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English Language & Linguistics BA(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code/apply Year of entry
3 years full time See course combinations for joint honours UCAS codes 2016
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2016

Why choose this course?

In the field of English language and communication, you will explore the fascinating workings of human language in everyday life. You will analyse spoken, written and multimodal communication in a wide range of real-world contexts with specific reference to English and its variations.

The course is designed to develop your ability to describe language at different levels and analyse the functions of talk and discourse in everyday and institutional settings, media and advertising, and digital environments. Teaching and learning is led by staff research interests which include sociolinguistics, stylistics, pragmatics, cognitive linguistics, second language acquisition, and sociocultural linguistics.

See the course combinations section for more information about the different joint honours options.

Watch this video to find out what our students have to say about studying this course at Kingston University:

What will you study?

In Year 1 you will be introduced to the way language is organised as a system and how it is used in real-life contexts. You will explore how written English has evolved and consider the impact of digital technologies on contemporary writing practices. You will develop competence in describing and analysing language, and will acquire a range of writing and interactional skills to allow you to communicate in different contexts. There is also the opportunity to learn a foreign language.

In Year 2, depending on your choice of modules, you may find yourself accounting for how a child acquires its mother tongue, analysing how style is created in a literary text, or investigating differences that can be linked to social factors. You will develop competence in a range of research methods to advance your knowledge of language use, variation and change in society. Grants are available for study in one of Kingston University's partner institutions in Europe or in the United States for one or two semesters.

In Year 3, you will have the opportunity to specialise in an area of your choice in an extended piece of work. Under the guidance of specialist teaching staff, you will develop your ability to work independently and think and write critically. This programme is also enhanced by opportunities to relate theory to practice in a professional context, which can include the workplace setting.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Year 1 (Level 4)

  • This module is a core requirement for students of English Language and Communication. It introduces students to language as a tool for human communication drawing on linguistics and its related disciplines. The main features of the module are (a) its focus on the analysis of language use and meaning in context and (b) its concern with key issues in intercultural communication.

    Students will study language as communication in its social and cultural contexts and gain an insight into the formation of meaning and social relationships. The module will initiate students to the key concepts and frameworks for describing and analysing discourse, (i.e. language above the sentence), with specific reference to meaning in context, talk in interaction, narrative practices and discourse strategies in intercultural encounters.  

    By the end of this module, students should have gained an insight into the nature of human communication and feel competent at discussing instances of everyday and institutional communication, demonstrating familiarity with the key frameworks in the study of communication in linguistics.  This module will also encourage the development of students’ interactional and intercultural competencies.  

  • This module is a core requirement for students of English Language and Communication. It introduces students to the field starting with an overview of the historical development and world variations of English. From language with a small 'l', the module moves on to the study of Language with a big 'L'  considering the properties that make it a unique medium of human communication and exploring its multifaceted relation to cognition. Students are initiated to the enquiry of language as a system and language as action, considering how speakers can produce and understand speech, how they can mean more than they say, how they ordinarily do things with language and fulfil a wide range of functions. The main features of the module are (a) its focus on the description and analysis of language at different levels, namely phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics (b) its overview of the key principles in contemporary linguistic enquiry.

    Students will gain a basic understanding of how language works and will be introduced to the key concepts and frameworks for describing and analysing language in terms of its different constituents (sounds, words, phrases, sentences, utterances), with specific reference to the underlying principles for combining them in meaningful ways. The module will provide the foundations for students for further study at Levels 5 and 6. 


Year 2 (Level 5)

  • In this core module, students will engage critically with the complex relationship between language and society from a range of sociolinguistic perspectives and they will be encouraged to develop their research skills in preparation for the requirements of Level 6. In the first teaching block, lectures and seminar discussions will touch upon major debates regarding gender, sexuality and power in popular, media and scholarly discourses, showcasing how key approaches and methods in sociolinguistics have been applied to the study of language and gender. Weekly sessions focus on the interaction between language and gender in mixed and single-sex talk in both private and public spheres and consider the advantages and limitations of variationist, conversation and discourse analysis perspectives to the study of language and gender.

