Why choose to study a language you already speak? It’s easy to take your own language for granted, but this BA English Language and Linguistics course allows you to explore it from every angle.
You’ll be introduced to Linguistics, the scientific study of everything to do with language, from its structure and how it develops in children, to the ways it reflects society, how it’s used, and how it changes over time. You’ll be taught by research-active academics working in cutting-edge areas such as language and gender, formulaic language, corpus studies, bilingualism, bilingual processing and codeswitching.
What links our work is our focus on the applied use of English language, from English Language teaching to the use of forensic linguistics in solving language-related real-life problems such as plagiarism and crime investigation, to speech and language therapy and the study of language disorders.
In your first year, alongside core linguistics modules, you’ll study language and mind, where you’ll analyse child speech transcripts and consider language acquisition. You’ll also explore the diversity of use of the English language including regional variants, pidgin and creole English, language and ethnicity, and slang and street English.
Core modules in your second year focus on English grammar and the sounds of English. You can explore theories of how and why language developed and take a language competencies module leading to a work placement.
In your final year you can develop your own interests in short projects, or follow modules in different topics, including child language and communication, clinical linguistics, gender and language, and formulaic language, informed by our academics’ own research specialisms.
One final year option is corpus studies in English language, which will develop your research skills through your use of Sketch Engine, a text analysis tool that allows you to search vast samples of language, or corpora. Want to know when the word ‘Brexit’ first appeared in print or when ‘backstop’ acquired a new meaning? Find out by delving into databases of billions of words, to pursue your own original research projects.
Why choose this course?
We give you:
An understanding of applied language, to underpin a career in teaching or speech and language therapy
A supportive, research-active academic team
A flexible, innovative programme of study, allowing you to concentrate on areas you find especially interesting
Access to huge online databases to inform your original research projects
CV-building potential through work placements and extra-curricular activities
A guaranteed post-graduation interview with the School of Education
You can also study English Language in combination with another subject:
Our English Language students benefit from being part of a supportive, research-active academic community. From tutorials and group work to psycholinguistic experiments including eyetracking, we use a range of engaging, student-centred teaching methods to help you work confidently and creatively.
You’ll dive into real-life data, get involved in research and learn from guest experts. You’ll have the opportunity to get involved in activities that will complement your studies, such as working for student media channels. Not only do these enhance your experience, they also make for a more impressive CV.
Work placements enable you to gain valuable experience, explore career possibilities and make useful contacts with a potential future employer. We offer a career development module in your second year that will equip you to take up an English Language teaching work placement, whether teaching phonics to primary school pupils or at a special needs school, or volunteering at the Stroke Association. You may also shadow speech and language therapists or help with specialist language teaching in a sixth form college.
Taking a year’s study abroad is an excellent opportunity to broaden your understanding of the world. Living in another country opens up fresh perspectives and helps create global citizens. For our English Language students, it will enable you to experience global English while gaining an appreciation of other cultures and societies. Recent English Language students have studied in Japan.
The aim of this module is to enable you to gain an insight into the relation between language and mind. We start with a characterisation of communication systems and with a discussion in what ways human language differs from animal communication. In the light of studies that have tried to teach language to chimpanzees we further explore the question whether the ability for ‘grammar’ is unique in humans. We then look at particular brain structures that are important for language functions and what happens when these structures are affected by a stroke. We will also look at the question whether language influences the way we think. Children’s acquisition of language and cases of language deprivation are other topics on this module. The notion of a ‘critical period’ in language acquisition will be applied to first and second language acquisition and we will conclude with a discussion of different approaches to language learning.
Communication, Interaction, Context - 15 Credits
The focus of this module is on “language in inter-action”. It sets out to maximise awareness of the factors at play when we communicate with others. Language is used to ‘do’ things in communicative situations and we look at several theories that seek to explain how this is achieved, e.g. Grice’s (1989) Theory of Cooperation and Politeness Theory (Brown and Levinson 1987). We also explore how we understand what someone is saying to us when much of the language we use is ambiguous, implied or figurative. Communication involves more than a code, and we explore the role of context, the knowledge we bring to conversations and the importance of ‘Theory of Mind’ in understanding what someone says to us. The first part of the module will be concerned with face to face communication, but in the second part, we will focus on computer mediated communication including communication through social media.
English Language in Use - 15 Credits
The focus of this module is on the diversity of use of the English language. We all use English in different ways: our language varieties reflect who we are and the situation in which the language is being used. Sociolinguists often compare linguistic ‘variables’ to the ‘standard’ forms of English and we will explore Standard English and the issues it raises. Some linguistic forms are socially stigmatised and students are encouraged to reflect on their own attitudes to language. The diversity of use of the English language will be explored through various topics such as regional variation in English, pidgin and creole Englishes, World Englishes, variation in English over time, the use of slang English / street language and anti-language, language and ethnicity, and language and gender. Finally, we will look at the notion of situational English and will explore the use of English on the internet.
Language in the Media - 15 Credits
In this module, you will develop a range of skills which will enable them to undertake the linguistic analysis of media taken from various sources, including new media sources such as digital media, social media/ online identity, multimodal communication, mobile communication; as well as other media genres such as films, T.V shows and music. You will develop the ability to approach the language in the media critically to understand the importance and powerful effect of the media in our society.
Investigating Language - 15 Credits
This module will give students on the English Language and Linguistics Programme the opportunity to develop a variety of skills necessary to be successful in their chosen modules and to thrive in a university environment. You will develop your skills of academic reading, writing, researching, analysing and communicating with others. The learning sessions are designed to foster a sense of community within the student cohort and, at the same time, develop each individual’s communication skills whether that be when working in small groups or when giving oral presentations.
History of the English Language - 15 Credits
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 different languages. We will also look into reasons why these changes have occurred, and place them in their socio-historical context. For example, we will relate linguistic change such as the Great Vowel shift to the difficulties of the standardisation of spelling and vocabulary changes in the Early Modern Period to contemporary history and the beginnings of the establishment of English on the world stage.
Introduction to English Linguistics 1 - 15 Credits
This module introduces you to the fundamentals of English Linguistics. We will explore the origins of modern linguistics as a discipline and discuss core concepts of linguistic analysis, including, but not limited to, phonemes, morphemes and parts of speech.
In this module you will be provided with the basic knowledge pertaining to different properties of language and how these are described, theorised and investigated.
This module is taught in workshops and will give you ample opportunities to engage in hands-on practical tasks that will hone your knowledge and understanding of the core concepts of linguistics and equip you with the analytical skills so that you are able to apply them in different contexts across other modules in your studies of the subject of English Language and Linguistics.
Introduction to English Linguistics 2 - 15 Credits
This module introduces you to the fundamentals of English Linguistics and builds on 4HUM1150. We will discuss different approaches to grammatical and syntactical analysis and how meaning is theorised, constructed and analysed both on a lexical and text level. We will also explore language change, revisiting and expanding on some of the concepts introduced in 4HUM1150. Finally, we will explore how the fundamental concepts of linguistics are used in one or more areas of applied linguistics.
The workshops for this module will provide you with ample opportunities to put your newly gained knowledge into practice by applying it in various tasks.
English Grammar - 15 Credits
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.
Sounds of English - 15 Credits
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.
Graduate Skills - 0 Credits
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.
Learning and Teaching Language 2 - 15 Credits
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, the Natural Approach and the Lexical Approach. Connections will be made in each case with the key concepts discussed in the preceding module.
A final session looks at classroom generated research and at what teachers can hope to learn from it.
Language and Species - 15 Credits
Research into the evolution of human communication has been controversial. Shortly after the publication of Darwin's masterpiece in 1859, the topic w as 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 draw s 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 - 15 Credits
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.
Forensic Linguistics - 15 Credits
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.
Language Competencies in Career Development - 15 Credits
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.
History of the English Language - 15 Credits
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.
Research Methods in English Language & Communication - 15 Credits
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.
Learning and Teaching Language 1 - 15 Credits
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 theories of second language development and the learner, while greater emphasis is placed on the teaching of a second language in the second module.
The module examines both naturalistic methods of learning and classroom learning, discussing the impact of and typical outcomes for the learner in each condition. It considers the work of contemporary theorists, and examines factors such as the role of the L1, the different aspects of L2 knowledge and the interplay of variables that contribute to successful second language development.
Child Language & Communication - 15 Credits
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.
Clinical Linguistics - 15 Credits
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.
Language & Communication Project - 30 Credits
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 Processing - 15 Credits
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
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 organization 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
Communication and Cultures - 15 Credits
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.
Meaning and Context - 15 Credits
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.
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.
Gender in Language and Communication - 15 Credits
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.
Global Englishes - 15 Credits
This module will focus on the global spread of the English language, which is no longer used only by native speakers but increasingly by speakers from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Despite these changes, the native speaker continues to dominate in English Language Teaching. This module will explore various issues in the spread of English, including: the influence of other languages on English; the rise, standardisation, ideology and ownership of English; varieties of English across the world (including ‘New Englishes’, English as a Lingua Franca, pidgins & creoles); attitudes towards varieties of English and the pedagogical implications of these issues for English Language Teaching in the context of Global Englishes.
Corpus-based Studies in English Language - 15 Credits
In this module you will learn how to use electronic databases (corpora) to address research questions in English Language & Communication. We will look at a range of different corpora (spoken, written, different genres and speakers) to see how they are adapted for research both qualitatively and quantitatively. We will explore areas of English Language (including word use, collocations, discourse, gender, language change, language teaching, translation), select suitable corpora for investigation and analyse the data output. In this module we will also address issues in the compilation of corpus data and the way corpus investigations can impact on theories of language.
Fees & funding
£9250 for the 2019/2020 academic year
£1155 per 15 credits for the 2019/2020 academic year
£12350 for the 2019/2020 academic year
£1540 per 15 credits for the 2019/2020 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.
GCSE Maths grade 4 (D) and English Language grade 4 (C) or above.
The University of Hertfordshire is committed to welcoming students with a wide range of qualifications and levels of experience. The entry requirements listed on the course pages provide a guide to the minimum level of qualifications needed to study each course. However, we have a flexible approach to admissions and each application will be considered on an individual basis.
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.