BA (Hons) English Language & Communication with Optional Sandwich Placement/ Study Abroad

About the course

1/

Where language comes from and how people use it is one of the big debates of our time. This subject looks at how the English language works, how we use it to communicate, how we acquire it in the first place, and how it varies according to social factors. You can also specialise in English Language Teaching.

The modules make extensive use of web based resources such as interactive exercises. In the first year you explore language in use, in face-to-face communication and in the media, as well as looking at the role of English in the world. You will develop skills of grammatical analysis and explore questions like: Are humans the only species to use language? What does the language of stroke patients tell us about language and the brain? Does the way we speak influence the way we think?


In your second and final years you can choose from different modules, which will give you a thorough grounding in describing and analysing language and communication, including modules on the sounds of English and how they are produced, vocabulary, varieties of language, dialects and accents, the history of English, how children acquire language, how people produce and understand language and what can go wrong with it, as well as how language functions in society. You may explore a topic of special interest to you in your final year project.
English Language and Communication is available as a single, joint and combined honours subject within the Humanities Programme.

Please note:

  • All Humanities students will take more than one subject in their first year. Students may choose to continue in all their subjects or they may change to single honours in their second year. 
  • All full-time Humanities students will take an extra module, ‘Engaging with the Humanities’, in their first year.  This module helps you to explore the nature of study within different Humanities disciplines. Your ‘Engaging with the Humanities’ tutor will also be your personal tutor.

Why choose this course?

A qualification in English Language and Communication is valuable in a wide range of careers, specifically speech therapy, psychology, computing and teaching English either as mother tongue or as a foreign language. The sensitivity to language & sense of accuracy you develop at the course is highly rated in any career where intensive reading and writing are demanded.

Entry requirements...

2017 entry 

UCAS are introducing a new tariff for 2017 entry so the points being asked for are substantially different to previous years.

112 UCAS points 

IB - 112 points from a minimum of 2 HL subjects at H4 or above.

GCSE Maths and English Language at Grade 4 or above (Grade C or above under the old grading structure).

All students from non-majority English speaking countries require proof of English language proficiency, equivalent to an overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each band.

If you do not have the required IELTS or equivalent for direct entry on to your degree programme, our Pre-sessional English and International Foundation courses can help you to achieve this level.

For country specific qualifications, please visit our Your Country page.

Professional Accreditations

None

Careers

Our graduates have an excellent record of gaining employment in media, publishing, teaching and information management where their skills in analysis, communication and evaluation are highly valued. Many of our graduates go on to higher levels of study engaging in research in their chosen fields. Whatever your future career plans, what is important to your potential employers is the range of intellectual, transferable, personal skills and experience you have gained and can demonstrate. We ensure our programmes are relevant to the world of work through active links with regional employers across a range of industries and professions.

Teaching methods

The precise method of teaching varies according to each module. Most are taught via weekly lectures and weekly seminars. You may be asked to work with fellow students and produce some group work together. Sometimes you will have to present the findings of your research to your fellow students in the seminars. You will be expected to contribute to on-line discussions and to download and read lecture notes from StudyNet, our virtual learning environment.

Modules

The following modules will run in 2016-17. Modules may change each year in response to student feedback and staff expertise.

English Language & Communications

Year one

  • Language Analysis
  • Talk, Text, and Patwa
  • Communication, Interaction and Context
  • Language and Mind

Year two

  • Learning and Teaching Language 1
  • English Grammar
  • Language and Species
  • Language in Society
  • Research Methods in EL&C
  • Learning and Teaching Language 2
  • Sounds of English
  • Forensic Linguistics
  • Language Competences in Career Development
  • History of the English Language 

Year three

  • Child Language and Communication
  • Meaning and Context
  • Chunky Language
  • Forensic Phonetics
  • Language and Communication Project (30 credits, 2 semesters)
  • Language & Communication Short Project
  • Clinical Linguistics
  • Language Processing
  • Communication and Cultures
  • Debates in Pragmatics
  • Gender in Language and Communication

Work Placement

Study Abroad

This course offers you the opportunity to study abroad in the Sandwich Year through the University's study abroad programme. Study abroad opportunities are available worldwide and in Europe under the Erasmus+ Programme.
Find out more about Study abroad opportunities

In some cases, you may be able to graduate with a degree from your partner university as well as from Hertfordshire. You may be eligible for a grant if you meet certain conditions.

