Introduction to Sociolinguistics (PGT) ENGLANG5100

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

Sociolinguistics explores the interface between language and society. Specifically, how do social factors such as age, geography, ethnicity, social class, in tandem with the linguistic system itself, drive variation and change in language? This course provides Masters students with little or no background in linguistics with the opportunity to explore key issues and methods at the forefront of contemporary sociolinguistics.


One two-hour lecture/seminar each week plus 2 x 2 hour workshops, over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus.

This course may be taught in conjunction with ENGLANG4053, as scheduled on MyCampus.


This is one of the options for the MSc in English Language & Linguistics and the MSc in Speech, Language & Sociolinguistics, and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry


Standard entry to Masters at College level

Excluded Courses





A review report on a paper from the journal Language Variation and Change (1000 words)

A written assessment comprising a critical synthesis of findings on one linguistic variable (4000 words)

Course Aims

This course will provide the students with the opportunity to:

■ Investigate a range of specialist theories, concepts and principles of research in the field of sociolinguistic variation over the past 60 years

■ Develop a critical awareness of the key driving forces in language variation and change

■ Identify quantitative and qualitative approaches to sociolinguistic study, including the use of ethnography for sociolinguistic research

■ Identify and critically evaluate the use of quantitative methodologies in the analysis of speech data

■ Apply specialized statistical methodologies in interpreting variation in speech data.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Identify and critically interpret variation in language use

■ Reproduce, summarize, and critically assess a range of key quantitative and qualitative approaches to sociolinguistic study, including the use of ethnography for sociolinguistic research

■ Identify key social and linguistic influences which lead to language variation and change.

■ Critically evaluate the key findings from a number of seminal studies in sociolinguistics

■ Interpret the results of quantitative analysis of speech data in a range of formats

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.