MA Linguistics

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Language Policy and Planning

Unit code LELA60751
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course introduces students to a range of approaches within the field of language policy and planning in various settings. We will examine various notions of what language policy consists of, how it operates and its historical roots, focusing on three main components of language policy and planning: (1) actual practice, (2) beliefs and values and (3) language management. Different institutional frameworks (such as education, local, national and international governance) as well as bottom-up and top-down approaches to language policy and planning will be critically discussed drawing examples from a range of micro and macro contexts. Throughout the course students will develop a critical understanding of the relationship between language rights, nationalism, standardisation, ideology, language endangerment and revitalisation.


Students will be able to address questions such as:

  • How/why have policies emerged in various contexts?
  • How have approaches to language policy and planning changed over time?
  • What are the different ways in which language planning can take shape?
  • How do attitudes and ideologies impact upon language behaviour?
  • How do policies account for (or fail to account for) language rights?
  • How do media facilitate change in language use in society?
  • In what ways does language policymaking affect the teaching and learning of languages?
  • What are the differences between instrumental and integrative motivations in language planning?
  • How do language-as-right and language-as-resource orientations in language planning impact on endangered languages?
  • How do language policies help to determine which language variety is sanctioned for use in society?
  • How can the “success” of a language policy be established?

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Explore dominant theories of language policy and planning
  • Clearly understand methodological approaches to language policy and planning
  • Examine language policy contexts in the United Kingdom and abroad

Assess language attitudes and the relative success of language planning efforts

Teaching and learning methods

  • 1 weekly 2 hours lecture
  • 1 weekly 1 hour seminar
  • Blackboard discussion forum OR closed Facebook group to facilitate debate
  • Revision materials made available on Blackboard

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Identify and apply appropriate methodological approaches to complex datasets
  • Understand the relevance of language policy research within the field of socio-linguistics
  • Critically understand policies in international contexts

Understand the social, cultural and ideological properties of language planning

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Engage in independent reflection and enquiry
  • Engage in the discussion and critical evaluation of theories and approaches within this area
  • Critically evaluate empirical claims in different contexts by drawing on theory and methods
  • Use empirical evidence to support synthetic conclusions and interpretations

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Extrapolate patterns from complex data sets and (where necessary) propose theories of social and linguistic behaviour to account for the
  • Critically analyse and evaluate language policies and planning efforts
  • Undertake analyses of language policy and planning and communicate findings to a diverse audience
  • Apply findings of academic research to practical issues and problems

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Understand issues of citizenship and rights and how these pertain to language policy and planning
  • Draw on academic research to make effective practical recommendations for policy
  • Investigate how considerations of language policy are applicable to teaching and learning
  • Use the theories and methods of language policy, planning, and attitudes in other areas of socio-linguistic research

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Project management
Oral communication
Written communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%
Set exercise 40%

Feedback methods

  • Written feedback on essay
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Recommended reading

Fishman, J. A. (2006) Language loyalty, language planning and language revitalization. Multilingual Matters.

Haugen, E. (1966) Dialect, Language, Nation. American anthropologist, 68, 922-935.

Haugen, E. (1972) National and international languages. IN Haugen, E. (Ed.) The Ecology of Language. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Kaplan, R. B. & Baldauf, R. B. (1997) Language planning from practice to theory. Clavedon: Multilingual Matters.

Koenig, M. & de Varennes, F. (Eds.) (2001) Lesser used languages and the law in Europe. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies 3:1, UNESCO

Matras, Y. (2004) The future of Romani: toward a policy of linguistic pluralism. Roma Rights Quarterly, 1:31-44

Skutnabb-Kangas, T. & Phillipson, R. (1995) Linguistic human rights: overcoming linguistic discrimination. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Wright, S. (2004) Language policy and language planning. From nationalism to globalisation. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 36
Independent study hours
Independent study 114

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