Structure

Year 2

Core Modules

  • Graduate Skills

    You will be offered a variety of employment enhancing workshops and online activities such as interview skills workshops, personality profiling and career planning in order to improve your employment prospects after graduation and make you aware of current areas of strength and weakness in relation to employability. You will also have the opportunity to learn about self-employment options, graduate schemes and will attend speaker sessions with successful professionals in areas of employment appropriate for Humanities graduates so you can learn about the skills and attributes required for these areas and how to enhance your prospects of entering such areas. You will be required to undertake a certain number of activities chosen by you from a career “menu” and to reflect on what they have learnt in order to complete the module successfully.

Optional

  • English Grammar

    This module examines what grammar is and is not, and presents a detailed description of the grammar of English. It looks at the different word categories, constituent structure of sentences, grammatical functions and the structure of complex sentences and different sentence types. It aims at providing you with the knowledge necessary to conduct grammatical analyses. This module is a prerequisite for study of English Language & Communication at Level 3.

  • Forensic Linguistics

    In this module we will be concerned with real examples of language use in legal contexts. Specifically, the module will first give an introduction to discourse analysis and then apply the methods of discourse analysis to Forensic Linguistics, the application of linguistics in order to understand conversation in legal contexts and establish authorship, authenticity and veracity in forensic texts. The talk and texts we will analyse will be taken from court proceedings, police interviews, witness statements, confessions, emergency calls, hate mail and suicide letters.

  • History of the English Language

    In this module you will study how English as a language has developed from Old English to its present form. We will discuss evidence for the earliest form of English together with the development of Old English dialects and the influence from a variety of languages. We will relate linguistic change such as the Great Vowel shift to the difficulties of the standardisation of spelling from the 15th century onwards. Vocabulary changes in the Early Modern Period are linked to contemporary history and the beginnings of the establishment of English on the world stage. The theoretical input is balanced by the study of contemporary texts in Old English, Middle English and Early Modern English, concluding with a view of how present day English has changed within living memory.

  • Language Competencies in Career Development

    In order to be able to take this module, you need to have found a suitable work placement opportunity by the end of Semester A (1st December) and not have taken a work experience module in a different subject area. The module provides you with an opportunity to reflect on the experience you are gaining in EL&C related work experience. One the one hand, you will focus on subject specific skills applied in the work experience as well as communicative events in the workplace, on the other you will reflect on personal and key skills that the experience has helped you to develop and articulate the ways in which it has enhanced your career development. Suitable work experience includes: communication support volunteer for the stroke association, assistant supporting school students in literacy and English language skills, assisting with the teaching of English Language and Culture to adults, mentoring international students.

  • Language and Species

    Research into the evolution of human communication has been controversial. Shortly after the publication of Darwin's masterpiece in 1859, the topic was banned by the London Philological Society. Recent advances in genetics, anthropology and cognitive science, however, have together resulted in renewed interest and more rigorous investigation and the birth of a new field. Evolutionary Linguistics is an interdisciplinary field which draws upon linguistics, evolutionary theory, biology, anthrolopology, primatology and psychology in order to answer three key questions: Why do we communicate? When did language evolve? What are the origins of language? In this module, students are first introduced to the basics of evolutionary theory before focusing on the questions raised above. Additional questions addressed include: How do other species communicate? Could Neanderthals speak? Can chimpanzees lie?

  • Language in Society

    Sociolinguistics is the study of language in society. This module will introduce you to the major issues in sociolinguistics. We will start by addressing the relation between language and society and the nature of variation. We will address varieties of language use at the level of the group and the individual and explore three kinds of lectal variation: regional, social and functional. We will consider how and why users vary their language according to different social settings as well as the social pressures that cause language change. Further topics to be studied include accents and dialects, language and ethnicity and language and gender. This module should appeal to anyone interested in the way language is used to signal identity and negotiate society.

