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BSc Sociology and English Language  

Why choose this course?

  • English Language at Aston is ranked 13th (out of 105 programmes in the UK) in the Guardian University Guide 2015

  • English Language achieved 100% Overall Satisfaction in the 2014 National Student Survey.
  • In the 2013 National Student Survey BSc English Language scored 100% for overall satisfaction 
  • Sociology at Aston is currently ranked Top 15 in the UK for Employability in the 2015 Complete University Guide
  • 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: LQ33

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

This multi-disciplinary programme takes an applied approach to the teaching of Sociology and English Language, through the optional placement year and professionally relevant modules which draw directly on our cutting-edge research. You will be provided with a theoretical knowledge and understanding of the English language, how it works in society and its role in the world today. You will also examine social processes, organisational dynamics and inter-group relationships. Important strengths of the course include the research-active teaching staff who are internationally recognised researchers in fields such as ethnic and gender equalities, global change, theories of social change, forensic linguistics, language and gender and TESOL studies. The placement year is an optional feature of the programme and is designed to give you real life experience and to act as a springboard for your future career. Our graduates are in demand from a wide range of employers where a sound understanding of societies, organisations, institutions and communication skills are required.

Sample module options: The following module descriptions are indications only - the modules on offer and the content of the modules is subject to change.

Year 1

This module will introduce the major sociological traditions, focusing on the works of Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel. Special focus will be given to the role of structure and agency, of economic and cultural factors, and of methodology.

Assessment method: 2 hour closed book examination (100%) at the end of TP1.

This module follows on from Classical Social Theory I and reviews some well-known and some not so well-known social theorists from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The course examines the preoccupations of sociologists working in different times and contexts and considers the relationship between social theory and wider popular debates. Students will be expected to read original writing by key theorists and to link discussion of this material to a consideration of key themes in the course.

Assessment method: essay.

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. In the first term, these tasks encourage students to evaluate their own interests, ideas about research and how you actually carry it out. In 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 the second term 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 course 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: Portfolio of coursework, due during exam period (100%)

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 seeks to introduce students to sociological thinking around two key and overlapping areas; ‘social identities’ and ‘social inequalities’. During Teaching Period 1, the emphasis will lie on learning how to develop critical analytical skills and introducing concepts of social class, ‘race’ nation. During Teaching Period 2, the module will focus more on gender and sexuality. The aim with all of these sets of identities is to establish the ways in which they are constructed, and the maps of social inequalities on which they can be located.

Assessment method: Class test In Teaching Period 1 (10%); Assessed essay in Teaching Period 2 (40%); 2-hour exam in summer exam period (50 per cent each).

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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 2

This module offers an introduction to key concepts and debates in contemporary social theory, helping students to build a theoretical ‘toolbox’ and an understanding of how theory can be both applied and created. The first half of the course paints a broad picture of the relationship between intellectual and social change during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The second half focuses thematically on ‘big questions’, including problems of global capitalism; post-modern notions of identity, emotion and ‘the body’; and the relationships between culture, economy and social change.

Assessment method: essay (50%), exam (50%).

This module equips student with the skills they need to carry out qualitative research.  Those skills are also necessary to interpret effectively research done by other scholars.  Teaching combines theory and practical workshops, culminating in a group research project. 

Assessment method: An exam in January counts for 50%, the group project accounting for the remaining 50%

This module seeks to enable students to acquire a competent understanding of the ways in which different social inequalities intersect with ‘race’, and the complexity of social inequalities. In doing so, they will be able to conceptualise the social (i.e. dynamic) rather than natural character of ‘race’ using specialist literature, and demonstrate a critical understanding of the key debates around racism. The concepts explored in this module include; ‘race’, racism(s), racialisation, and ‘intersectionality’. The substantive areas through which these are then developed are migration into the UK from 1948 to the present; the impact of the European Union on British migration policy; the politics of immigration in Britain; and responses to Asylum-seeking in the Contemporary UK.

Assessment method: Assessed essay (2,000 words); 2-hour exam at the end of relevant Teaching Period (50 per cent each).

This module explores competing feminist theories through focusing on topics within the sociology of the body. It uses empirical studies to explain and explore theoretical issues and assist the understanding of a number of key feminist theorists. The empirical studies will also introduce sociological understanding on a range of social and political issues including the aging society and the growth of cosmetic surgery. It will also explore the social construction of bodily issues such as love and sexuality.

Assessment method: essay (30%), exam (70%).

This module introduces debates about the city, urban sociology and how we live together. We take Birmingham and the West Midlands as a focus of discussion, in order to explore wider debates about changes in the urban landscape, representations of urban life, the place of cities in society and the impact of globalisation. Module aims include: to understand key debates in urban sociology and to be able to apply these debates to local and regional contexts; to consider key themes in the development of sociology through an examination of local and regional examples; to apply key concepts from the field to local and regional examples, including through the formulation of research questions and projects; to become familiar with influential examples of social research that have been based in the locality and region.

Assessment method: coursework in the form of 100% essay.

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 3 - Placement year

Final Year

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)

In this module students will develop an understanding of the specialist literature relating to the topics taught, and the skills required to critically engage with the three key terms in the module’s title both in relation to a variety of subject areas, and as intersecting lines of identity.

The field of study is drawn from the scholarship on racism, and we note the many overlaps and connections between the three systems of inequality; ‘race’, class and gender. There is a deliberate attempt to mix historical and contemporary subject matter, as well as to use international points of comparison. The range of substantive areas addressed includes; ‘race’ and science; slavery and its legacy; eugenics & Social Darwinism; segregation; white identities; mixed-ness, and anti-Nomadism.

Assessment method: Assessed essay (3000 words).

This module examines the social and cultural relations of human reproduction. It outlines the ways in which ideals about femininity, masculinity, gender relationships and ‘normal’ families are present in debates about who should and should not have children. It introduces a range of feminist theories on human reproduction and draws on empirical studies to explain and explore theoretical issues. It shows the interrelationship between social structures and controls over human reproduction, and how studying the way that society understands human reproduction helps to understand these wider social structures.

Assessment method: essay (100%).

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.

This module looks at changes in society brought about by campaigning groups and protest.  It combines theory and case studies in order to examine the relationship between social movements and social change.  Case studies range from the US civil rights movement to the current “Occupy” protests. 

Assessment method: exam
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 our English Language and Sociology graduates include:   

  • Project Officer, Worcester City Council
  • Classified Sales Executive, Conde Naste Publisher
  • Support Worker, Future Homecare
  • Graduate Management Trainee, Lloyds Bank
  • Graduate Buyer, Carillion
  • Theatrical Marketing, Warner Brothers
  • Case Worker, Crown Prosecution Service
  • Management Trainee for the NHS
  • Graduate Trainees for: Warwickshire County Council, Nestlé, Deloitte and Touche
  • PhD Research – Sociology and Social Sciences
  • Procurement, BP
  • 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 Sociology Joint Honours programme specification and the English Language Joint Honours programme specification.

Dr Chrissie Rogers - Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Chrissie Rogers
''Sociology enables us to understand the personal and private lives of individuals and engage with the messy nature of everyday life. All of this can then be viewed in the context of the public sphere. For example, one of my areas of research is around the impacts of inclusion and exclusion for children and young people and in the UK ‘Every Child Matters’ promotes a meaningful sense of well-being for all children and ‘Education for All’ positions a global inclusive education strategy. These are just two of the policy contexts that address education as a means to promote inclusion and meaningful learning. But do they? Large numbers of pupils are not included, have poor educational experiences and are either marginalised or demonised. Education is failing children and young people. Not least of
all because they are disengaged, alienated and excluded from a meaningful learning process. League tabling and competitive schooling is stifling. We need to address these divisions as sociologists. This focus is just one area that within teaching sociology we can really get to the heart of understanding difference and diversity. More broadly, as a sociologist I have written Parenting and Inclusive Education, Critical Approaches to Care (with Susie Weller) as well as working on Intellectual Disability and Social Theory.”


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.”

The placement year is optional for students studying English Language and Sociology. 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

Graduate Profile

Graduate Profile

Hayley Chisholm, Graduate 2012

BSc English Language and Sociology

During my Placement Year, I went to Japan to work as a Teaching Assistant in a university located near Tokyo. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to gain paid work experience in Japan whilst studying. I was able to learn Japanese to a conversational level which has allowed me to form friendships and improve my confidence.

 

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