nl en

Themes in Sociolinguistics: Speakers' choices across the globe


Admission requirements

A relevant BA degree and basic knowledge of linguistic terminology.


The study of language variation has revealed how people use, evaluate and perceive language and speech, and it has contributed to theories on language change. Research so far has demonstrated that variation that seems random is in fact quite systematic, and predictable on the basis of speaker characteristics and on social and situational circumstances. In this MA course, students will be discovering the field of Sociolinguistics by reading a light introduction into the field and attending tutorials that bring the research and theories mentioned in the coursebook to life. Critical discussion and the exchange of ideas about topical themes in the field are the main aims of the tutorials. Students will get hands-on research experience in doing sociolinguistic research by collecting empirical data and analysing them. They will thus receive a broad theoretical and practical introduction into this field which relies heavily on real-life language data and perhaps a little less on social or linguistic theories.

Course objectives

During the weekly seminars, specific topical themes will be presented and students are urged to engage in critical discussion with the teacher and each other and develop new insights and perspectives. Students need to read and analyse a research article as published in an international journal every week. Some of these will be discussed in detail in class. In homework assignments and in class, students need to critically comment on the methodologies and analyses in these articles or prepare for their own empirical investigation. In groups of 3 or 4, students collect data and present these data to the other students in a presentation. Instructions on how to present are given in the first lecture. In their presentation, they present their data in a critical way and interpret them by using the theories as mentioned in the book and the seminars. Throughout the course, students will be tested on their knowledge of specific chapters in the coursebook. At the end of the course, students need to write a critical paper on a topic of their choice but within the larger theme of ‘inequality’. In this paper, they need to reflect independently and convincingly on everything they have learned in the course.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Weekly 90-minute tutorials

Assessment Method

Weekly Homework 20%
Presentation 20%
In-class Mini-Exams 30%
Course Paper 30%

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average. To pass the course, the weighted average of the partial grades must be 5.5 or higher.


If your weighted average for the course is lower than 5.5, then you can rewrite your Course Paper (new topic), rewrite your Weekly Homework assignments (same articles/questions), and do a 2-hour exam during the exam period, which replaces the weighted average of the In-class Mini-Exams (same chapters to be studied). You can resit one component whose grade was below 5.5, unless you have already done a resit for a grade below 5.5 for another course.

Inspection and feedback

Students can contact the teacher two weeks after the final session to set a date for an inspection and feedback session

Reading list

Van Herk, Gerard (2018) What is Sociolinguistics? Second edition. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell Publishers


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory


For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar

For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.

For questions regarding enrollment please contact the Education Administration Office E-mail address Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats:

For questions regarding your studyprogress contact the Coordinator of Studies