  • Learning and Teaching Language 1

    This module is the first of two that look in some depth at issues in the learning and teaching of language, with special reference to English. In this module, more emphasis is laid on the learner, and this is reversed in the second module. The module examines both naturalistic methods of learning and classroom learning, distinguishing between the typical outcomes for the learner in each condition. It considers the work of contemporary theorists, and examines factors such as the role of error, the construction of the learner, the functions of literacy, and the patterns of interaction in the classroom. It examines classrooms as teaching environments, showing how underlying assumptions become articulated in classroom practice. It considers key variables affecting the learning and teaching processes.

  • Learning and Teaching Language 2

    This module is the second of two that look in some depth at issues in the learning and teaching of language, with special reference to English. In this module, more emphasis is laid on teaching. The module takes a broadly historical approach to language learning and teaching. The starting-off point will be a resume of the state of EFL as a result of the professionalization of teaching at the end of the C19 and the effects of the Reform Movement. Thereafter there will be examination of such trends and approaches as the grammar / translation 'method', behaviourism, the audio-lingual approach, the communicative approach, Krashen's input hypothesis, the Lexical approach and the Intercultural approach. Connections will be made in each case with the key concepts relating to language learners discussed in the preceding module. A final session looks at classroom generated research and at what teachers can hope to learn from it.

  • Research Methods in English Language & Communication

    This module provides you with a broad overview of research skills and the theoretical and empirical issues involved in carrying out research. We will focus on how to perform systematic literature reviews and to synthesise information, as well as on both empirical and non-empirical research methods. You are introduced to current research strategies used in English Language & Communication and will develop the skills (including IT skills) required in order to collect, code and analyse pre-existing, naturalistic, experimental and questionnaire data. Data archives and computer based analysis programs as well as psycholinguistic experiments are explored. The module will prepare you for the kinds of work you will undertake at level 6, as well as for conducting a long or short project.

  • Sounds of English

    This module will offer you the chance to study the sounds of English at two levels: the surface level (phonetics) and the underlying mental level (phonology). We will start by looking at the physiological apparatus involved with the production of speech before examining in more detail how individual speech sounds are made (articulatory phonetics). We will then turn to the organisation of speech sounds at the underlying mental level. Here we will identify the distinct 'sound concepts' of English and explore the various ways they each may be realised phonetically. We will then move on to analysing syllables and stress. The module offers you an important descriptive tool for further language study as well as essential knowledge for careers in areas such as speech and language therapy. This module is a prerequisite for study of English Language and Communication at level 3.

  • Syntax

    This module presents students with a recent generative syntactic theory. It deals in a detailed way with some of the overall goals of linguistic analysis, and examines the principles and mechanisms that are proposed to account for the grammatically well-formed sentences of English. We'll look at puzzles such as why it is okay to say ‘What did Mary claim that Peter did?' (cf. Mary claimed that Peter lied) but we can’t say ‘What did Mary make the claim that Peter did?’ (cf. Mary made the claim that Peter lied), even though the sentences mean virtually the same thing, and we can understand both.

  • Vocabulary

    This module investigates different aspects of English vocabulary. This will involve looking in detail at different ways in which words are defined, how words are formed, what they mean, where they come from and how they change over time. In addition we will look at the use of corpora in the study of word meaning and word collocations, in particular the British National Corpus and Wordnet. The module will also address how dictionaries are assembled, with special reference to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Year 3

Core Modules

  • Graduate Skills

    You will be able to access employability and enterprise resources including workshops, online materials and books in order to help you formulate a career or post-graduate study plan. You will have the opportunity to hear speakers from a variety of areas give advice and guidance as to how to enter those fields. You will be required to undertake a certain number of activities chosen by you from a career "menu" and to reflect on what they have learnt in order to complete the module successfully.

Optional

  • Child Language & Communication

    This module provides a detailed investigation of how children acquire their first language and the theories that seek to explain the process. We will look at child language from the pre-linguistic stage through to the acquisition of words, morpho-syntax and inflections. You will also explore the relation between language and cognitive development, as well as the acquisition of communication skills. These topics will be considered for both monolingual and bilingual children.

  • Chunky Language: Investigating Formulaic Sequences

    In this module you will find out what a formulaic sequence is, why they play such an important role in native speaker (L1) communication, and how and why they are stored in and retrieved from memory as a whole. We will look at different types of language data produced by children and adults, including, but not limited to, the British National Corpus, Aviation English, sports commentaries, sitcoms, cookbooks and weather reports. We will also discuss why second language (L2) learners rely heavily on these sequences during the early stages of second language development (SLD), only to then find that they are the "biggest stumbling block to sounding nativelike" (Wray 2002: ix) in later stages of SLD.

  • Clinical Linguistics

    This module examines the effects of developmental and acquired disorders of language and/or communication on the acquisition and use of language. Different kinds of linguistic disorders are presented in an attempt to explore the nature of language and communication. Topics include, for example, the study of: phonological disability, stuttering, grammatical impairment, semantic/pragmatic disorders, hearing impairment, Downs Syndrome and autism. The module also looks at other language modalities, such as British Sign Language and addresses issues concerned with the assessment of comprehension and production and the use of computer programs and databases in language analysis.

  • Communication and Cultures

    The module gives you an opportunity to bring to the surface some of your personal / social cultural assumptions and working beliefs, and to see how they map onto those of other cultures, with specific attention to a specified domain of each student's choice. In particular, you are encouraged to look at inter-cultural communication, in the forms of face-to-face conversation, interviews, group encounters, formal situations such as conferences, e-mail and other forms of written communication, in order to see how other cultures, and especially a culture of your own choosing, articulate, disguise, hide and express beliefs.

  • Debates in Pragmatics

    This module is concerned with the interpretation of utterances in context. We will look at some of the main issues that are debated in the pragmatic literature. Our focus will be on the Relevance- Theoretic approach, but we will also consider other theoretical viewpoints. In particular, we will look at the explicit and implicit content of utterances, the nature of pragmatic and inferential processes, as well as the interpretation of figurative language such as metaphor. We will also consider the experimental approach in the study of pragmatic phenomena. The content of the module follows on from the Semester A module, Meaning and Context.

  • Forensic Phonetics

    This module provides an introduction to forensic phonetics, the practical application of phonetic analysis to criminal investigations involving speech, e.g. threatening telephone calls, hoax 999 calls, ransom demands, blackmail, extortion, planning a drug deal. We will investigate the issues involved in characterising an individual by his or her speech, and in attempting to distinguish speakers from one another. The module will demonstrate how phonetic tools such as auditory analysis and acoustic techniques are used in speaker profiling and speaker comparison cases. It will also examine the ability of lay listeners to identify speakers and consider issues involved in collecting ‘earwitness’ evidence through voice parades. Phonetic techniques applied in disputed utterance analysis and speaker attribution cases will also be discussed.

  • Gender in Language and Communication

    We will begin the course with a study of the historical and theoretical background to the study of language and gender within the larger area of sociolinguistics. We will examine various theories that attempt to account for gendered differences in language, and look at the key pieces of research in this area. This will include a focus on the following: sexism in language; gender differences in pronunciation and grammar; sex and convert prestige, discourse features and turn taking, narratives and storytelling, and politeness. We will then move on to contemporary theories in the area that move beyond the binary distinction of men and women to how speakers can perform their gendered identity. This includes a focus on workplace discourse to examine how leadership and power are enacted within masculine and feminine workplaces. Recent changes in language and gender studies, such as the incorporation of the Community of Practice framework to analyse language use, will also be addressed.

  • Language & Communication Project

    In this module you undertake an individual project on a topic of your choice. The project is the opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to use many of the skills developed over your previous studies, and to take those skills to a higher plane.

  • Language & Communication Short Project

    You undertake an individual project on a topic of your choice. The project is the opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to use many of the skills developed over their previous studies.

  • Language Processing

    Learning outcomes will be achieved through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and directed tasks. The module introduces you to the theories and methodologies of psycholinguistics relating to language processing. You will consider psycholinguistic models of the mental lexicon and of language production and comprehension. You will be taught how to critically examine this work, looking not just at the results but how they were obtained - the underlying assumptions, what counts as evidence. You will assess the contribution that linguistics can make. You will also collect and analyse relevant data, commenting on difficulties encountered. The module will distinguish five ways of approaching the mental lexicon: how lexical information is acquired, how it is stored, how it is accessed in production, how it is accessed in comprehension, and how it is lost. The module will focus on questions of storage and access, but will make reference to acquisition and dissolution as appropriate. Students will be introduced to the modularity/connectionism debate; they will then explore the modularity model of the organisation of the mental lexicon in some detail. Key models of lexical processing in word production and in word comprehension will be examined, and some conclusions drawn. Sentential processing will be considered, both from the point of view of production and of comprehension. Questions of serial/parallel, autonomous/interactive processing will be explored. In each case, production and comprehension, the strategy will be to see to what extent a serial, autonomous model can be maintained. Speech errors and hesitation phenomena will provide the main evidence for production, and lexical and syntactic ambiguities the main evidence for comprehension. The strengths and limitations of psycholinguistic modelling will be assessed.

