BSc English Language and Social Policy 

Why choose this course?

  • Social Policy at Aston has been ranked 6th in the country in the Times Good University Guide 2013
  • Social Policy at Aston is ranked joint 5th for Graduate prospects (70%) out of 58 universities in the Complete University Guide 2014
  • English Language at Aston is ranked 13th (out of 105 programmes in the UK) in the Guardian University Guide 2015

  • English Language staff work routinely with law enforcement as expert witnesses in cases where speech and/or text constitutes part of the evidence
  • In the 2013 National Student Survey BSc English Language scored 100% for overall satisfaction 

3 years full time or 4 years with integrated placement year

UCAS Code: LQ43

Typical Offers
: ABB from 3 A-levels. General Studies accepted. 

If your predicted grades are close to those stated in Aston's typical offers and if you are interested in Aston University and the courses we offer we encourage you to apply to us as one of your 5 UCAS choices. In addition to your predicted grades, when making offers we also consider your previous academic performance (eg AS grades, GCSEs), your school/college reference and the commitment and motivation you demonstrate for your chosen course via the personal statement. Applicants and their teachers/advisers are welcome to contact us with individual queries about entry qualifications via lss_ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk.

View our Admissions Policy. 

IB: 33 points in the IB diploma including TOK/Bonus points. Standard level Maths and English 5 required.
Access: Pass Access to HE Diploma with Merit in each module.  Humanities or Social Sciences Access course preferred, but other courses considered on an individual basis. 
BTEC: National Extended Diploma DDD.  Mix of Diploma/ Subsidiary Diploma/A-levels acceptable. 

We accept a wide range of UK, EU and International qualifications: please contact us for further advice.

Specific subject requirements:
GCSE English Language and Maths Grade C.

Tuition fees 2014/15: £9,000 (£1,000 during placement year) for UK/EU students. More on fees

Applicants receiving offers are invited to an open day.

Our BSc in English Language and Social Policy takes a practical approach to the teaching of English Language and Social Policy, through the optional placement year and professionally relevant modules which draw directly on our Astons’ cutting-edge research. You will gain a theoretical knowledge and understanding of the English language, how it works in society and its role in the world today. You will also investigate the economic, social and political forces which influence policy and give rise to conflicts between the achievement of economic, environmental and social objectives. Important strengths of the course include the research-active teaching staff who are internationally recognised researchers in fields such as political economy of economic development, multi-national enterprises and location, forensic linguistics, language and gender and TESOL studies. The professional placement year is an optional feature of the programme and is designed to give our students a distinct advantage on the graduate labour market. The programme is geared towards increasing your employability since it is designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills required of professionals working in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

For further information, see the English Language Joint Honours programme specification and the Social Policy Joint Honours programme specification.

Sample module options: The following module descriptions are indications only -  the University reserves the right to change the modules on offer, the module content and the assessment methods.

Click on the module titles to find out more.

Year 1

In this module, students look at how words are used in written and spoken texts to create meanings, and use dictionaries, corpus analysis and other practical techniques to understand the processes involved, and to analyse words in different ways.

Assessment method: 2.5-hour written exam (100%)

This module introduces you to the basics of one model of grammar: Systemic Functional Grammar, including key concepts and terms. It also involves practical workshop activities where you apply in practice what you have learnt in theory.

Assessment method: 3-hour written exam (80%), Attendance and participation (20%)

This module looks at language as it is employed for a variety of purposes in both private and public contexts. It also extends methods of communication to cover non-verbal means whereby messages are conveyed, as substitutes for and supplements to the use of words. Topic areas to be covered will include paralinguistics in interaction and in texts (links between image, gesture and word), language and technology, media language and the language of interpersonal communication.

Assessment method: A written assignment of 2500 words (50%), 2500-3000-word group project (50%)

The module provides a brief introduction to the historical development of English, as a basis for the investigation of the concepts of language varieties and boundaries. This leads to an exploration of the issues and controversies surrounding the present-day role of English as a world language. An emphasis on language description reinforces the terminology and concepts taught in the companion modules of Level 1, while the teaching also focuses on the socio-historical forces which have shaped the development of English, reflecting the perspective of the programme overall.

