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Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buildings from Leiden to The Hague may take about 45 minutes.


This course explores how language is used in social interaction at the individual, societal, and institutional levels. We examine how the way we speak affects the way others think of us and why, and how language can bring about both social equality and inequality through its use in various settings. We also examine how communication works when speakers of different languages come into contact and the effects of immigration and globalization on how languages change. Other topics include what is polite or impolite in different cultures and how this is reflected in language; how gender issues are reflected in and debated through language; and the role of language in education and in nation-building.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • explain key concepts used in the field of sociolinguistics;

  • describe the complexity of linguistic diversity and everyday language use from a sociolinguistic and cultural perspective;

  • identify factors that can enhance or impede intercultural communication;

  • evaluate language ideologies that motivate language planning and language policies;

  • recognize the importance of rhetoric in communication and society.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.


Tutorials are held once every two weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. With online education, it is more important than ever to maintain communication and stay in touch with your study groups. For this reason, if you are unable to attend a session, it is required that you inform your tutor in advance. Please note that being absent at any tutorial session may have a negative impact on the grade of the assignment due for that particular tutorial session. This is at the discretion of the tutor.

Assessment method


  • Final Exam:

    Online take home written examination with 4 essay questions.


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorials 60%
Final Exam 40%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of Tutorial grade and Final Exam grade.

  • The Final Exam grade needs to be 5.5 or higher.

  • This means that failing Exam grades cannot be compensated with a high Tutorial grade.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the Final Exam grade is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 40% of the exam material, replacing the Final Exam grade. No resit for the tutorial is possible.
Please note that if the Resit Exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2020 – 2021.

Exam review and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.

Reading list

Wardhaugh, Ronald and Janet M. Fuller. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. 7th ed. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2015. This book is available as an e-book. Students will have free access to this book through the Leiden University library website.


  • Enrolment through uSis for Tutorials and Lectures is mandatory.

  • Students will be enrolled for Exams by the Administration Office, as long as they have a valid Tutorial enrolment.

  • General information about uSis is available on the website.

The programme’s administration office will register all first year students for the first semester courses in uSis, the registration system of Leiden University.


Prof.dr. M. Terkourafi

When contacting lecturers or tutors, please include your full name, student number, and tutorial group number.
Please use your University email-address (uMail) when communicating with any person or department within Leiden University.

Student Affairs Office for BA International Studies