nl en

Language & Ideology


Admission requirements

Required course(s):


**Recommended course(s):*

Students who have previously taken Sociolinguistics will have a small advantage at the start of the course.


Language is not only a system for communication, but also a system for expression: individuals use language to express their identities and their places in society. This side of language is studied by sociolinguistics: the study of how language is embedded in society, and how it embeds us in that same society.

This course focuses on three aspects of sociolinguistics: multilingualism, cognition, and identity. How do multilingual individuals choose what language to speak when, and how does this reflect on their different societies? How does language shape the way we see the world, and what does this mean for inter-language communication (and for the number of words a language has available for concepts such as ‘snow’)? How do we use language to give shape to our identities, and what does that have to do with language change? On the basis of very recent textbook chapters and research articles, this course familiarizes students with the current state of the art in sociolinguistic research, and invites the student to apply sociolinguistic terms and concepts to a research topic of their own interest.

At the end of the course, students will write a final essay, in which they can give a uniquely personal direction to the themes covered by the course that aligns with their own research interests. This entails finding and critically evaluating new literature, and synthesizing this literature into a coherent research product, with a clear research question and discussion on a topic related to the course.

Course Objectives

General course objectives:
At the end of the course, students:

  • have attained knowledge and insight of current developments in sociolinguistics;

  • are able to identify and analyze a new research problem;

  • are able to create a new contribution to the academic debate.

Oral and written presentation skills:

  • To explain clear and substantiated research results.

  • To provide an answer to questions concerning a subject in the field covered by the course:

    • in the form of a clear and well-structured presentation;
    • in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
    • using up-to-date presentation techniques;
    • using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
    • aimed at a specific audience.
  • To actively participate in a discussion.

Collaboration skills:

  • To provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position.

  • To adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:

  • To collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques.

  • To analyse and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability.

  • To formulate on this basis a sound research question.

  • To design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved.

  • To formulate a substantiated conclusion.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction


Assessment Method

15% in-class participation
10% first homework assignment (Week 16)
10% second homework assignment (Week 18)
10% third homework assignment (Week 20)
15% presentation (Week 21-22)
40% essay (in the exam period)

Reading list

Meyerhoff, M. (2019). Introducing Sociolinguistics. 3rd Edition. Abingdon/New York: Routledge.

Articles that will be made available available on-line.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. C. C. Voeten,