What is it for sounds, gestures and marks on paper to have meaning? What are the various uses to which we can put language, and how does it manage to have the effects it has? How do we learn language? And how does the language we use reflect society, the nature of our thoughts, and what we take reality to be like?
Our BA Philosophy and English Language degree allows you to examine the nature of language, through two distinct approaches. You’ll develop a range of skills in analysing the structure of the English language and how it is used in a variety of situations, while exploring and challenging the assumptions about the nature of language, its limits and how it functions.
In your first year, alongside core linguistics modules, you’ll learn to think critically by examining how language may be used – and misused – in reasoning and persuasion. You’ll also study social and political philosophy, covering topics such as freedom of speech, and examine the nature of mind and reality.
All our philosophy lecturers are active researchers, so you’ll share the excitement of doing original work in a supportive and highly-rated academic community. Our Philosophy team is in the top 15 in the Guardian League Table 2019 and rates as one of the 100 best Philosophy departments worldwide in the 2017 QS rankings.
Our English language lecturers are research-active academics working in cutting-edge areas such as language and gender, formulaic language, corpus studies, bilingualism, bilingual processing and codeswitching.
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 study language-related real-life problems such as plagiarism and crime investigation in forensic linguistics. In Philosophy, you may explore a wide variety of topics, including the option to learn some languages of logic.
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. In Philosophy, there is the option to study more advanced contemporary themes and theories in the philosophy of language, and also to take a module which focuses in particular on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s influential work on the nature of language.
A flexible programme of study, allowing you to concentrate on areas you find especially interesting
An exceptional academic team, conducting internationally renowned research
Stimulating, innovative courses that allow you to make rewarding connections between two disciplines
CV-building potential through extra-curricular activities
I certainly developed professionalism and employability through studying Philosophy, primarily through the methods of rational and logical problem solving. I acquired a skill that is useful in whatever field one works in. However, it is enterprise that I most notably improved on while at Herts.
I had never really considered starting a businesses or working for myself, but while studying Philosophy (particularly my Masters by Research and my undergraduate dissertation) I realised I was learning self-management and combining this with my new proficiency at problem solving sent me down a new path. Since leaving Herts I have set up multiple small business which are growing healthily.
This individuality has really helped me find out what I want to do in life.
BA(Hons) Philosophy 2010-2013, MA(Res) in Philosophy 2013-2015
Philosophy students benefit from being part of a lively and active academic community. You’ll learn through formal courses and extracurricular seminars, while our small group teaching helps you to find your feet in the academic environment. There are plenty of opportunities to discuss critical issues with staff and fellow students, including an optional residential weekend each year.
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.
Taking a year’s study abroad is an excellent opportunity to broaden your understanding of the world. Living in another country offers fresh perspectives and helps create global citizens. Recently our philosophy students have studied in the USA, Canada, Japan and South Korea, enhancing their learning, building their confidence and gaining a greater appreciation of other cultures and societies.
We live in a world of persuasion. Advertisers would persuade us to buy their products while politicians press their policies on us. In personal life too, others want us to see things their way. We, of course, want others (colleagues, friends and family) to agree with us, to be persuaded by our arguments. Rhetoric is the art of persuasive speech and writing. It has been studied both for academic interest and for its practical, business and legal usefulness since ancient times. This module will explore the reasons why some persuasive efforts work while others do not. It will develop your ability to judge when you ought to be persuaded by the arguments of others and to present your own views in a way that increases their persuasive force.
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.
Social and Political Philosophy - 15 Credits
How should our society function and what implications does this have for the individual? How should goods (e.g. property, services, rights, liberties, power) be distributed in society? On what basis can some people claim ownership of property? What is exploitation and how might it be addressed? What is equality? On what basis can someone 'in authority' tell me what (or what not) to do? And if I don't do as they say, on what basis can I be punished for it? What is a legitimate way to protest against a state? What are rights? Do all humans have rights or are some to be excluded? What are our obligations to future generations, to non-human animals, and to the environment in general?
Mind, Knowledge and Reality - 15 Credits
Sometimes we misperceive the world. Sometimes, whilst asleep, we take ourselves to be doing things which we are not in fact doing. And, furthermore, there is no evidence we could bring to bear which would eliminate the possibility that an evil demon is continually deceiving us about how the world is. To what extent does all of this undermine our claims to know anything? What is the link between reality and the way we perceive it? Can we at least know that we have a mind, if not a body? What is the relationship between the mind and the body? What is the relationship between mind and body and being a person? What does it take the remain the same person over a lifetime? Indeed, how can anything undergo change and yet remain the same thing?
Ethics - 15 Credits
Can you be harmed by something without ever experiencing it as a harm? Is what we experience all that should matter to us? What should we value? What is an ethical dilemma and is there a good way to resolve them? Can you be held morally responsible for something which is to some extent not within your control? To what extent should you be held morally responsible for anything? Could you eschew morality altogether? Do you ever act altruistically? What are we even doing when we make ethical judgements?
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.
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.
Language and Mind - 15 Credits
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.
Philosophy of Film and Literature - 15 Credits
The central theme of the module is to investigate what it is possible for film and literature to represent. How do we establish what is true in a fiction? Can the impossible happen in fiction? How, if at all, do we manage to engage with fictions that we take to be metaphysically or morally problematic (such as H.G.Wells' The Time Machine or Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita)? In what sense can film and literature explore not only how things actually are but how things could have been? Is there a difference between what can be represented in film and what can be represented in literature? We tackle these questions by engaging with various films and works of literature to see how they fit within a philosophical framework for thinking about them.
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.
The Meaning of Life - 15 Credits
Does anything give meaning to life? Does the fact that we will die render our striving to achieve anything of significance ultimately futile, even ridiculous? Would God’s existence or non-existence have any bearing on an answer to this question? Does it even make sense to ask about the meaningfulness of our lives? Might we better approach the meaning of life through thinking about what it would take for activities within a lifetime to have meaning?
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.
Themes in Plato's Republic - 15 Credits
If you could get away with morally unjust behaviour, why should you act morally? What would an 'ideal society' be like? What is the relationship between justice in the individual, and justice in society? This course investigates several major themes in Plato's philosophy. After an introduction to the importance of Socrates and the nature of Socratic enquiry, we shall focus predominantly upon the Republic - one of the most important texts in the history of western thought - in which the above questions are central. The course will aim to show connections between Plato's metaphysics and theory of knowledge, and his ethics, political thought and philosophy of art and literature. Students will develop their skills in reading, assessing and advancing arguments.
The Right and The Good - 15 Credits
Is happiness the only thing of value? According to Utilitarianism, my moral duty is to promote happiness. What do we mean by "happiness"? If our moral duty is to promote happiness does this mean that we are justified in adopting any means, including killing, that might promote happiness? Kant is one philosopher who considers that we should value human beings in their own right and this introduces constraints on what we are morally justified in doing. We have duties to assist and also not to harm other human beings. We study these two theories by looking at Mill's ‘Utilitarianism’ and Kant's ‘Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals’. Application of these theories to moral dilemmas chosen by students will form the topic of the presentation. For example, is it ever morally right to use violence or terrorism in the pursuit of peace? Should we ever assist anyone to commit suicide?
Philosophy of Mind - 15 Credits
What are mental states? How do they relate to human actions? What is consciousness? Is there a real difference between the mental and the physical? This course explores philosophical approaches to understanding the nature of mind which range from dualism to strong forms of materialism. Students will be trained in the use of relevant terminology and will develop their skills in reading, assessing and advancing arguments. Students will be assessed on their knowledge and understanding of at least two approaches/issues in the philosophy of mind, their use of relevant terminology and their ability to produce structured arguments, which anticipate possible replies, in the form of essays.
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.
Knowledge and Discovery - 15 Credits
What kind of justification is required to be able to say not just that we believe something but that we know it? Must we be able to cite reasons for believing something before we can be said to know it, or is it enough for those beliefs to have been generated in a reliable way? Must knowledge rest on a foundation that is immune from error, or are beliefs justified by being part of a network of mutually supporting beliefs? We shall discuss the extent to which the particular observations we make give us reason to believe (or disbelieve) general claims about the world and, further, what counts as a good explanation for why that thing has happened. We shall consider not just beliefs about those things we can see with our own eyes but whether there is any reason to believe in those things which we cannot observe directly (e.g., the very small and the very distant).
Philosophy of Art - 15 Credits
We go to museums, read novels, listen to music, talk about art. But what is art? In this module, we survey the main theories of art throughout history, observing as we go along, that while each theory has added to our understanding of art, it has not defined it once and for all. At the end of the survey, we shall ask whether a comprehensive definition is possible, or even necessary to our understanding of art. The survey will take us through passages from authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Tolstoy, Hume, Kant, Collingwood, Wittgenstein, Danto, Dickie and Wollheim. We will ask ourselves: Is art is a matter of personal taste or are there intersubjective criteria in the determination of art? Where is the boundary between art and craft? How is art related to morality? Is Tracy Emin's My Bed art; if so, is it good art? What makes anything art?
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.
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.
Metaphysics - 15 Credits
Metaphysics asks the most general questions about the most fundamental features of the world. How should we understand space, time and causation? Does time flow? Does the future already exist? Is space a substance? Is it possible for me to do something now so as to affect what happened in the past? What are things and what does it take for them to persist over time? What is it for things to have properties, such as being red? What are properties? Do they exist in the same way that the things that have them do? What else exists? Does reality extend beyond what is actual?
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.
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.
Philosophies of Religion - 15 Credits
This module focuses on the philosophies of religion that arise from the analytic (Anglo-American), European, and Asian (especially Buddhist) traditions. Its primary focus is a body of philosophical texts on religion by classic thinkers from these diverse traditions.
Through these writings, you will be invited to consider how such different philosophical perspectives approach a series of questions they have in common, questions such as: What role do happiness and suffering play in religious thinking and practice? What is the relevance of the body and of embodiment to religion? What role is played by experience in religious faith and practice? How do reason and faith relate to each other? What goal is served by religious language? Is there such a thing as a distinctively philosophical approach to religion, given the differences between these diverse traditions?
Virtues, Vices and Ethics - 15 Credits
The primary focus of this module is a body of writing, primarily by contemporary thinkers, on specific personal virtues and corresponding vices.
We shall reflect upon such 'everyday' issues as pride, humility, gratitude, love, hope, patience and forgiveness. You will be invited to consider the contribution that both philosophy and religion have made to our understanding of the virtues.
An important part of the module will be to ask, in the light of contemporary writings, what difference religious perspectives might make to secular understandings of the nature of virtue and vice, and the implications of this for what the ‘good life’ for human beings might be. The module will typically draw on writings from more than one religious tradition.
Logic and Philosophy - 15 Credits
Logic and philosophy have been intimately connected since ancient times. Logic provides some conceptual tools which can be very helpful in clarifying ideas and developing convincing arguments. But, as you will see in the module, the ideas and arguments which can be expressed depend on which system of logic is adopted. In learning elements of various systems of logic, we will consider the philosophical issues raised by them. Which ideas can be expressed in logic? Might we lose something in translation when expressing ideas in a logical language rather than in English? Are there any sentences which are neither true nor false? To what extent can logic help in deciding what we should believe in? Many of these issues are at the cutting edge of contemporary philosophy.
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.
Aristotle P - 15 Credits
Is there a method to philosophy? Are we rational animals? Do all living things have a purpose? What is the good life or is there more than one? Is ethics primarily concerned with virtue? These questions, which are still of relevance today, will be explored by an examination of Aristotle's central works.
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
Nietzsche, Genealogy and Morality - 15 Credits
Nietzsche famously claimed that 'God is dead'. But what does he mean by this? What ramifications would the 'death of God' have for morality and human flourishing? What would a 'Nietzschean' view of self and world look like? And what religious responses to Nietzsche's challenge are possible? With these questions in mind, this module investigates key aspects of Nietzsche's thought. Typically, after an introduction to his styles of philosophizing, the 'hermeneutics of suspicion', and his 'moral perfectionism', we shall focus upon his influential critique of morality. We shall investigate his account of ressentiment, guilt and 'bad conscience', alongside central Nietzschean ideas such as the will to power, eternal recurrence and 'self-overcoming'. We'll also consider some possible critical responses to his worldview. The central text will be On the Genealogy of Morality.
Philosophy of Language - 15 Credits
Marks, sounds and gestures can all have meaning. But what is it for them to have meaning and how do they manage to have it? Is the meaning of my words to be analysed in terms of my intentions to communicate with another or the conventions I subscribe to when using words? In what way is meaning related to truth and my being warranted in asserting what I say? What other things can we do with words than state truths? How should we understand metaphorical uses of language? How do names and descriptions in particular manage to pick out objects in the world? Are some things I say true solely in virtue of the meanings of the words I use? Is there anything that fixes what it is that I do mean when I use words, or is meaning, to some extent, indeterminate? Can a study of language tell us anything about reality?
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.
Philosophy of Psychology - 15 Credits
‘Blindsighters’ can judge with around 90% accuracy whether experimenters are showing them either a cross or a circle, and are able to discriminate colours, despite being completely blind due to a form of brain damage. The job of philosophers of psychology is to settle what this phenomenon, and related ones, means for the nature of the mind. Does it show that blindsighters ‘see’ colours etc., unconsciously? That would suggest mere perception is insufficient for consciousness, and we must then investigate what must be added to make a percept conscious. Or does blindsight simply demonstrate that there is a completely blind ‘visual information system’ in humans, operating alongside normal conscious vision? And would that mean conscious vision plays only a secondary role in daily life (is our behaviour somewhat more ‘automatic’ than we believe)? This module investigates key psychological phenomena and examines philosophical theories as to their significance for the human mind.
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.
*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.