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Special Study: Discourse and Social Media

  • Module code: EN6009
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 6
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: Successful completion of Level 5 requirements
  • Co-requisites: None


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.


Permit a detailed and extensive study of an area in applied linguistics, focusing on developing an understanding of the key issues at stake and of the range of theoretical positions taken on those issues in the literature.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of and discuss key ideas in the area of applied linguistics studies
  • develop their own original ideas on the central issues discussed
  • work independently and manage their time efficiently
  • demonstrate the ability to conceptualise and structure an extended piece of writing

Curriculum content

  • Researching the Internet: virtual ethnography, data collection and ethics
  • Genres in the Internet: beyond speech-writing dichotomies
  • Exploring language and technology
  • Online and offline identities
  • Communities in cyberspace

Teaching and learning strategy

Teaching will be conducted via weekly two-hour interactive lectures in Teaching Block 1 and weekly seminars, reading groups, and personal tutorials in Teaching Block 2. Activities within the two-hour interactive lectures will involve tutor-led presentations of key theories and principles relevant to the specialised area of study and student-led discussions of readings, work-in-progress or language data samples.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Interactive Lectures 14
Scheduled learning and teaching Seminars/Reading Groups/Personal Tutorials 30
Guided independent study Guided independent study and preparation for assessment 256
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Assessment will comprise (i) an extended piece of writing, in which students will be expected to present their own ideas, drawing appropriately on a wide range of scholarly sources, (ii) one piece of practical work that will allow students to explore their chosen topic creatively, independently and practically in a range of possible formats, such as web-based, audio-visual, textual, etc. and (iii) an oral presentation on the topic of the extended essay. Portfolio equivalence 8500 words.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
demonstrate an understanding of and discuss key ideas in the area of applied linguistics studied; Assessed formatively through in-class discussions and summatively through the extended essay.
develop their own original ideas on the central issues discussed; Assessed formatively and summatively through both assessment components.
work independently and to manage their time efficiently; Assessed summatively through the extended essay and practical project.
demonstrate the ability to conceptualise and structure an extended piece of writing. Assessed summatively through the extended essay.

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK Portfolio 100
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS a requirement that the major category of assessment is passed in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Baron, N. (2008) Always on: Language in an Online and Mobile World. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Baym, N. (2010) Personal Connections in the Digital Age. Cambridge: Polity Press

Thurlow, C., Lengel, L. & Tomic, A. 2004. Computer-Mediated Communication: Social Interaction and the Internet. London: Sage.

Bibliography recommended reading

Crystal, D. (2001) Language and the Internet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Danet, B. & Herring, S. (eds.) (2007) The Multilingual Internet: Language, Culture and Communication Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hutchby, I. 2001. Conversation and technology: from the telephone to the internet. Cambridge: Polity Press

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