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Course content

In what way does society influence the way that we use language? And conversely, how far does the way we use language influence society? Can language use impact the class system? Sexism? Mental health?

On our MA Sociolinguistics, you address questions like these through exploration of the stylistic, cognitive and functional aspects of language variation and change. We familiarise you with the foundations of contemporary sociolinguistics, including:
-Language variation and change
-Ethnography of speaking
-Multilingualism
-Discourse

We additionally offer modules in some of the most prominent sub-disciplines in linguistics such as variation theory, socio-pragmatics, conversation analysis, language contact, language and gender, and language rights.

You also gain first-hand experience of interview, questionnaire and observation data and learn quantitative and qualitative methodologies for coding and analysing sociolinguistic interview and questionnaire data.

We are one of the largest and most prestigious language and linguistics departments in the world, a place where talented students become part of an academic community in which the majority of research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014), placing us firmly within the top 10 departments in the UK and ranked among the top 150 departments on the planet according to the QS World [University] Rankings [2016] for linguistics.

If you want a global outlook, are interested in human communication, and want to study for a degree with real-world practical value in a world-class department, welcome to Essex.

Our expert staff

Our staff maintain excellent student-staff ratios with capped language-specific seminars.

In sociolinguistics, Peter Patrick, Rebecca Clift, Enam Al Wer and Vineeta Chand all work on different aspects of how language varies, and investigate which factors cause such variation. Peter is also involved in language rights, and offers expert opinions in asylum cases where language is used to determine origin.

Specialist facilities

-An exciting programme of research seminars and other events
-Our Languages for All programme offers you the opportunity to study an additional language alongside your course at no extra cost
-Our ‘Visual World’ Experimental Lab records response times and eye movements when individuals are presented with pictures and videos
-Our Eye-Tracking Lab monitors eye movement of individuals performing tasks
-Our Psycholinguistics Lab measures how long it takes individuals to react to words, texts and sounds
-Our Linguistics Lab has specialist equipment to analyse sound
-Our Albert Sloman Library houses a strong collection of books, journals, electronic resources and major archives

Your future

Our course can lead to careers in areas such as academic research, publishing, journalism, administration, public service and teaching. You develop key employability skills including research design, data analysis, thinking analytically, report writing and public speaking.

We work with the University’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Within our Department of Language and Linguistics, we also offer supervision for PhD and MPhil. We offer supervision in areas including language acquisition, language learning and language teaching, culture and communication, psycholinguistics, language disorders, sociolinguistics, and theoretical and descriptive linguistics.

Our graduates are successful in a wide variety of career paths. They leave Essex with a unique set of skills and experience that are in demand by employers.

Example structure

-Variationist Sociolinguistic Theory
-Sociolinguistic Methods 1: Data Collection
-Sociolinguistic Methods: Data Coding and Analysis
-MA Dissertation
-Assignment Writing and Dissertation Preparation
-Sociocultural Linguistics
-Advanced Phonology (optional)
-First Language Acquisition (optional)
-Phonological Development (optional)
-Second Language Acquisition and Linguistics Theory (optional)
-American Languages (optional)
-Varieties of English (optional)
-Sentence Processing (optional)
-Language Rights (optional)
-Semantics (optional)
-Language Learning (optional)
-English Syntax 1 (optional)
-Individual Differences in L2 Learning (optional)
-Syntactic Theory I (optional)
-Experimental Design and Analysis (optional)
-Research Methods I (optional)
-English Syntax 2 (optional)
-Syntactic Theory II (optional)
-The Role of Age in Bilingual Development (optional)
-Variation in English II (optional)
-Research Methods II (optional)
-Graduate Research Assignment (optional)
-Language Attrition (optional)
-Language in Context: From Pragmatics to Conversation Analysis (optional)
-Intercultural Communication: communicating across languages and cultures (optional)

Visit the Sociolinguistics - MA page on the University of Essex website for more details!

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