    In the second teaching block, sessions introduce students to key sociolinguistic research and findings that shed light into how and why different speakers systematically vary their language use in relation to a range of social factors, such as class, social status, age, ethnicity, gender. Sessions then move on to explore how and why individual speakers alternate between styles and languages on different occasions drawing on sociolinguistic models of style and code-switching/code-mixing. In the course of this module, students will be introduced to key research methods in the field of sociolinguistics as a way of learning to evaluate qualitative and quantitative approaches to the study of language and society and to conduct their own sociolinguistic projects, taking into account issues of ethics and permission. 


  • This module explores the linguistic study of style and meaning in a range of contexts, such as spoken and written mediums, including natural conversation, literary and media texts. It brings together work from the fields of stylistics and pragmatics to consider how we use and understand language in use. The topics presented in this module focus on contextual meaning and its effects, exploring aspects of language and creativity, as well as key theories and frameworks in stylistics and pragmatics to understand how style and meaning are created and interpreted. The module builds on the foundational knowledge acquired at Level 4 and prepares students for work at Level 6 by introducing concepts and ideas that can be explored in Special Studies or as a final-year English Language and Communication Dissertation project.

  • This is an optional module for students taking English Language and Communication in Level 5, and will appeal to students who are interested in developing their understanding of how language is perceived and processed. This module focuses on first and second language acquisition and the relationship between language and cognition (debate might include questions concerning the relationship between language and thought, modularity of mind, Universal Grammar, etc.). Students are encouraged to comprehend and explain the nature and relationship between first and second language acquisition/learning as well as first and second language learning processes, e.g. the critical period hypothesis and bilingualism or the differences between child and adult learners. The major strands of the module cover the underlying language systems and language processing; the course considers how children or adults acquire the various components of their native language, e.g. phonology, morphology, syntax and socio-pragmatic knowledge. Students examine psychological and linguistic theories of linguistic and cognitive development and review some empirical evidence of the nature and effects of input. Students are expected to engage with the nature of researching language acquisition and the challenges this poses for researchers. Other languages apart from English will be used to highlight how language is represented in the mind of bilinguals. Students are encouraged to analyse and critique major theories and models in the light of their own learning experiences. The module is also aimed at giving students solid foundation of applied linguistics in which areas from psychology, cognition, computing and biology also enrich their understanding. The topics will cover linguistic, psychological as well as pedagogical perspectives.


Year 3 (Level 6)

  • This module provides the opportunity for students to prepare a sustained piece of independent research in the field of English Language and Communication. The course begins with a programme of dissertation and research interactive lectures which provide introductory advice on how to undertake independent work at this level. Students work with a subject specialist supervisor to develop and produce an extended research essay on a topic of research they have agreed with the teaching team via the submission of a dissertation proposal.  All students present their work at a student conference to be held at the end of the second teaching block.

  • This module covers key topics in applied linguistics, sociolinguistics and intercultural communication taking a ‘practice to theory’ approach designed to engage students with real-world issues. Through interactive lectures, student-led seminars, personal tutorials, guest talks and online learning journals, students are encouraged to reflect theoretically on issues of language, culture and communication in the classroom, the workplace and business contexts and gain a research-based understanding of communication matters in contemporary professional and institutional settings. The module’s focus on professional interactional and writing skills as well as its links to Kingston’s KU Talent activities and events guides students in planning their careers and developing their employability skills.

  • This module will explore discourse aspects of social media in our globalising world, drawing on theories and methodologies developed in linguistics, sociolinguistics, critical discourse analysis and linguistic anthropology. Students will have the opportunity to research language and communication in a range of social media, including social networking sites, such as Facebook, media sharing sites like YouTube and Flickr, wikis, and other sites of (micro)blogging, such as Twitter.

  • This module explores ideas from a wide range of disciplines and introduces students to some of the key concepts in the study of meaning. It begins by considering work in the philosophy of language on what it means to ‘mean’ something and moves on to the distinction between the context-dependent meaning inherent in language-in-use – the domain of pragmatics – and context-independent meaning – the domain of linguistic semantics.   Students will consider how different linguistic elements interact with the discourse context to contribute to the communicative act, and we will also consider the role played by extra-linguistic aspects of communication such as facial expression, gesture and body language.


You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Most of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's study abroad programme or Erasmus programme.

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Arts and Social Sciences Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 2378/2361
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This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

View Penrhyn Road on our Google Maps

Ask a question about this course

Arts and Social Sciences Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 2378/2361
Email us


This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

View Penrhyn Road on our Google Maps
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