You will be involved in: lectures, tutorials, seminars, e-seminars, small-group work, project work and independent study. Many of your modules will be in workshop format, alternating theoretical input with practical analysis, and allowing you to test out your understanding in discussion with other students and your tutor. There are also opportunities for group and collaborative work. Students undertake a major piece of independent research in final year.
You will be allocated a Personal Tutor when you join us and you will be encouraged to make regular contact with them throughout your studies. Personal Tutors are there to help discuss academic and, in some cases, personal issues. Personal Tutors can also often offer support by writing references for placement/graduate employment and academic research.
Assessment is through a combination of written and oral exams, coursework, essays, translation tasks, presentations and an extended dissertation during your Final Year. Exams take place in January and May/June.
“In my five years at Aston possibly the most flattering praise I received came from a student who said ‘This module messes with my head’. ‘Messing with students’ heads’ is not necessarily what the official course description promises but in my teaching I try and challenge students’ perceptions of what language is and what it can – and cannot – do for them. The key message I try to get across is that understanding the linguistic phenomena we encounter, but rarely notice, on an every-day basis is crucial for understanding and shaping the world around us. We all acquire knowledge in essentially two ways – either through direct experience or from others. For most of our knowledge we have to rely on other people’s perceptions, which, before reaching us, are encoded into language. Language then carries knowledge; once we realise the importance of this simple notion, we can make fully informed and conscious choices as to how we can use language as a powerful tool to achieve certain aims. At Aston our focus is on language use rather than structure. We do make sure our students acquire the relevant theoretical concepts, but our ultimate aim is to show how language works in actual interactions. We focus on the practical applications of English Language studies. We are passionate about teaching and, importantly, use our own research to inform it. As a result our students often have access to the latest research findings even before they are published in academic journals or the media.”
“At Aston University, I teach a module on Variations in English. This module considers the different ways in which we express ourselves through English and its multifaceted varieties, particularly through regional variation. I am Director of Aston’s West Midlands English: Speech and Society project. The work of this project is included in the syllabus for this module. Students who take it work with the data my research team have collected and actively take part as researchers for this research project. I also teach a module on Critical Discourse Analysis. This module is based upon the premise that language is never neutral, and that any text, spoken and written, will be biased to tell a particular story, however ‘neutral’ it may pretend to be. All staff in our Group at Aston are active in research. We also collaborate with researchers in other Groups in the School. At the moment, I am involved in a research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) which is allowing us to integrate the data such as that covered by my West Midlands English project into the ways research methods are taught in undergraduate programmes of study such as that of English language.”