nl en



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 significantly to theories on language change. The first major sociolinguistic investigation was by William Labov in the 1960s. He looked at the use of English in New York department stores and found that people adjusted their speech to listeners, for various reasons. Most importantly, he proved that pronunciation variation that seemed random was in fact quite systematic, and predictable on the basis of speaker characteristics and social circumstances. Many other investigations into English and other languages have since been performed, all of which have taken their own approach: evaluation, perception, description, and various others. Sex, social class, and age have been the most important variables studied, but less straightforward variables have also been investigated, such as social and geographical mobility.

In this MA course, students will be discovering sociolinguistics by reading not only an introduction into sociolinguistics but journal articles on sociolinguistic experimental research as well. They will get hands-on 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.

Course objectives

  • To learn to read and interpret sociolinguistic literature;

  • To understand the most relevant sociolinguistic theories;

  • To learn to collect and process sociolinguistic data;

  • To write critically on your own and other people’s sociolinguistic research.


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website

Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • Attending seminars: 26 hours

  • Weekly homework: 26 hours

  • Reading: 115 hours

  • Preparation for research project and exam: 113 hours

Assessment Method

  • Homework 30%

  • Course Paper 30%

  • Exam 40%

The final grade consists of weighted average of the above components

Resit: students who fail the course may resit the exam and/or course paper.

Exam Review

Students are entitled to view their marked examination within a period of 30 days, following publication of the results of a written examination.


This course will be supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

  • Meyerhoff, Miriam (2011) Introducing Sociolinguistics (2nd edition). Routledge.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English.

Students other than MA Linguistics need permission from the coordinator of studies before enrolling.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof