English Language BA (Hons) (with Foundation Year)
UCAS Code: Q311|Duration: 4 years|Full Time|Hope Park
UCAS Campus Code: L46
Work placement opportunities|International students can apply|Study Abroad opportunities
About the course
Language has a profound influence on the way we see, construct and interpret the world around us. It shapes our identities and culture and can be used to manipulate the way we think. The English Language degree examines a wide range of varieties of English in their social, cultural and historical contexts. It teaches you how to closely analyse texts ranging from everyday discourse to fictional narratives to the language of the media.
Studying English Language provides you with a sound knowledge of how language is structured, how it developed and spread globally, and how it functions both in society and in our minds, but it also equips you with a variety of practical critical and analytical skills. We pride ourselves on offering a challenging and stimulating degree with a wide range of innovative teaching and assessment methods. We place an emphasis on employability through how language is used for professional purposes and the practical and transferable skills valuable in selected careers.
You will be taught by academics who are actively engaged in research and have published in their specialist fields. You will also benefit from the University’s Special Collections in the library, home to over 75,000 printed materials and complemented by an environmentally controlled vault that houses rare books and manuscripts from as early as the ninth century, as well as our close links with Liverpool’s cultural institutions. With a strong commitment to small-group teaching and the personal development of all of our students, we strive to support you in the pursuit of academic excellence.
Teaching on this degree is structured into lectures, where all students are taught together, seminars which are smaller groups, and tutorials which typically have no more than 10 students in the first year. You also have the opportunity to have a one-to-one meeting with your tutor each week.
As part of a Combined Honours degree, in your first year there are approximately 6 teaching hours each week, which reduce to approximately 5 teaching hours in your second and third years. On the Single Honours programme, you will have approximately 12 teaching hours each week with approximately 10 teaching hours in your second and third years.
On top of teaching hours, you will also be expected to spend a number of hours each week studying independently, as well as studying in groups to prepare for any group assessments you may have.
Assessment and feedback
Assessments consist of essays of various types, portfolios, language analyses, learning journals, group presentations and written exams. In the final year, building on work from your first two years, you undertake an independently researched dissertation or research project which you also present at an internal Honours Conference.
You will be given written feedback on your assessments, and you will have the opportunity to discuss this with your tutor in more detail.
The Foundation Year is a great opportunity if you have the ability and enthusiasm to study for a degree, but do not yet have the qualifications required to enter directly onto our degree programmes. A significant part of the Foundation Year focuses upon core skills such as academic writing at HE level, becoming an independent learner, structuring academic work, critical thinking, time management and note taking.
Successful completion of the Foundation Year will enable you to progress into the first year (Level C) of your chosen honours degree. Further details can be found here.
The first year introduces you to the major themes in the study of English Language. You will look at the way English has developed and changed over time, how it impacts on our everyday lives and how it is used in communication. To underpin your studies in these areas, you will learn how to describe the structures, sounds and meanings of English and be introduced to the writing and research skills that support your studies.
Language and Society
You will explore the complex ways in which language intersects with society. Your discussions will range from multilingual societies, and attitudes to language to the way language varies according to such things as class, region and gender.
Understanding Language examines the building blocks of language including Phonetics and Phonology, Grammar and Semantics. During the series of lectures for Understanding Language, you will learn about the sounds of language and how you produce them, how sounds are organised and you will learn to transcribe English sounds using the International Phonetic Alphabet. In Grammar, you will learn how words are formed, and also learn to identify the different parts of speech and how they are parsed in sentences through learning to draw tree structure diagrams. In Semantics, you will learn about how we make meaning through various linguistic devices. Phonetics is one of the most fun courses that you can learn. During this course you will learn the IPA, which will be like learning a new language.
History and Change
This course strand will give you a great opportunity to dive back into the past and go on a journey of how English language began and how it changed over time in response to wider historical, cultural and technological changes. We will look chronologically at these changes and developments, starting before written record even began, then following the various stages of English from its oldest forms in the early Middle Ages, until arriving at the 21st century. You will learn how to identify and analyse how language features, such as words, meanings, grammar or writing systems change over time, how historical events impact on language, and how attitudes to language usage shift in response to standardisation and globalisation.
If you study English Language as a Single Honours programme, you will also study the following:
Language Endangerment, Policy and Planning
Language is constantly changing and subject to social pressures, changes in populations and even political decisions. This part of the course introduces you to the key issues in the field of societal multilingualism, particularly language policy and planning. On this part of the course, you will develop an awareness of the social, historical and political contexts in which language is studies; as well as knowledge and understanding of the main issues relating to language variation drawing on theoretical and methodological approaches.
Language in use varies for a range of reasons including regional, social and cultural factors. This part of the course allows you to explore how and why accent and dialect vary according to region, gender, class, ethnicity and so on, as well as considering how this impacts on the study of language. You will study such topics as the relationship between language and migration and language attitudes.
Language of Literature
This part of the course will introduce you to the principles and tools of stylistic analysis. You will examine the relationship of language choice to textual effects. You will acquire a range of skills based tools and frameworks appropriate for the study of poetry, drama and prose fiction which will enable you to carry out close linguistic analyses of literary texts and present evidence in support of your interpretations of those texts.
This part of the course enhances your studies in the history and change of the English Language by focusing on its earliest forms and the historical contexts in which they arose. You will acquire a working knowledge of Old and Middle English grammar and vocabulary and be able to translate them into Present Day English.
The English Benchmarking Statement, compiled by senior academics from across the country, outlines what is expected of a degree in English and what is expected of graduates.
It notes that English degrees provide students with:
‘advanced literacy and communication skills and the ability to apply these in appropriate contexts, including the ability to present sustained and persuasive written and oral arguments cogently and coherently.’
This writing workshop will develop your existing writing and communication skills alongside helping you to develop strategies for effective learning and assessment.
English Language Research
Language surrounds us and is a rich source of data for analysis. This part of the course will introduce the different methods of and tools for researching English language as well as enabling you to to find, assess, and use a variety of primary and secondary resources, including materials found online. You will learn how to incorporate the resources appropriately in your studies and writing.
The second year continues your journey through language by examining its use and acquisition in different social and functional contexts. The second year also in introduces a professional strand where you explore the possible ways in which our understanding of language can be applied in the workplace.
You will apply your understanding of the structures and properties of language to explore and understand the way in which people use texts in spoken and written communication. You will examine the details of how conversation works as well as looking at the way in which advertising, newspapers and fictional texts position readers as having particular beliefs. You will also look at where fiction and fact intersect in the examination of serial killer discourse.
Language and Mind
Making use of an extensive range of transcripts of children’s talk, you will explore theories of first language acquisition. You will develop your ability to identify language patterns across different children considering how age, gender and exceptional circumstances impact on the rate and level at which language competence is achieved.
Language and Law/TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
You will make a choice between 2 options based on the intersection of language knowledge and the wider professional world. Language and Law allows you to explore the ways in which language is used in court rooms, police interviews, the construction of laws and wills. This provides an excellent foundation for further study in Forensic linguistics or Law and also provides an insight into issues in policing and crime prevention. TESOL introduces you to the techniques of teaching English to speakers of other languages. You will develop both skills and understandings that allow you to plan and deliver teaching sessions for those acquiring English. This provides an excellent foundation for going on to a formal TESOL qualification which opens doors around the world.
Continuing the theme of the intersection of language and professional contexts, you will explore language issues in society through a series of ‘sandbox exercises’ which take our understanding of language into a workplace scenario. For example, you may be asked to imagine how you would carry out research on the language tuition needs of newly arrived refugees. Here you will develop your teamwork abilities in preparation for a workplace environment as well as research skills in preparation for your individual research that you complete as part of your third year studies.
As a Single Honours English Language student, you will also study:
Processes of Language Change
This part of the course combines several different areas of linguistic research – historical linguistics, language variation and change, dialectology, internet linguistics, and onomastics (name studies), and considers the diachronic processes of change on all levels of language: phonology and phonetics (sound system), morphology and syntax (grammar), lexis (vocabulary) and semantics (meaning), as well as pragmatics and discourse. It also considers synchronic variation on these levels (as precursors for potential change), including the most recent changes to language due to introduction of digital technologies (internet, social media).
Stylistics of Narrative
Human beings make sense of the world, in part, through the stories we tell. On this part of the course, you will develop your knowledge of a range of linguistic tools to be able to provide evidence to support your interpretations of narrative texts. This is a skills-based element where you will learn to apply diverse tools and theoretical frameworks, from foregrounding to Deictic Shift theory, in the close linguistic analysis of prose fiction. You will begin to take a critical approach to the theories and methods of analysis and explore a broad range of narrative types.
“Linguistic anthropology is an interdisciplinary field dedicated to the study of language as a cultural resource and speaking as a cultural practice. It assumes that the human language faculty is a cognitive and a social achievement that provides the intellectual tools for thinking and acting in the world.” Lectures will introduce you to key topics in this discipline such as how is language distinctly human, and how does it relate to other forms of communication? What is the relationship between the language we speak and the way we see, understand and view the world? What is the connection between language and the culture that we live in? Throughout the course we will draw on examples of language and cultures throughout the world and consider how people actually use language, imagine language and talk about it.
Language and Identity
Identity construction is a crucial aspect of how we use language and this part of the course looks at the intersection of language and identity from a social psychology of language perspective, with a focus on the manner in which speakers use language as a tool to express and construct their own social identities as well as the manner in which they draw inferences about the social identities of others based purely on the way in which these others use language.
Philosophy of Language
This part of the course introduces you to ideas around how philosophers and linguists have considered language. The aim is to consider broad questions underlying the study of language and how theories and assumptions influence what linguists say about language and how we study it.
In the third year you will continue your examination of language in use in social contexts and the impact that language has. You will also consider the role of technology in working with language data. Alongside these topics, you will also complete a dissertation or research project which is based on your own particular area of interest and your own research.
Language and Power
Power is more than an authoritative voice in decision making; its strongest form may well be the ability to define social reality, to impose visions of the world. Such visions are inscribed in language and enacted in interaction (Gal 1991:197). In this part of the course, you will examine the ways in which language exerts or challenges the distribution of power in society and you will discuss topics as diverse as new capitalism and gender relations.
Developments in information technology have introduced groundbreaking changes to the way humanities in general and language study in particular are done. We have new methods, new tools, and new (often very 'Big') data, and therefore we can ask different questions and find out completely new things! This course will provide you with an overview of the field of Digital Humanities, particularly how it applies to language and linguistics, and introduce the wider contexts of research beyond academia. You will have the opportunity to build your own small website and present your research project in a digital fashion, which should give you new skills and ways of thinking about knowledge and how we generate and transmit it.
The course content in the final year is built on a foundation of lecturers’ research interests and you will have the opportunity to choose between 2 honours seminar programmes where you will work at the cutting edge of research with your lecturers. Topics change from year to year but have included Language and Gender, Language in the Media, Pragmatics and Religion in the Media.
One of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of your academic journey will be your final year Research Project or Dissertation. You will select an area of language study that has particularly interested you and develop it further through your own research. This can be a daunting exercise but you will take part in research planning sessions to support your growing research skills which run alongside discussions with your assigned research supervisor.
A one-year project completed under the supervision of a researcher in your topic area. You present a research paper drawn from your project at an internal academic conference.
As a Single Honours English Language student you will also study the following:
Language and Humour
In this course element, you will examine and discuss humour and language, particularly in relation to how it ‘works’ and the contexts in which it occurs. You will look at linguistic and other theories that attempt to account for why things are funny as well as looking at the linguistic mechanisms that create humour. Humour comes in all kinds of forms, slapstick, wit, mime, cartoons etc, but the focus will be on verbal humour. The course element culminates in a debate where you will divide into opposing teams to argue for and against the motion that humour should be censored in the public sphere.
The aim of this element is to provide you with a more advanced knowledge of the spread of English and how it has contributed to language variation and change. You will learn to apply the most significant theoretical frameworks to spoken and written language and to provide scientific explanations for development of new varieties and dialects.
This part of the course builds on your developing analytical skills to allow you to explore the complexities of word meaning and how it relates to our understanding of the world. For example, you will have the opportunity to study the relationship between the semantics of emotions and what our study of that language can tells us about the social perceptions of those emotions.
Language does not and cannot occur in isolation and is always part of a social and cultural context. Language users bring ideas from these cultural contexts to communication and where there is intercultural communication, we can start to understand the impact of these ideas. On this part of the course, you will study such issues as culture, communication and power; multiple histories and cultural identities and the impact of popular culture on intercultural communication.
A one-year project completed under the supervision of a researcher in your topic area. You present a research paper drawn from your project at an internal academic conference.
There may be some flexibility for mature students offering non-tariff qualifications and students meeting particular widening participation criteria.
A degree in English Language opens many doors and English Language graduates gain knowledge and skills that allow them to enter a wide range of careers. Many of our graduates go on to employment in fields such as publishing, education, journalism, media, broadcasting, marketing and public relations. The subject-specific knowledge gained also provides grounding for careers in language therapy, language teaching and forensic linguistics, with further training.
Throughout your degree, you will have the opportunity to explore career options and opportunities for further study. You will acquire many highly valuable critical skills throughout the course of your English Language degree; these include a sophisticated level of analytical thinking and advanced communication, writing and organisational skills, all of which significantly enhance your CV. To many employers, these skills are highly sought after and are often more important than the actual subject of your degree. An English Language degree also provides an excellent basis for postgraduate study.
The Service and Leadership Award (SALA) is offered as an extra-curricular programme involving service-based experiences, development of leadership potential and equipping you for a career in a rapidly changing world. It enhances your degree, it is something which is complimentary but different and which has a distinct ‘value-added’ component. Find out more on our Service and Leadership Award page.
As part of your degree, you can choose to spend either a semester or a full year of study at one of our partner universities as part of our Study Abroad programme. Find out more on our Study Abroad page.
The tuition fees for the 2024/25 academic year are £9,250 for full-time undergraduate courses.
If you are a student from the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, your tuition fees will also be £9,250.
The University reserves the right to increase Home and EU Undergraduate and PGCE tuition fees in line with any inflationary or other increase authorised by the Secretary of State for future years of study.
As well as your tuition fees, you also need to consider the cost of key books and textbooks, which in total will cost approximately £200.
You will also need to consider the cost of your accommodation each year whilst you study at university. Visit our accommodation pages for further details about our Halls of Residence.
We have a range of scholarships to help with the cost of your studies. Visit our scholarships page to find out more.
International tuition fees
The International Tuition fees for 2024/25 are £12,500.
Visit our International fees page for more information.
This course is also available with Foundation Year as a Combined Honours degree with the following subjects: