Module code: ELI3039

Module Overview

This module, which assumes no prior knowledge of languages other than English, is intended to give students an insight into the diversity of human communication systems found throughout the world. In order to understand how language works, we need to examine the variety of systems to be found, some of which differ drastically from what we know and what we might expect.

This module builds on the skills students have developed in constructing arguments and finding evidence in support of their reasoning through their modules at Levels 4 and 5, by demonstrating how complimentary skills are applied in scientific research related to language. Students are introduced to alternative ways of thinking about the world around us to further develop their ability to scrutinise and assess evidence.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

BOND Oliver (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

Module cap (Maximum number of students): 20

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 105

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 12

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

* the distinctive properties of animal and human communication
* the similarities and differences between signed languages and spoken languages
* regional and social language variation
* multilingualism and codeswitching
* pidgins and creole languages
* differences in colour and spatial categorisation across languages
* language in the brain

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY 50
Coursework ASSIGNMENT 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the module learning outcomes.

Seminar discussion with ongoing tutor feedback is designed mainly to assess transferable skills in working independently as well as part of a group and to develop skills in formulating, defending and sustaining arguments.

Both the essay and assignment assess subject knowledge in (i) the different types of data and empirical methodologies used to study human languages and (ii) the factors that contribute to the way in which different languages or linguistic structures are used in different social contexts. They also assess cognitive/analytical skills in evaluating the outcomes of scientific experiments and case studies from linguistics within their historical and cultural context.

The essay further assesses professional/practical skills, namely the ability to conduct research for written work in an organized and critical fashion. The exam further assesses professional/practical skills, namely the ability to present ideas coherently under time constraint.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

* 2000-word essay
* 2000-word assignment

Formative assessment and feedback

* Seminar discussion with ongoing tutor feedback in seminar
* Feedback on formative student presentations linked to their essay topic

The deadline for the essay is normally in Week 8. Students receive verbal feedback on formative presentations in Week 6 before submitting their essay. This comes from both the module leader, and peers within the class. Students receive both written feedback and verbal feedback in tutorials that informs the final summative assessment.

Module aims

  • The module aims to familiarise students with: the defining characteristics of our major mode of communication, namely language
  • data from linguistic systems which differ radically from those with which they are already familiar
  • the diversity of human language from a social, linguistic and cognitive perspective
  • using different types of data to understand a field of inquiry
  • critical thinking about the types of evidence that can be used to support a scientific argument
  • oral and written communication
  • independent work and group work in seminars
  • time management through essay submission and revision planning

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 By the end of the module students will be able to: analyse the outcomes of scientific experiments and case studies from linguistics within their historical and cultural context KCT
002 Understand the different types of data and empirical methodologies used to study human languages KC
003 Identify which factors (cultural, cognitive, linguistic) contribute to the way in which different. languages or linguistic structures are used in different social contexts KC
004 Formulate, defend and sustain arguments in both written and oral form PT
005 Work independently and as part of a group PT
006 Conduct independent research for written work in an organized and critical fashion KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to deliver subject knowledge, to develop cognitive/analytical skills, and to develop in-depth transferable, practical and professional skills. Specifically, the weekly lectures deliver subject knowledge related to linguistic diversity and develop cognitive/analytical skills in interpreting the outcomes of scientific experiments and case studies from linguistics within their historical and cultural context. The weekly seminars offer student-led discussions that develop skills in formulating arguments, presenting ideas and analysis coherently while under a time constraint, and working as part of a group.

This relates to the programme learning and teaching strategy, which at FHEQ Level 6, is designed to further develop students’ analytical and rhetorical skills. As these are research-led modules, there is also more emphasis on developing students’ knowledge of critical and theoretical discourses.

The learning and teaching methods include:

2 hour seminar x 11 weeks. In each seminar students will carry out activities that develop their understanding of how we can identify, assess and evidence diversity among linguistic communities.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ELI3039

Other information

Surrey's Curriculum Framework is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas:

Resourcefulness and Resilience: This module encourages students to reflect on the evidence for diversity in the world around them, drawing on examples of linguistic variation from their own experience, as well as the experiences of others. It introduces students to methods for examining differences between social groups, so that they are able understand objectively identify and appreciate variation, differentiate between social values and purely linguistic ones, and understand factors lead to diversity in our communication practices.

Employability: This module enhances important professional skills, in particular through researching unfamiliar topics, working in assigned peer groups to complete a shared objective, preparation and delivery of a group presentation and opportunities to provide constructive feedback and feedforward to peers. Students will also learn how to interpret, present and credit qualitative and/or visual data, thereby enhancing their ability to interpret the  types of evidence they are likely to be presented within contemporary professional environments.

Global and Cultural Capabilities: The development of global and cultural capabilities is a necessary component of understanding linguistic diversity. Every activity and topic within the module develops these skills by inviting students to reflect on the linguistic, cultural and social behaviours of different speech communities in the UK and across the globe. In particular, this challenges any preconceptions of homogeneity in language use and experience and encourages students to reflect on their linguistic and social position in relation to others.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2023/4 academic year.