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BSc English Language

Why choose this course?

  • English Language at Aston is ranked 16th (out of 102 programmes in the UK) in the Guardian University Guide 2014

  • In the 2013 National Student Survey BSc English Language scored 100% for overall satisfaction
  • 89.2% of Aston graduates go on to a graduate level job within six months – a higher proportion than Oxford and one of the best in the UK outside London
  • Staff work routinely with law enforcement as expert witnesses in cases where speech and/or text constitutes part of the evidence

3 years full time or 4 years with integrated placement year

UCAS Code: Q310

Typical Offers
A-levels:
ABB - BBB from 3 A-levels, including English Language/Literature/Combined Language and Literature A-level Grade B.  
IB: 32-33 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. Applicants must demonstrate that they have successfully completed English Language/Literature/Linguistics modules as part of their Access course (minimum grade Merit.) Applicants may be asked to attend an interview prior to an offer being made.
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 innovative English Language degree aims to provide you with a theoretical knowledge and understanding of the English language, how it works in society and its role in the world today. At the same time we emphasise the practical application of English Language studies to the real world through professionally relevant modules in areas such as Teaching and Learning English or Language in the Workplace or Language and the Law. Your First Year of studying English Language at Aston will give you a broad introduction to language and meaning, to the influence of form and context and to the role of language in society. In the Second Year you build upon the themes introduced in your First Year through the study of core and elective modules designed to equip you to describe the features of spoken and written language in technical detail, as well as collecting, managing and working with linguistic data. In the Final Year you can choose from a wide range of elective modules to suit your interests and/or career plans. You will also produce a substantial piece of individual work in the form of a dissertation on an agreed topic of your choice.

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.


Year one
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%)


Year two


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%)

Year four (following placement 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.

Assessment method: Dissertation proposal (20%), Dissertation (80%) 

 

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 English Language graduates include:   

  • 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 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 Urszula Clark - Reader in English Language

Urszula Clark

“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.”

The placement year is optional for students studying English Language. 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
Emaillss_ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk


Student Profile

Student Profile

Holly Morgan

BSc English Language

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.

 

Graduate Profile

Graduate Profile

Charles Donnell, Graduate 2013

BSc English Language and Psychology

A highlight of studying at Aston is the lecturers. They are so supportive and you have friendly relationships with them. Another great thing is the emphasis on doing a placement. As a result of my placement, I have been offered a graduate role with IBM on a Leadership Development Program me.

 

Download the course brochure

Fees and Funding

Fees and Funding

Accommodation

Accommodation

All our accommodation is based on campus and over 80% of our rooms are ensuite. We offer a guarenteed place scheme for first years.

Outstanding graduate career prospects

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