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Inside Language

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What is language? How do children learn language? Do animals use language? We will investigate these questions and more in order to understand the value and importance of language study in the modern world.

We live in an age of communication overload, transmitting and receiving language from all directions throughout every waking hour of our lives. We use words to speak, write, text, email and tweet, we continually express ourselves through gestures and body language, and we adapt our discourse to a wide variety of contexts in thousands of subtle and complex ways. Yet we rarely pause to reflect on how language works - we rarely have the opportunity.

This course is for anyone with an interest in language and communication and the enthusiasm to take that interest further. It operates as part of the Inside Narratives pathway, and will equip you with the knowledge, understanding and skills that will help you to study other courses in the pathway. No previous knowledge is assumed and students wishing to take this as a standalone course are also very welcome.

Learning and teaching

This module is taught in 9, two-hour sessions, delivered on a weekly basis.

These sessions will include lectures, class discussions and group-work, source analysis activities and exercises to develop your academic skills. There will also be an opportunity for learning outside of the classroom, facilitated by the University's Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central.

Coursework and assessment

Students will be expected to complete three pieces of assessed work:

  1. a 300-word reflective piece
  2. a 600-word analysis of a short piece of text
  3. a 1000-word essay.

Advice and support will be provided for all three assignments and you will receive detailed feedback relating to strengths and areas for improvement on both pieces of work.

Reading suggestions

  • Coupland, N., and Jaworski, A. (2009) The New Sociolinguistics Reader. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Saeed, J. (1996) Semantics, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
  • Sampson, G. (2005) The ‘Language Instinct’ Debate. London: Continuum.
  • Wardhaugh, R., and Fuller, J. M. (2014) An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Somerset: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
  • Yule, G. (2020) The Study of Language (7th edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.