  • Meaning and Context

    This module is concerned with meaning in language and communication. It introduces students to different types of meaning and different theoretical approaches to studying meaning in the philosophy of language and linguistics. A key issue will be the distinction between semantics and pragmatics, where the boundary between them lies, and the way in which the two realms interact in the communication of meaning.

Year 4

Core Modules

  • Graduate Skills

    You will be able to access employability and enterprise resources including workshops, online materials and books in order to help you formulate a career or post-graduate study plan. You will have the opportunity to hear speakers from a variety of areas give advice and guidance as to how to enter those fields. You will be required to undertake a certain number of activities chosen by you from a career "menu" and to reflect on what they have learnt in order to complete the module successfully.

Optional

  • Child Language & Communication

    This module provides a detailed investigation of how children acquire their first language and the theories that seek to explain the process. We will look at child language from the pre-linguistic stage through to the acquisition of words, morpho-syntax and inflections. You will also explore the relation between language and cognitive development, as well as the acquisition of communication skills. These topics will be considered for both monolingual and bilingual children.

  • Chunky Language: Investigating Formulaic Sequences

    In this module you will find out what a formulaic sequence is, why they play such an important role in native speaker (L1) communication, and how and why they are stored in and retrieved from memory as a whole. We will look at different types of language data produced by children and adults, including, but not limited to, the British National Corpus, Aviation English, sports commentaries, sitcoms, cookbooks and weather reports. We will also discuss why second language (L2) learners rely heavily on these sequences during the early stages of second language development (SLD), only to then find that they are the "biggest stumbling block to sounding nativelike" (Wray 2002: ix) in later stages of SLD.

  • Clinical Linguistics

    This module examines the effects of developmental and acquired disorders of language and/or communication on the acquisition and use of language. Different kinds of linguistic disorders are presented in an attempt to explore the nature of language and communication. Topics include, for example, the study of: phonological disability, stuttering, grammatical impairment, semantic/pragmatic disorders, hearing impairment, Downs Syndrome and autism. The module also looks at other language modalities, such as British Sign Language and addresses issues concerned with the assessment of comprehension and production and the use of computer programs and databases in language analysis.

  • Communication and Cultures

    The module gives you an opportunity to bring to the surface some of your personal / social cultural assumptions and working beliefs, and to see how they map onto those of other cultures, with specific attention to a specified domain of each student's choice. In particular, you are encouraged to look at inter-cultural communication, in the forms of face-to-face conversation, interviews, group encounters, formal situations such as conferences, e-mail and other forms of written communication, in order to see how other cultures, and especially a culture of your own choosing, articulate, disguise, hide and express beliefs.

  • Debates in Pragmatics

    This module is concerned with the interpretation of utterances in context. We will look at some of the main issues that are debated in the pragmatic literature. Our focus will be on the Relevance- Theoretic approach, but we will also consider other theoretical viewpoints. In particular, we will look at the explicit and implicit content of utterances, the nature of pragmatic and inferential processes, as well as the interpretation of figurative language such as metaphor. We will also consider the experimental approach in the study of pragmatic phenomena. The content of the module follows on from the Semester A module, Meaning and Context.

  • Forensic Phonetics

    This module provides an introduction to forensic phonetics, the practical application of phonetic analysis to criminal investigations involving speech, e.g. threatening telephone calls, hoax 999 calls, ransom demands, blackmail, extortion, planning a drug deal. We will investigate the issues involved in characterising an individual by his or her speech, and in attempting to distinguish speakers from one another. The module will demonstrate how phonetic tools such as auditory analysis and acoustic techniques are used in speaker profiling and speaker comparison cases. It will also examine the ability of lay listeners to identify speakers and consider issues involved in collecting ‘earwitness’ evidence through voice parades. Phonetic techniques applied in disputed utterance analysis and speaker attribution cases will also be discussed.

