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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

COMM3420 The Ethnography of Speaking

20 creditsClass Size: 20

Module manager: Professor Stephen Coleman

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

None (but students who have taken Communication Skills at level 2 will have an advantage)

Module replaces

COMM3165 Politics Performance & Rhetoric

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module explores the most common form of human communication: speaking. It is taught at both theoretical and practical levels and students taking it must be prepared to participate in testing practical workshops. Students taking this module will acquire a confident approach to verbal self-expression; an ability to use ethnographic research methods; an ability to contribute to teaching others how to speak more confidently; and sophisticated non-verbal skills.


On completion of this module, students should be able to ...
To enable students to develop an understanding of how speaking is produced and interpreted
To enable students to understand and employ ethnographic approaches to spoken communication
To enable students to understand, critically interrogate and work with concepts such as ‘communicative competence’, ‘communicative performance’, ‘code-switching’, ‘style-switching’ and ‘rhetoric’
To enable students to focus in-depth upon strategies of verbal and non-verbal communication

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of key aspects of communication ethnography
2. Demonstrate a confident approach to verbal self-expression
3. Use ethnographic research methods
4. Possess sophisticated non-verbal skills


The first three classes will focus on key conceptual questions:
i) The production and interpretation of speaking
ii) Ethnographic investigation
iii) Rhetoric
iv) Speaking without words
These opening classes will be followed by four practical workshops in which students will explore
v) Speaking as an embodied act
vi) Strategies of persuasion
vii) Verbatim techniques
viii) Ensemble speech
The final three classes will be devoted to assessment

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students should devote private study time to reading and preparation for lectures (50 hours), essay preparation (70 hours) and preparation for two presentations (58 hours)’.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 3,000-3,500 words40.00
PresentationIndividual speech - week 10 and 11 (5 minutes)40.00
Reflective log.20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Resit arrangements: Assignment one (essay): students will be given a new essay topic of equivalent word length. Assignment two (speech): students will be assigned an alternative time to present their speech to the module examiner and second marker. In the rare event that this is not possible students will have the option to present via skype or other similar method. Students will be given a new topic for their presentation and it will be of the same duration.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 13:36:39


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