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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL3100 Digital Englishes

20 creditsClass Size: 20

School of English

Module manager: Dr Mel Evans

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Over the last forty years, digital communication has transformed our social interactions and experiences, with the English Language playing an intrinsic role in these developments. This module examines how we use (English) language online, exploring the ways that technology and society shape, and are shaped by, our choices in communication. Students will take a ‘long view’, comparing and contrasting early digital innovations (the 1990s world wide web, text messaging) with more recent platforms (Instagram, Twitter), using sociolinguistic frameworks to assess features including lexical innovation, orality markers, narratives, and multimodality (i.e. emojis, hashtags) and evaluating their significance for English language practices. The module will introduce techniques in data collection and analysis, and promote debate and discussion about the ethical considerations of researching language online. Students will develop their skills in digital communications, creating a podcast that reports their research into an area of digital communication, for part of the module assessment.


The module aims to promote an engaged, critical and informed appreciation of the impact of digital communication on the practices and expectations of the users of English. Taking a chronological structure, students will engage with scholarship from sociolinguistics, text linguistics, computational linguistics and further afield (i.e. ‘big data’ political science), and explore key debates and developments in thinking around language and online interactions from the 1980s to the present.
The key objectives are:
To introduce students to the main approaches to digital English and communication and their development over the last 40 years
To promote critical awareness of the connections between theoretical frameworks and students’ real-life (everyday) experiences of digital communication and social media
To explore the impacts (positive and negative) of digital communication on English language users, and the implications for non-users of English and those for whom English is a second or other language.
To introduce methods (quantitative and qualitative) relevant for the investigation of digital communication
To provide students with an understanding of the ethical complexities of researching English language use in digital spaces

Learning outcomes
1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of sociolinguistic approaches to ‘digital Englishes’ and online communication practices
2. Select and use appropriate methods for data collection and analysis for online data
3. Identify and analyse linguistic and social properties of online communication
4. Discuss and evaluate the impact of digital technology and social media on communication practices and the use of English
5. Evaluate and implement appropriate ethical considerations when researching language use online
6. Demonstrate knowledge of, and skills in, the communicative and digital techniques of podcasting.

Skills outcomes
The ability to analyse literary and non-literary texts using close-reading techniques and digital tools


The module takes a chronological and thematic view, looking at online platforms and their impact from the 1980s to the present, including the WWW, Usenet, YouTube, text messages and Twitter. It explores the role of the digital in linguistic innovations, orality, literacy, and identity construction, and considers how language relates to developments in big data research, and the Internet of Things. The module will analyse different types of data using quantitative and qualitative methods, making use of corpus linguistic tools and data visualization apps. The module engages with sociolinguistic research on online communication, including work by scholars such as Herring, Jones, Tagg, as well as drawing on social and cultural theorists, including Hayles, Ong and Goffman.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours175.00
Total Contact hours25.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study includes: wider reading and research (95hrs); preparing for seminars (40hrs); preparing assignments (40hrs)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will have preparatory tasks for each seminar and lecture, with formative feedback provided from staff and peers for each session.
Students will get group feedback on their progress at key milestones on the module
Students will receive formative feedback from their tutor and peers on their podcast concept and plan of execution.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Literature ReviewLiterature review and annotated bibliography relevant to chosen podcast topic (max 2 sides A4)25.00
Oral PresentationPodcast (10-15 mins; equivalent to 1500-2000 words)75.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

For resits, the student will undertake a written essay rather than creating a podcast.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 06/05/2022


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