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Language & Ideology




Admissions requirements

None. Sociolinguistics is recommended.


Although language is often defined as a human system of symbols that have understood meanings, its functions extend far beyond this meaning-making potential. Language acts as a filter of all human reality and it reveals the way we interpret the world and what we, in a given community, regard as “normal”. In other words, language is the most visible manifestation of ideology. In this course we will explore systematic frameworks in critical linguistics, sociolinguistics, pragmatics and the social psychology of language to uncover asymmetrical relations of power in the use of language that are normally hidden.

The course begins by revealing the ideologies behind language. In other words, we will look at the functions of language as a vehicle in creating and maintaining existing social dominance in sexist, racist and ageist discourses that favor certain groups over others. In the second part of the course, we will examine the ability to maintain ideologies through language in institutional discourse, political campaigns, emergence of leaders, terrorist narratives and oppositional subcultures. Finally, the class will include discussions where students will be asked to present and debate (by taking multiple perspectives) on relevant concepts. Throughout, the central goal is to equip students with the tools necessary for studying concrete examples of discourse and thinking expansively about the linguistic approaches that illuminate personal and social biases In our perception and understanding of the world.

Course objectives

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

  • Apply knowledge of linguistic theory and methods to investigate critically the relationships between ideology and language;

  • Analyze the social implications related to different manifestations of language ideologies;

  • Carry out linguistic analysis of discourse using the theoretical frameworks introduced in the course.

In terms of skills, upon completing the course students will be able to:

  • Analyze and assess academic literature with regard to quality and reliability;

  • Explain clear and substantiated research results in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation using up-to-date presentation techniques;

  • Formulate, in the form of a clear and well-structured written assignment, a well-defined research problem based on specialised literature and conduct, under supervision, a linguistic investigation of a limited size and formulate a reasoned conclusion.


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course will be taught through interactive lectures, student-led discussions and debates, and presentations by students. Students will complete most of the coursework individually. Attendance of class meetings is compulsory.


  • Actively engaging in classroom discussions (15%), ongoing

  • Individual article explanation and group-led discussion (15%), weeks 2 – 7

  • Two reflection essays (1000 words each) on the readings (2*15%), weeks 3 and 5

  • Final essay (40%), week 8


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Students do not have to purchase any books for this course. All class readings will be accessible via the Leiden University Library website or online. Other material will be distributed in class or made available on Blackboard.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Morana Lukač,