Module Details

LG554-7-AU-CO: Analysing Language In Society: Research Methods

Year: 2017/18
Department: Language and Linguistics
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Professor Peter Patrick
Teaching Staff: Prof. Peter Patrick
Contact details: Prof. Peter Patrick, Room: 4.328, Ext: 2088, Email

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

This course is required for all MA students doing sociolinguistics. It aims to give you a foundation in some of the primary methods often used in sociolinguistic research. We draw on a variety of methods & traditions, including quantitative and qualitative approaches, as well as those used in dialectology, variation, ethnography of speech, discourse & conversation analysis. The history of sociolinguistics is largely the development & refinement of an empirical method. We therefore draw on both classic & updated techniques, considering different ways to collect data & begin linguistic analysis.
This is a course about doing -- learning how to perform basic research tasks. It differs from other courses in that we will not so much survey an existing body of knowledge, as learn how to discover & create new knowledge. Readings are more often practical & technical than theoretical or investigative. It also differs from many modules in that the methods studied here do not belong to a particular sub-discipline, but can be applied to various existing, new or combined approaches.
Our survey plans to cover:
* Ethnographic observation and note-taking
* Methods of sampling populations of speakers
* How to approach informants
* The design and use of simple questionnaires
* The central role of sociolinguistic interviews...
* ...and of participant-observation techniques
* Problems in eliciting and recording natural speech
* Approaches to record-keeping and their consequences, and
* The ethics of (socio-)linguistic research (esp. responsibilities to the speakers & communities we study)

Learning and Teaching Methods

1x 2-hour session per week; varies between lecture, class and workshop


100 per cent Coursework Mark


100% Coursework

Other information

Module webpage for previous years contains much more detailed information about module, including calendar, assignments, reading lists, online notes and weblinks. Some information will change for the coming year. A recent previous module page is available online at:


  • See Talis Aspire

Further information