Assessment method: 4-5-minute individual presentation (20%), 2-hour closed-book written exam (80%)

This module introduces the concepts of register and genre: the ways in which spoken and written texts are shaped by their purpose, the relationship between reader and writer or speaker and hearer, and formal aspects of the communication (pictures, writing, speech, song etc).

Assessment method: 1,500-word essay (50%), 1,500-word essay (50%)

This module introduces language description at the levels of phonetics and phonology. It provides the descriptive and analytical tools needed to discuss phonological processes and aspects of speech production, involved in variation across accents of English.

Assessment method: 1,500-word essay (60%), Class test (40%)

This module introduces students to a variety of methodological approaches to social science research, and develops students’ research skills by giving them small tasks relating to these approaches. During the first tern, these tasks encourage students to evaluate their own interests, ideas about research and how you actually carry it out. During the second term, they move from qualitative to quantitative methods, learning the basics of SPSS (a popular software package designed specifically for social scientists) and using an actual live database (the National Child Development Study) to do a project. This ‘Mixed Methods’ project requires the students to combine the qualitative skills they learned and developed in the first half of the module, with the statistical ones they learned at the beginning of Teaching Period 2 in order to analyse the database.

Assessment method: Portfolio in Teaching Period 1 (50%); Mixed methods project in Teaching Period 2 (50 per cent).

This module seeks to provide you with a good understanding of the drivers for change in welfare and public services in recent years and in historical and comparative perspective.  You will gain knowledge of the theoretical and ideological basis of welfare and public services reform.  In the first term we focus on key theoretical concepts and explanations of welfare states and welfare state change.  In the second term we analyse processes of change in key public services.  The programme is delivered through lectures, student presentations and class discussion. 

Assessment method: two class tests during teaching period 1 (40%); a 2,500 word assignment in teaching period 2.
The module introduces students to public policy and the many forms it can take. It examines in detail the institutions of policy making.  Particular attention is paid to Westminster models of government compared with other models of government and policy – notably European and US models– and the ways in which the Westminster model has come to be challenged, both internally and externally.  Finally, the module examines various models of policy making and analysis, including those which see policy making as an exercise in more or less rational decision-making and those which place much greater emphasis on values, beliefs and meanings.

Assessment method: short essay (5%), exam (45%) in TP1. Essay (50%) in TP2.

The module covers the period from the Industrial Revolution to Blair’s election victory in 1997 and concentrates on the experiences of ordinary people as they respond to events unfolding around them.  It gives considerable emphasis to the relationship between contemporary society and the events which shaped it, in addition to considering the global impact of Britain’s history. 

Assessment method: 50% exam, 50% essay.
This module offers an introduction to the sociology of culture through the study of ‘popular culture’ (film, television, virtual media, popular music and art, advertising and informal education). The first part outlines sociological definitions of ‘culture’, illustrating how sociologists study culture and the methods we use to analyse cultural practices and products in a critical way. The second part interrogates different theoretical approaches to popular culture – culture as meaning-making in everyday life, culture as an instrument of domination and culture as a form of resistance – using case studies to explore the politics of culture in contemporary society.

Assessment method: Portfolio of coursework, due during exam period (100%)

Year 2

This module introduces you to different variations of English, including: social and regional variation; Englishes around the world and differences between spoken and written modes.

Assessment method: 3-hour exam 
The context for the module will be set by considering how language and work are inter-related on a macro scale. It will look at the impact of global trends on both work and language practices, as increasing numbers of business enterprises trade across national borders, necessitating international – and ‘intercultural’ – communication. The remainder of the module will take a more micro perspective, reviewing the ways in which speakers, writers and readers make use of particular kinds of discourse in work-related communication.

Assessment method: 2,500-word assignment (100%)
This module aims to introduce you to the ways in which media texts both reflect and construct our social practice and values. It addresses a range of issues, such as what makes something newsworthy, whether there is objectivity in news reporting, whether different social groups are equally represented in mass media texts, and what part visual images and layout play in our media messages; and it introduces you to a variety of methods for describing and critically evaluating media texts in relation to these issues.

Assessment method: 2,000-word case study (80%), Attendance and participation (20%)
This is an introductory course to TESOL. By the end of the module, the students will have become aware of the basic requirements of a teacher of English to speakers of other languages. They will have had the chance to develop some of the skills necessary for the TESOL teacher. The emphasis will be on developing the skills, organisational and pedagogical, which will allow them to teach or tutor their specialism. The areas covered will be course and syllabus design, materials evaluation and preparation, strategies for teaching lexis and grammar, lesson planning, delivery and evaluation.

Assessment method: Short lesson (10-15 minutes) on approved topic (50%), 1000 word summary and critique of a journal article (50%)

This module introduces students to the comparative method in public policy analysis; demonstrates its advantages and disadvantages; and enables students to undertake comparative analysis in practice, through examining case studies. It also deepens students’ knowledge of the influence of key international/transnational and domestic pressures on policy-making, and how these might differ in their impact between nations. Finally, it also provides students with an in-depth knowledge of a number of important policy case studies.  

Assessment method: 10% participation (assessed by module tutor), 90% written exam following end of module

This module provides students with a thorough grounding in the most influential approaches to explaining social policy development across nations. It examines traditional approaches to welfare state development and critiques of these approaches. The module also examines theories concerning welfare state retrenchment (those claiming there is a ‘new politics’ of welfare), and examines different core areas within social policy. Each area is chosen both for its overall importance within the mixed economy of welfare provision, and because it highlights differences in social policy-making and implementation between nations, and the challenges of social policy reform. 

Assessment method: 10% participation (assessed by module tutor), 90% written exam following end of module

This module introduces students to the contemporary issues and challenges facing governments in managing public expenditure, with particular reference to a number of policy arenas and experiences in European countries. This includes analysis of the political, historical and social factors influencing government expenditure decisions, international comparisons of government expenditure regimes, and public expenditure and welfare Services. Particular focus is also placed on the contemporary public deficit in many Western countries, including discussion of how such a situation has arisen and the various efforts to reduce deficits. 

Assessment method: The assessment is via a two-hour closed book examination. 
This 10 credit module seeks to introduce students to the key environmental challenges facing policy makers and their responses to these. We examine key theories such as risk society, ecological modernization and environmental economics and instruments of policy implementation, comparing regulatory, market and voluntary approaches.  We explore these in relation to specific areas of environmental policy, but with particular emphasis on climate change and climate change mitigation.  We examine policy making at the local, national and supranational level. The programme is delivered through lectures, student presentations and class discussion.  

Assessment method: a class test (20%) and a 2,500 word assignment.

Year 3 - Placement Year

Final Year

In this module, students learn the key concepts and terminology of corpus linguistics

and how to use corpus tools to conduct research into language in use, and look at some areas of applied linguistics in which corpora are used, such as lexicography, pedagogy, and translation.

Assessment method: Written assignment of 2000 words (50%), Practical project report (equivalent of 1000-1500 words) (50%)

This module considers frameworks, methods of analysis and applications associated with critical discourse analysis. It also considers the relationship between critical discourse analysis and other forms of discourse analysis, thereby developing a critical awareness of discourse analysis in general.

Assessment method: Portfolio of seminar-based tasks (700-800 words in total) (50%), 2,500-word critical discourse analysis (50%)
This module aims to introduce you to the ways in which the social construction of gender both reflects and inflects our discursive practices. It addresses a range of issues, beginning with an overview of feminist language study and alternative views of the relationship between gender, language and society. The second part of the module then moves on to consider questions of how gender issues are reflected in a range of social and institutional contexts, including for example, education, the media and the workplace. You will be introduced, throughout the module, to a variety of methods for describing and critically evaluating gendered linguistic practices in relation to these issues and contexts.

Assessment method: Attendance and participation (20%), 3,000-3,500 word research project (80%)
This module will focus on one specialist area of Applied Linguistics, the application of the tools and techniques of language description to spoken and written texts which have a significance in court cases. The module will look at topics such as: techniques for authorship attribution; questions of copyright and the detection of plagiarism; disputed police records of interview and confession; suspect suicide notes; and anonymous letters.

Assessment method: Mock expert report with literature review (2,000 words) (50%), Critique of expert report (1,500 words)
This course aims to enable students to research in significant depth a topic in English Language, and address, elaborate and apply key concepts used in the linguistic analysis of discourse, in professional, social, educational and/or cultural institutions and contexts. The dissertation allows students to undertake supervised research on a topic that is new to them. It is the longest and most sustained piece of research undertaken in the English Language part of their degree programme.
The module has three core functions. First, it introduces students to the concept of ‘governance’, and indicates how this differs from traditional conceptions of ‘government’. It examines how ‘governance’ can be deployed in a variety of different ways, by considering the various governing functions. The module then considers in detail new governing methods such as the use of agencies, markets and networks. Finally, the module examines how governments have attempted to control these various types of governance, through the use of performance management and self-regulation.

Assessment method: 10% participation (assessed by module tutor), 90% written exam following end of module
This module introduces students to different types of economic development policy, the environment in which such policies arise, and the interaction between different organisations in the development and delivery of policies. This includes topics such globalisation, city marketing and community economic development. Particular focus is placed on the examination of different types of economic development policy through the exploration of contemporary case studies in a range of countries. Through such an approach it is possible to examine the complexities of creating and delivering policies.

Assessment method: exam (100%). 
This module offers students the opportunity to undertake an independent project of social research. The topic and methodology are chosen through consultation with an academic supervisor, and may address any sociological problem using appropriate method(s). The module is an advanced exploration of designing, conducting and presenting social research; undertaking independent intellectual work; and extending critical and organisational abilities. There are six taught sessions during the first term which outline the research process and strategies for organising independent work. The remaining time is spent on independent study in cooperation with individual supervisors.

Assessment method: Viva of work in progress, during term (10%, TP1), written dissertation of 6,000-8,000 words, due during exam period (90%, TP2)

Through the systematic examination of a series of theoretical perspectives underpinned by relevant empirical examples, the module explores corporations as social actors, paying particular attention to their ability to shape the world according to their interests.  Case studies include Rupert Murdoch and News International, and the Oil Industry. 

Assessment method: exam.

Our graduates are in demand from a wide range of employers who value their understanding of different cultures and societies, their communication skills and motivation for team work. Recent destinations for our English Language and Social Policy graduates include:   

  • Program Policy Officer, Department of Health
  • Tax Associate, Grant Thornton
  • Trainee Manager Graduate Scheme, Travelodge
  • Economic Development Support Officer
  • Customer Logistics Executive, Beiersdorf
  • Supply Chain Analyst, Aero Engine Controls
  • Graduate Trainee Buyer, Tesco
  • Business Consultant, Hewlett- Packard
  • Financial Analyst, Jaguar Landrover
  • Management Trainee, Bexley Council
  • HR Consultant Jaguar Land Rover
  • Events Coordinator, BMW
  • Geographic Buying Analyst, Intel
  • HR Administrator, Warwickshire County Council
  • Graduate Trainees for: Scottish Power, Stagecoach
  • PGCE Primary, the University of Birmingham
  • Graduate Management, NHS
  • Trainee Chartered Accountants, PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Recruitment Manager, South West Trains
  • Policy and Planning Officer, London Borough of Bexley.
  • Bilingual Speech & Language Therapy Assistant, NHS 
  • Editorial Assistant, Blast TV 
  • Case Worker, Crown Prosecution Service 
  • Learning Support Assistant, Balfor Education 
  • Tenancy Support Worker, Midland Heart 
  • Trainee Teacher, Castle Vale School 
  • MA Broadcast Journalism, University College Falmouth 
  • PGCE Secondary English, the University of Birmingham 
  • MSc Human Resource Management, King’s College London
  • PhD Forensic Linguistics, Aston University 



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

Dr Kredens

“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 

Karen West

“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.”




The placement year is optional for students studying English Language and Social Policy. If you choose to take a placement year, this will take place during your third year at Aston and is worth 10% of the final degree result. Unlike some other universities, the placement year at Aston is not a ''bolt-on'' year it is an integral part of your degree for which you are prepared in your second year. 

A distinctive feature of our placement year is the flexibility that we offer. You will be able to choose between undertaking a paid work-experience placement with a company or working as a teaching assistant in a school (either in the UK or abroad) - you might even choose to combine two of these options.  

We are extremely proud of the high level of preparation, orientation and support that we provide before and during your year abroad. We have a full-time Placements Team who will give you plenty of individual help and advice, and even come and visit you during your time away.

Find out more about the placement year.

Contact Details

Tel: 0121 204 3777
Email: lss_ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk

Student Profile

Student Profile

Holly Morgan

BSc English Language

All the lecturers are willing to help and are always available at the end of an email. The relationship with my lecturers has definitely benefited my studies and is something that makes LSS unique, the small classes enable this relationship to be developed.


Download the course brochure

Download the course brochure



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