SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Research methods in linguistics 1

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

Please note that this module will first run in 2020/21.

This module provides an introduction to key issues and practice in research methodology within the field of Linguistics. Students will become acquainted with a range of empirical approaches to research questions and will relate these to the type of evidence and analysis required to produce the answers being sought. The module will provide an overview of methodological approaches from a range of subdisciplines while offering the opportunity to conduct two small-scale research projects using at least one specific research method and approach. The module aims to train students in developing research questions and to assess the applicability and relevance of different research methods, thus providing them with the foundation for developing individual projects. It will also be very useful for dissertation preparation. The module will also discuss issues of power and decolonisation in research, informed consent and ethical review.

The module covers topics such as qualitative vs. quantitative methods and data, research ethics and data management. The students will be introduced to a wide range of methodological approaches, for example research interviews, participant observation, questionnaires and document studies. They will also be introduced to practical issues involved in making recordings and videos for linguistic research.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Understand how to develop research questions and methodology in Linguistics and language-related study
  • Understand different types of language-related research and principles of data management
  • Epistemology, methodology and methods.
  • Design and carry out an empirical research project in Linguistics and language-related studies
  • Understand issues of power and decolonisation in research, informed consent and ethical review. 


This module will consist of weekly one-hour lectures and one-hour seminars.

Scope and syllabus

The module will cover topics such as:

  • Introduction to the nature of research in Linguistics; Types of language-related research  
  • Developing research questions; methodology in Linguistics and language-related study
  • Research ethics
  • Decolonising research
  • The observer’s/researcher’s paradox
  • Data management
  • Epistemology, methodology and methods
  • Using technology, making recordings and videos; Practical exercises
  • Quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods – what’s the difference? Concepts, Frameworks, Issues  
  • Introduction to sociolinguistic methods: Variationism
  • Researching language attitudes, multilingual language ecologies; code-switching and translanguaging
  • Language documentation and description
  • Linguistic elicitation

Method of assessment

Two 2,500-word reports on project one and two respectively (50% each).

Suggested reading

  • Bryman, Alan.  2015. Social Research Methods (5e). Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Litosseliti, Lia. 2018 (2e). Research Methods in Linguistics. Basingstoke: Continuum
  • Paltridge, Brian and  Aek Phakiti. 2015. Research Methods in Applied Linguistics. London: Bloomsbury
  • Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 2012. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, 2nd edition. London: Zed Books


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules