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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - Common Courses

Undergraduate Course: Dynamics of Language and Power (ELCC08008)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores how unequal power relationships are manifested in specific sociolinguistic situations, and how this relates to individual and group identity in a variety of geographical contexts. Bringing together a range of approaches, the course will examine different aspects of language ideologies and practices, as well as real vs. declared language policy.

If the quota for this course is full, you will need to follow up with the Course Secretary to see if and when space is available. The course does not keep a waitlist. If you have not received an offer of a place by Friday of Week 1, you should assume that you will not be able to take the course.
Course description Through a diverse range of specific case studies, this course aims to introduce students to the study of language policy, incorporating language management, language practices and language beliefs. Crucially, this field sheds light on the balance of power between different languages and their users.

In addition to framing key concepts in the field, four specific sociolinguistic case studies will typically be considered: these will vary from year to year, but may include languages such as Gaelic, Greenlandic, Russian, the Sámi languages, Scots, and Spanish (no prior knowledge of any of these is required). Thematic topics and approaches to be covered will also vary, but may include globalisation, minoritisation, indigeneity, legal frameworks, education, commodification, media, language visibility, superdiversity, pluricentrism, and language contact.

After the introductory week, which will focus on key concepts, the course will be structured into four main modules. The teaching activities for each module will be delivered through a mix of synchronous and asynchronous methods. You will listen to brief lecture-style presentations by the relevant tutor, where appropriate. Each of the four modules will include a weekly synchronous session for group discussion with tutors. You will be asked to read academic texts and to consider examples of real-world discourse in relation to the cases being considered. In so doing you will develop your ability to read critically and in context, while also learning about a diverse selection of language situations.

The focus of the course is on student-led learning, so the class will be organised into small autonomous learning groups (ALGs) in which you will carry out interactive learning activities each week through Learn or other online platforms. As a formative exercise, you will complete individual reflective logs for each of the four modules in the course. Your learning and understanding will be further assessed through a presentation (produced in your ALGs and submitted electronically) and an end-of-course essay. One week will be set aside specifically for preparation of the group presentation, and groups will be able to schedule feed-forward sessions with the relevant tutor.

Please note the quota for this course will be raised to 45 once places have been allocated to Year 2 DELC students.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 183 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework 100%

Four individual reflective logs (150 words each) posted on Learn (formative)

30% Recorded presentation (produced in groups)

70% Comparative essay (1,400 words)
Feedback General feedback will be given on the interactive learning activities, and students will receive brief written or oral feedback on their logs. Students are also invited to schedule a feed-forward session in preparation of their group presentations. Students will receive feedback on their group presentations in the final class (if possible) and written feedback shortly afterwards. Feedback will be given on the final comparative essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Construct clear and coherent arguments about power relationships through analysis of a geographically diverse range of language situations
  2. Illustrate these arguments using close analysis of different sociolinguistic realities
  3. Contextualise and critique various language management initiatives, language practices and language beliefs, using a variety of sources and approaches
  4. Present their research in different formats
  5. Demonstrate relevant knowledge of the scope, defining features and main areas of the subject
Reading List
Essential texts may change each year depending on tutor availability, and may include extracts from the works listed below.

- Clyne, Michael (ed.) (2012). Pluricentric Languages: Differing Norms in Different Nations (Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton)
- Council of Europe (1992). European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (Strasbourg: Council of Europe). Available at this website: (For additional information on the Charter, see this website:
- Council of Europe (1995). Framework Convention on National Minorities (Strasbourg: Council of Europe). Available at this website: (For additional information on the Framework Convention, see this website:
- Dunbar, Robert (2008). 'The Council of Europe European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages', in Synergies in Minority Protection: European and International Law Perspectives, ed. by Kristin Henrard and Robert Dunbar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 155-186.
- Extra, Guus and Durk Gorter (2001). The Other Languages of Europe (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters).
- Gorter, Durk, Heiko F. Marten and Luk Van Mensel (eds) (2012). Minority Languages in the Linguistic Landscape (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).
- Hogan-Brun, Gabrielle, and Stefan Wolff (eds) (2003). Minority Languages in Europe: Frameworks, Status, Prospects (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).
- May, Stephen (2013). Language and Minority Rights: Ethnicity, Nationalism and the Politics of Language, 2nd edn (Abingdon: Routledge).
- Millar, Robert McColl (2005). Language, Nation and Power: An Introduction (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).
- Shohamy, Elana (2006). Language Policy: Hidden Agendas and New Approaches (Abingdon: Routledge).
- Spolsky, Bernard (2004). Language Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
- Spolsky, Bernard (2009). Language Management (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
- United Nations General Assembly, Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, A/RES/47/135, 18 December 1992, available at this website:, or (For more information on the work of the UN in relation to minority rights, see:
- Williams, Colin H. (2008). Linguistic Minorities in Democratic Context (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).
- Wright, Sue (2016). Language Policy and Language Planning: From Nationalism to Globalisation, 2nd edn (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).

Further reading:
- Blommaert, Jan (2013). Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes: Chronicles of Complexity (Bristol: Multilingual Matters).
- Cormack, Mike, and Hourigan, Niamh (eds) (2007). Minority Language Media: Concepts, Critiques, and Case Studies (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters).
- Edwards, John (2010). Minority Languages and Group Identity: Cases and Categories (Amsterdam: John Benjamins).
- Heller, Monica (2011). Paths to Post-Nationalism: A Critical Ethnography of Language and Identity (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
- Lim, Lisa, Christopher Stroud and Lionel Wee (eds) (2018). The Multilingual Citizen: Towards a Politics of Language for Agency and Change (Bristol: Multilingual Matters).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - You will develop your ability to analyse sociolinguistic situations and language policy critically and in relation to other sociolinguistic situations and historical/cultural contexts.
- You will learn to work with others towards a common project.
- You will develop your ability to convey complex information to a range of audiences and for a range of purposes, in a structured and coherent way.
Special Arrangements The quota for this course will be raised to 45 once places have been allocated to Year 2 DELC students.
Keywordslanguage policy,minority languages,Europe,language,sociolinguistics,indigeneity
Course organiserProf Robert Dunbar
Tel: (0131 6)50 3621
Course secretaryMiss Kara McCormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030
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