BA English Language and English Literature / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Stylistics of English

Course unit fact file
Unit code LELA21512
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course introduces students to the analysis of the registers of the English language and 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 characteristics of its author, thus exploring how style varies by social groups and across individuals.

This course is strongly recommended for LELA31632 Forensic Linguistics.


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 important advances in register analysis
  • To be able to apply linguistic techniques to describe the register of a text


The syllabus below is an indication only:

Week 1. Registers, genres, styles

Week 2. Register analysis and the situational parameters

Week 3. The analysis of linguistic features

Week 4. The spoken registers of English

Week 5. The written registers of English

Week 6. Historical evolution of English registers

Week 7. Multidimensional analysis

Week 8. The register space of English

Week 9. Styles and text types

Week 10. Register variation and sociolinguistics

Week 11. Revision

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching for the course will include lectures and computer lab sessions. Lectures and supporting materials will be made available on Blackboard.

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 notions 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 in relation to its context

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

Assessment TaskFormative or SummativeWeighting
Coursework ProposalFormative0%
Mock ExamFormative0%
Coursework - An assignment reporting on a register analysis of two registers chosen by the students.Summative70%
Final ExamSummative30%


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 16.5
Seminars 16.5
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Leigh Harrington Unit coordinator

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