full year30This module is compulsory for single honours English Language and Linguistics students as well as joint honours English Literature and Linguistics students who are not taking the research project module in the English Department. All other students wishing to take this module must see the module organiser before registration and must have reached a good standard on the prerequisite module LIN306 Research Methods in Linguistics. The module is designed to enable final year students to pursue a sustained piece of individual research on an agreed topic which may not necessarily be covered in the taught modules. You will give presentations of your research as it progresses, and should note that failure to provide evidence of satisfactory progress will lead to de-registration.
Language AcquisitionLIN101Level 4 modules (First year)Sem 215This module will delve into the process of language acquisition. The module will look at different models and theories that have arisen from the different schools of thought. It explores the different processes of first language acquisition and stages of development (phonological, lexical, syntactical), before moving onto the cognitive framework of language processing (parsing). The next area of focus will be bilingualism and second language acquisition. Students will be introduced to different forms of bilingualism and the issues raised in second language acquisition. They will also be introduced to language in the brain, speech pathologies and other communication systems.
History of EnglishLIN212Level 5 modules (Second year)Sem 215This module examines the socio-historical events that determined the shape and uses of the English language over time. Applying concepts from sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, and general linguistic analysis, we will explore how English has changed over 1500 years, and how similar processes continue to operate on the language today. Lectures will focus on social and historical events, while seminars will involve close analysis of the structure of Old, Middle, Early Modern and Present-Day English.
Language and MindLIN213Level 5 modules (Second year)Sem 115The module will provide an introduction to contemporary research on psycholinguistics. It will focus on language processing and language acquisition. Areas studied will include: language comprehension; language production; typical and atypical language acquisition; language in the brain; language and thought.
Language and the MediaLIN222Level 5 modules (Second year)Sem 215In this module, we will investigate the social and structural factors of language standardisation and the position of media in relation to it, as well as look at journalism's collective role in influencing language style and language policy. Both print and broadcast media will be examined, and you are encouraged to consider language production practices in web-based domains. You will analyse style standardisation efforts, processes, and data from a variety of micro and macro linguistic perspectives.
Structures of Spoken EnglishLIN303Level 6 modules (Final year)Sem 215Spoken language is typically spontaneous, fast and interactive, and occurring in face-to-face communication between at least two speakers. We will investigate how these factors are reflected in the syntactic and discourse structures that distinguish spoken from written English. We will also consider whether social class and gender differences between speakers results in differences in the use of these structures. There will be a mix of lectures, group analyses and discussion.
Unfamiliar LanguagesLIN312Level 6 modules (Final year)Sem 215Students will work in elicitation sessions with a native speaker of an unfamiliar language, i.e., one not commonly studied in linguistic theory. The language is decided on a year-by-year basis and can come from any part of the world. Previous years have studied Biak, Georgian and Hawaiian. The purpose of the module is to apply knowledge of the parameters of linguistic variation acquired in previous linguistics modules to form and test hypotheses about the grammatical structure of an unknown language. Assessment will emphasize the method of discovery (including elicitation, data organization, and hypothesis formation and testing) as well as the discoveries themselves.
Introduction to English SyntaxLIN402Level 4 modules (First year)Sem 215This is a compulsory module for English Language and Linguistics students which provides students with (i) a knowledge of basic descriptive grammatical terms and how they are used in the study of English; (ii) a knowledge of the core grammatical constructions of English; (iii) a set of tools to use in tackling the structure of English sentences; (iv) an understanding of and ability to use basic descriptive tools such as tree structures and transformations in analysing the grammar of English. This module is a pre-requisite for LIN037 Explaining Grammatical Structure.
Languages of the WorldLIN403Level 4 modules (First year)Sem 215This module is an introduction to the great diversity in language structure and use around the world. Using indigenous languages from diverse regions, such as Africa, Australia, Asia and North America, we will explore the question of whether universal constraints limit the range of what is possible in human language, and if so, why such universals might exist. We will consider diversity in how social and pragmatic functions are signalled by language use in different speech communities around the world, and the problems associated with language endangerment and death. We will also examine how different language families differ from one another in sounds, word formation, sentence formation, and usage.
Language in the UKLIN405Level 4 modules (First year)Sem 115This module will introduce students to diverse language situations in the UK, including English dialects, Celtic and French varieties, and immigrant languages. The emphasis will be on careful description of structural and social aspects of language variation in the UK. Students will be encouraged to explore language use in their own environment. The importance of basic concepts in linguistic description will be emphasised, as well as issues concerning language ideologies, the media, and education.