  • Gender in Language and Communication

    We will begin the course with a study of the historical and theoretical background to the study of language and gender within the larger area of sociolinguistics. We will examine various theories that attempt to account for gendered differences in language, and look at the key pieces of research in this area. This will include a focus on the following: sexism in language; gender differences in pronunciation and grammar; sex and convert prestige, discourse features and turn taking, narratives and storytelling, and politeness. We will then move on to contemporary theories in the area that move beyond the binary distinction of men and women to how speakers can perform their gendered identity. This includes a focus on workplace discourse to examine how leadership and power are enacted within masculine and feminine workplaces. Recent changes in language and gender studies, such as the incorporation of the Community of Practice framework to analyse language use, will also be addressed.

  • Language & Communication Project

    In this module you undertake an individual project on a topic of your choice. The project is the opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to use many of the skills developed over your previous studies, and to take those skills to a higher plane.

  • Language & Communication Short Project

    You undertake an individual project on a topic of your choice. The project is the opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to use many of the skills developed over their previous studies.

  • Language Processing

    Learning outcomes will be achieved through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and directed tasks. The module introduces you to the theories and methodologies of psycholinguistics relating to language processing. You will consider psycholinguistic models of the mental lexicon and of language production and comprehension. You will be taught how to critically examine this work, looking not just at the results but how they were obtained - the underlying assumptions, what counts as evidence. You will assess the contribution that linguistics can make. You will also collect and analyse relevant data, commenting on difficulties encountered. The module will distinguish five ways of approaching the mental lexicon: how lexical information is acquired, how it is stored, how it is accessed in production, how it is accessed in comprehension, and how it is lost. The module will focus on questions of storage and access, but will make reference to acquisition and dissolution as appropriate. Students will be introduced to the modularity/connectionism debate; they will then explore the modularity model of the organisation of the mental lexicon in some detail. Key models of lexical processing in word production and in word comprehension will be examined, and some conclusions drawn. Sentential processing will be considered, both from the point of view of production and of comprehension. Questions of serial/parallel, autonomous/interactive processing will be explored. In each case, production and comprehension, the strategy will be to see to what extent a serial, autonomous model can be maintained. Speech errors and hesitation phenomena will provide the main evidence for production, and lexical and syntactic ambiguities the main evidence for comprehension. The strengths and limitations of psycholinguistic modelling will be assessed.

  • Meaning and Context

    This module is concerned with meaning in language and communication. It introduces students to different types of meaning and different theoretical approaches to studying meaning in the philosophy of language and linguistics. A key issue will be the distinction between semantics and pragmatics, where the boundary between them lies, and the way in which the two realms interact in the communication of meaning.

Fees & funding

Fees 2016

UK/EU Students

Full time: £9,000 for the 2016 academic year

International Students

Full time: £11,000 for the 2016 academic year

Fees 2017

UK/EU Students

Full time: £9,250 for the 2017 academic year

International Students

Full time: £11,350 for the 2017 academic year

*Tuition fees are charged annually. The fees quoted above are for the specified year(s) only. Fees may be higher in future years, for both new and continuing students. Please see the University’s Fees and Finance Policy (and in particular the section headed “When tuition fees change”), for further information about when and by how much the University may increase its fees for future years.

View detailed information about tuition fees

Additional course-related costs

There may be some additional costs or charges associated with studying on this course. These costs or charges may be compulsory (ie you have to pay them if you are studying this course) or they may be optional (ie you don’t have to pay them, but they may help you get the most out of your course).

Any such costs or charges will be outlined in the About your course factsheet that can be found on the course Overview page.

Other financial support

Find out more about other financial support available to UK and EU students

Living costs / accommodation

The University of Hertfordshire offers a great choice of student accommodation, on campus or nearby in the local area, to suit every student budget.

View detailed information about our accommodation

How to apply

2017

Start DateEnd DateLink
28/09/201720/05/2018Apply online (Full Time)
28/09/201720/05/2018Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)

2018

Start DateEnd DateLink
28/09/201820/05/2019Apply online (Full Time)
28/09/201820/05/2019Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)