SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Discourse and Pragmatics: Language in Use (PG)

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 1

This module introduces the key concepts and theories in discourse analysis and linguistic pragmatics and training students to use related notions and mechanisms to analyse selected types of texts and oral exchanges.

It provides a unified working model for students to apply theoretical mechanism to the analysis of corpus data and multimodal discourse. The aim is not only to engage students with abstruse theoretical notions and related controversies but also to encourage them to actively apply key notions to the analysis of a variety of language data which they will be asked to examine and analyse with the guidance of the module tutor.

Issues concerning research methodology and ethics in data-collection are also introduced. Students work independently on data collection, and then have active participation in small group discussion on data analysis. Where applicable, students are encouraged to explore new computational and media techniques to help with their investigations.

In addition to micro-linguistic studies on discourse structure and meaning construction, macro issues will also be addressed such as literature and language, language in society, ideology through language, language and power, rhetoric and persuasion, and communication across cultures.

This module adds an important dimension of linguistic analysis and language use to BA Linguistics and double degree programmes.

The module is also available as an open option

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Gain an understanding and appreciation of the theoretical issues
  • Learn the skills in doing competent discourse analysis by bringing out the key discourse features and elucidating the pragmatically inferred contextual meaning
  • Relate linguistic features to meta-discourse aspects of langauge use such as stance, attitude, ideology and language manipulation
  • See the relationship between language use and life experience and world view


A total of 10 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week, consisting of one lecture and one seminar

Scope and syllabus

  • Traits of verbal communication and multimodal discourse
  • Context and context-sensitive language phenomena
  • Pragmatic principles: Cooperation or relevance
  • Discourse Structures and discourse particles
  • Ethical Issues in data collection and using computer tools for discourse analysis
  • Small talk, etiquette, and humour
  • Face and politeness
  • Figures and poetic effects, and the language of literature
  • Stance, power and ideology through discourse
  • Conversation analysis and what it tells us about social behaviour

Method of assessment

  • Analysing a piece of discourse together with an introduction of major theoretical concepts and mechanism used in the analysis, (1500 words), to be submitted on 11th November 2019 (30%)
  • Analysing a piece of discourse together with an introduction of major theoretical concepts and mechanism used in the analysis, (1500 words), to be submitted on 15th December 2019 (30%)
  • Exploring research findings on one central notion, theory or process (1500 words) to be submitted on 6th January 2020 (40%)

Suggested reading

Core Reading

  • Cameron, Deborah.  (2001) Working with Spoken Discourse. Sage Publications.
  • Cameron, Deborah.  and Ivan Panović (2014). Working with Written Discourse. Sage Publications.
  • Culpeper, Jonathan. and  Michael Haugh (2014) Pragmatics and the English Language.  Palgrave Macmillan

Additional Reading

  • Archer, Dawn. and Peter Grundy (2011) eds. The Pragmatic Reader. Routledge.
  • Black, Elizabeth. (2005) Pragmatic Stylistics. Edinburgh University Press.
  • Fox, Kate. (2014) Watching the English. Hodder & Stoughton.
  • Gavins, Joanna. (2013) Reading the Absurd. Edinburgh University Press.
  • Grundy, Peter. (2008) Doing Pragmatics. Hodder & Stoughton. 3rd edition.
  • Jaworski, Adam. and Nikolas Coupland (2014) eds. The Discourse Reader. Routledge.
  • Semino, Elena. (1997) Language and World Creation in Poems and Other Texts. Routledge.
  • Short, Mike. (1996) Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose. Addison Wesley.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules