Language, Discourse and Society | Abertay University

Language, Discourse and Society


This module provides students with an understanding of the social study of language and meaning through conversation analysis, discourse analysis and Wittgensteinian logico-grammatical analysis. Philosophical issues, contemporary studies, debates and critiques are considered.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with: an understanding of the principles, practices, applications and critiques of conversation and discourse analysis.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Critically evaluate the conversation analytic approach and be able to conduct a piece of analysis.

2.  Critically evaluate the discourse analytic approach and be able to conduct a piece of analysis.

3.  Critically evaluate the the Wittgensteininan logico-grammatical approach to language use.

Indicative Content

1 Conversation Analysis

This aspect of the module considers the roots of conversation analysis in ethnomethodology and the study of social order at the local level. The nature of the conversation analytic approach is examined alongside in terms of classic and contemporary studies.

2 Discourse Analysis

This aspect of the module considers the different approaches to discourse analysis: from conversation analytic inspired approaches to post-structuralist and critical approaches. The nature of these are explored through classic and contemporary studies.

3 Wittgenstein and Ordinary Language Philosophy

This aspect of the module considers the resurgence of interest in Wittgenstein's approach to language use and its (mis)interpretations. The focus here is on the his reference to language games.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

This module is taught through a series of lectures (2 hour slot per week) and tutorials (1 hour slot per week). Lectures provide a grounding in the conceptual principles of CA and DA while the practical/tutorial segments involve exercises that focus upon methodological issues. The assessment involves coverage of both aspects via a project that involves a critical exposition of the conceptual basis of CA, DA and Wittgensteinian logico-grammatical analysis. The module contributes to the development of graduate attributes in the following ways: (i) through the application of CA and DA to in-class exercise examples thereby encouraging the creative application of these approaches (ii) the encouragement of group work and collaborative working on the latter, (iii) the ability to reflexively engage in CA & DA via a portfolio, and (iv) the development of a critical evaluation of the analytic potential and limitations of CA and DA. Students are encouraged to engage with technologies that support their learning (e.g., on-line CA tutorials and other exercises and readings via Blackboard, as well as e-library resources). There is a designated reading week within the class schedule.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 36
Tutorial/Seminar 0
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 40
Independent 124

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2018/19 , and may be subject to change for future years.