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.
For further information, see the English Language Joint Honours programme specification and the Social Policy Joint Honours programme specification.
Dr Krzysztof Kredens - Director of Undergraduate Programmes in English Language
“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.”
Dr Karen West - Senior Lecturer in Public Policy
“For the last five or six years I’ve been involved in a number of research projects that deal with older people and the needs of an ageing population. For example, I’m working on three projects at the moment. The first is concerned with the kind of housing arrangements that older people want and need in later life; in particular housing arrangements that are integrated with care and support. The second is about how the organisations of the national health service and local authorities are trying to work better with each other to meet older people’s health and social care needs and how, sometimes, government policies that appear to support this aim can actually prevent it from happening! The third concerns the way in which older and younger people get jobs and stay employed in difficult financial and economic times and, importantly, how they understand and misunderstand each others’ motivations and needs. As I teach courses in social policy and public policy making, I find that these kinds of projects help me to understand better (and teach better) how welfare systems address the needs of older people; how scarce public resources are distributed between the generations; and how ideas in general, like the idea of an ageing population, come to frame and justify different policies and initiatives and with what consequences for society. I also find that I learn a lot about these issues from my students: their life experiences and general impressions.”