BA English Language and Spanish

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Stylistics of English

Unit code LELA21511
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course introduces students to the analysis of the registers of the English language and on their internal linguistic variation. The course aims at providing an understanding of the concepts of register, genre, and style, as well as a practical ability in analysing texts using computational and statistical methods. The main topic of the course is the analysis of register and how language varies according to use. The course also introduces the students to the application of a multidimensional analysis to the exploration of register differences between text types. In addition, the course also focuses on the linguistic variation in English dependent on the text’s author, thus exploring how style varies by social groups and across individuals.


The principal aims of the course unit are as follows:

  • To understand the notion of register, genre, and style
  • To understand how English texts vary linguistically for register and style
  • To know the most recent advances in register analysis
  • To be able to apply linguistic techniques to describe the register of a text

Knowledge and understanding

  • Have an in-depth understanding of the concepts of register, genre, and style
  • Have an understanding of the basic methodologies for register analysis
  • Have a thorough understanding of the linguistic characteristics of the most common registers of the English language
  • Know the main theoretical advances on sociolinguistic variation in style

Intellectual skills

  • Critically evaluate the literature regarding register analysis
  • Be able to describe the extra-linguistic context of a text
  • Be able to describe the linguistic features of a text

Practical skills

  • Apply qualitative and computational linguistic methods to identify linguistic variation
  • Be able to use computational methods to apply a multidimensional analysis
  • Be able to apply the essential statistics for the comparison of registers

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Develop analytical skills
  • Develop verbal and written communication skills
  • Be able to apply descriptive linguistic techniques to analyse real world texts
  • Develop ability to use computational and statistical methods

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students will develop analytical skills at high level, especially in the field of the analysis of natural language.
Through the application of computational and statistical techniques, students will be equipped with useful knowledge that can be applied to data mining of English texts.
Written communication
Finally, students will benefit from enhanced spoken and written communicative skills, in particular in relation to the expression of precise and concise analytical conclusions.
Students will also develop profound knowledge of the registers of the English language, thus allowing them to critically assess texts for their appropriateness given a particular communicative situation.

Assessment methods

Analysis 60%
Exam 40%
Analysis proposal NA (formative)
Mock exam NA (formative)


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on proposal


Mock exam feedback


Written feedback on coursework/exam



Recommended reading

Biber, D. 1988. Variation across Speech and Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Biber, D. 1989. “A Typology of English Texts.” Linguistics 27 (1): 3–43.

Biber, D., and Conrad, S. 2009. Register, Genre, and Style. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Cloran, C. 1989. “Learning through Language: The Social Construction of Gender.” In Language Development: Learning Language, Learning Culture, edited by Hasan, R. & Martin, J, 111–51. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Halliday, M. A. K., and Hasan, R. 1989. Language, Context, and Text: Aspects of Language in a Social-Semiotic Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrea Nini Unit coordinator

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