English in UseLIN4201Level 4 modules (First year)Sem 215This module concerns the contexts in which English is used, and the fact that the patterns and variations in language used in the everyday are worthy of analysis. The aim is to demonstrate how language-in-use can be studied systematically, and to show how English is used in particular situations and in the module of activities, speech situations, public discourse, and interpersonal interactions that we might otherwise take for granted. The entire module counts towards the QMUL Model.
Sociolinguistic Variation and ChangeLIN502Level 5 modules (Second year)Sem 115This module provides an in-depth investigation of linguistic variation as a social phenomenon. Building on the knowledge acquired in LIN404 Introduction to Sociolinguistic Variation, we identify the major theoretical principles that govern language variation and change, and develop a variety of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies for their investigation. In addition to being exposed to classic pieces of research in the field, students also gain first-hand experience in conducting original sociolinguistic research projects of their own.
Research Methods in LinguisticsLIN5202Level 5 modules (Second year)Sem 215This module focuses on how to conduct original empirical research in Linguistics. Students will get hands-on experience in conducting original research, including designing a project, collecting different types of linguistic data, doing qualitative and quantitative analysis, and presenting research findings. Since the best way to learn research methods is to practice them, students will do regular practical field assignments. They will also learn about the theoretical underpinnings of various research methods. The module will help prepare students for conducting independent research, but will also provide general transferrable skills such as how best to collect data to answer a specific question, how to understand and conduct statistical and other analysis, and how to interpret data patterns. The module is conducted as a seminar: active participation is expected and encouraged.
Semantics of African American EnglishLIN5203Level 5 modules (Second year)Sem 215With an estimated 30 million speakers, African American English is a major dialect of English. At the same time, it continues to suffer from the stigma of being considered 'bad English'. Yet just like with any other language, the surface variety that we see in AAE belies a complex, rule-governed system. We will study the grammar of AAE with a particular emphasis on those properties that determine how meaning is conveyed. An array of distinctive semantic features will be investigated, for example in the domains of tense, aspect, pronouns, quotatives and negation.
Linguistic Typology and Grammatical TheoryLIN5207Level 5 modules (Second year)Sem 115This is a module about language universals and linguistic typology. In it you will extend the descriptive knowledge you gained in LIN403 (Languages of the World) and learn how the descriptive categories connect to theoretical models of language variation. We will cover a subset of word order, grammatical functions, case marking, relative clauses, causative constructions, lexicalization parameters, the organization of the noun phrase, prepositional syntax, morphophonological variation. The assessment is mainly by a research project where you will work with native speakers of languages to investigate some typological property of interest.
Sex, Gender and LanguageLIN602Level 6 modules (Final year)Sem 115This module will be an option for students on the single-honours English Language and Linguistics degree (QQH1) and for students doing joint-honours degrees that include Linguistics. In this module, students will engage in a comprehensive investigation of language as it relates to gender and sexuality. Making use of recent theoretical innovations in the field of gender and sexuality studies, the module will provide students with exposure to the descriptive claims that have been made in the literature regarding the linguistic practices of women and men, as well as the various theoretical frameworks that have been proposed to account for those claims. Students will also be encouraged to link these descriptive facts with more recent analytical accounts of gendered and sexual power relations in society. Building upon the theoretical and methodological foundation students acquire in their first two years of study, this module adds a practical/critical dimension to the study of sociolinguistics, and demonstrates to students the potential political importance of linguistics research.
Multilingualism and BilingualismLIN6034Level 6 modules (Final year)Sem 215This course will provide an introduction to the field of bilingualism and multilingualism from a linguistic, psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic perspective. Topics to be covered include the definition of bilingualism and multilingualism and types of language contact, code-switching, bilingual and multilingual education and policy, as well as language development in individuals who are proficient in more than one language, and the cognitive effects of speaking more than one language.
History of the German LanguageLIN6041Level 6 modules (Final year)Sem 115This course provides an introduction to the field of historical linguistics, using the history of the German language as its central case study. As the course presupposes little to no background in linguistics, it begins with a basic overview of phonetics and moves to a discussion of the different elements of linguistic change (phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic/lexical change). We will also examine the historical methods by which linguists determine relatedness between various languages and reconstruct the development of individual languages and language families. We will then turn to the development of the different varieties of German out of Proto-Indo-European.
Syntactic TheoryLIN6201Level 6 modules (Final year)Sem 115This is an optional module which is aimed to put to practice the theoretical syntactic knowledge acquired in LIN402 and LIN037. In this module, each student will be guided through a small-scale research project in syntax, specifically going through the selection of a research topic, the articulation of a significant research question relative to that topic, the collection of empirical data that bears on the topic, the development of an account for such data, and the construction of the relevant argumentation and the articulation of the results. Instruction will be based on class lectures and on training seminar sessions. Students will be expected to give a presentation of their material.
Beyond Language: Multimodality in Theory and PracticeLIN6202Level 6 modules (Final year)Sem 115Comic books, computer games, playground interactions, and emoji-filled instant messages all highlight the fact that communication involves much more than language. Gestures, positioning in space, and forms of embodied communication carry meaning-making potential alongside spoken and written language. This module explores the interplay of language with other semiotic modes and contexts that play a role in meaning-making. Students analyse print media materials, electronic communication, and video-recorded interactions applying social semiotic, discourse analytic and multimodal interaction analytic perspectives. They also use the acquired knowledge creatively to construct effective multimodal material.

Constructing a LanguageLIN6203Level 6 modules (Final year)Sem 115From Esperanto to Klingon, from Volapuk to Elvish, from Leibniz's Universal Characteristic to Peterson's Dothraki, humans have made up artificial languages to support political, philosophical, and creative ends. This course examines examples of such artificial languages and their relation to natural language systems, and allows you to create a constructed language of your own, with a strong focus on systematic linguistic structure: phonological, morphological and syntactic systems as well as systems of lexical semantics and historical change. It will require you to bring together all your knowledge of linguistic structures as you make up your own language.
Language and Health CommunicationLIN6204Level 6 modules (Final year)Sem 115Health communication is becoming increasingly important in a world faced with new health challenges from obesity to Ebola, anxiety to diabetes. This module considers the role of language in our experience of and beliefs about health and illness. Students will learn how health communication differs among various communities, both monolingual and multilingual, from the grassroots level, such as in families, to broader groups, for example, between health professionals and patients. It also considers the effects of social diversity, such as the age, gender and ethnicity of patients and healthcare professionals. Students will become proficient in analysing a range of relevant uses of language, including narratives about health and illness, the representation of health and illness in the media, computer-mediated communication about illness, and public health information, persuasion and campaigns.
Introduction to PhonologyLIN4203Level 4 modules (First year)Sem 215The module is an introduction to the theoretical study of sound systems in the world's languages. We focus on the analysis of phonological data within a linguistically principled framework, and much of our learning will be by 'doing' - thus a large portion of the classroom time and assignments will be spent on data analysis from a wide variety of languages. We will work on extracting patterns from linguistic data, characterizing these patterns and representing them formally. Basic concepts to be covered include phonemes and allophones, distinctive features, natural classes, rule formalism, rule ordering and the difference/relation between underlying (abstract) and surface forms. Other concepts include syllable structure; stress; prosodic structure; and optimality theory. This module is a pre-requisite for LIN312 Unfamiliar Languages.
Sounds of EnglishLIN4204Level 4 modules (First year)Sem 115This module aims to give students knowledge of the main processes of phonetic articulation (mode, manner and place of articulation, airstream mechanisms, voicing, secondary articulations [velarization, palatalization, lip-rounding etc], vowel articulation including backness, height and roundness, plus a basic understanding of tone and pitch). It also aims to provide students with an understanding of how those processes are used in producing speech sounds, and with an ability to represent different sounds using an international standard (the IPA). In addition students will also be able to discriminate sounds aurally, and produce them from IPA script. The module will first focus on the sounds of English before examining sounds that are used in the world's languages. This module is a pre-requisite for the Introduction to Phonology module.
Thinking Linguistics: Approaches to Writing and AnalysisLIN4207Level 4 modules (First year)Sem 115The module will prepare students for university-level academic work during their degree, including standard practices in research and different genres of writing typical for the fields of Linguistics and English Language studies. The module will cover basic study skills at the university (finding your way around the campus, the role of the advisor and others, using the library effectively), basic research skills (writing essays and reports, how to choose what to read, using an index, internet use, plagiarism, referencing), and research skills specific to Linguistics (e.g. how to write an essay, an analytic problem set, a report on qualitative data, and a report on quantitative data). The module will help students recognise the inter-disciplinary nature of the field, and will provide hands-on experience with writing, editing, and critical thinking to prepare them for a range of types of assessment and genres of writing.

s a QMUL Model Module it will be available to students registered on degree programmes involving English Language or Linguistics.
Foundations of LanguageLIN4208Level 4 modules (First year)Sem 130This module introduces students to the core concepts, terminology, and technical apparatus of the structural parts of linguistics (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics), as well as the conceptual underpinnings of the discipline. You will learn about fundamental concepts such as: contrast and distribution; structure; rules and representations; the cognitive basis of language and how that is distinct from its social basis; language universals and variation. You will also learn how to solve problems of linguistic analysis using these concepts and the terminology and techniques of the discipline as well as how to use hypothesis testing to devise solutions to these problems. These are all fundamental pieces of knowledge and skills that will provide the foundation for any further study in linguistics.
Corpus LinguisticsLIN506Level 5 modules (Second year)Sem 115This module will introduce you to Corpus Linguistics (CL). It focuses on theoretical aspects underlying CL such as collocation, idiom principle, semantic prosody and pattern grammar. You will be introduced to some of the commonly used software and electronic corpora, and gain hands-on experience in creating and analyzing corpus-data. Finally, the module will demonstrate the ways in which CL can be applied to investigate language structures and use in a variety of registers and contexts, e.g. in diachronic research (language change), synchronic research (language variation), discourse studies (gendered discourse) and in work on language acquisition.
Explaining Phonological StructuresLIN5208Level 5 modules (Second year)Sem 115This module will build on the skills of phonological analysis, focusing on the learning of constraint-based models of phonology (i.e. Optimality Theory). Students will continue to "learn-by-doing", working on extracting patterns from linguistic data. This will be a further study in phonological theory and analysis, introducing students to autosegmental theory, syllable structure, metrical theory, the interface of phonology and other components of the grammar, as well as experimental approaches to theoretical phonology. A focus of this module will be on theory comparison, comparing rule-based vs. constraint approaches.
Aspects of MeaningLIN5209Level 5 modules (Second year)Sem 115When you say a sentence, that sentence evokes a new thought in the mind of the person you are talking to. This is because words of human languages have meanings, and the ways that those words combine also has an effect on meaning. This module looks at the different aspects of meaning that contribute to the process of understanding sentences that underlies all communication.
In a WordLIN5212Level 5 modules (Second year)Sem 215Words are the most natural, accessible units of our language, but when we attempt to make more explicit our knowledge and use of words, we are faced with many important questions. For instance, the average adult knows approximately 50,000 words but how is it possible for to learn so many words in a relatively short period of time? How do we extract words, with their specific meaning, from the acoustic jumble of speech? How do we know when 'strike' is a noun and when it is a verb? How do we know that 'transformationalize' is probably a word in English, even if we don't know what it means, but that 'transformize' is not? And how do young children learn all this? Based primarily on English, we will learn to assign structure to words; we will look at how their meaning interacts with context; and finally, at how children acquire words.
Meaning in the Real WorldLIN6046Level 6 modules (Final year)Sem 115The study of linguistic meaning has many real-world applications. In the areas of law, healthcare, politics and other domains of public life, one must grapple with issues such as ambiguity, vagueness, and context-sensitivity. This module will investigate how analytical tools from formal semantics can be applied in order to highlight and address a diverse range of problems in these areas. We will apply the tools from the Level 5 module Aspects of Meaning to a set of real-world cases. Examples might include legal cases involving an ambiguity in the wording of a contract, the expression of pain in healthcare settings, and recent controversies over the use of racial slurs by politicians. By conducting your own investigation of a real-world case study that raises issues about the nature of linguistic meaning, you will learn about the ways in which linguistics can shed light on contemporary societal and political issues.
Puzzles in SemanticsLIN6047Level 6 modules (Final year)Sem 215This is a problem-based module that will enable you to get hands-on experience on working through data sets from English and from other languages, and to learn how to link up your analyses to theories on the topic. This module will also enable you to further develop your critical thinking and problem-solving skills more generally.
Ethnography of Communication - Foundations and FieldworkLIN620Level 6 modules (Final year)Sem 215This module provides an overview of ethnography of communication, a theoretical and methodological approach to analyzing and understanding a wide range of communicative patterns and language uses as they occur within social and cultural contexts. Students will also apply ethnographic insights and methodologies to fieldwork activities and projects in the local community, investigating the range of practices that constitute ethnographic research, aiming for an integrative and holistic understanding through discussion of class members' fieldwork activities.
Developmental Disorders of Language and CognitionLIN6205Level 6 modules (Final year)Sem 215This module will explore current theoretical approaches and research in the area of developmental disorders of language and cognition. The following topics will be included: Theoretical and methodological issues in the study of developmental disorders; Specific Language Impairment; Dyslexia; Reading Comprehension Impairment; Autism Spectrum Disorders; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; Hearing Impairment; Assessment and Intervention for Developmental Disorders.
Return to top