BA Film Studies and Linguistics

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Cognitive Linguistics

Course unit fact file
Unit code LELA30182
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course covers central topics in Cognitive Linguistics (CL), a cover term for a group of approaches to the study of language which constitute an alternative to formal and structural approaches. CL assumes that language is not a separate and autonomous cognitive faculty, but part of general cognition; that linguistic meaning is dynamic and grounded in cultural and physical experience, and thus features an inescapable degree of subjectivity; and that grammar is meaningful and structured by users’ conceptualizations, as opposed to being essentially arbitrary. Centrally, the framework is usage-based, meaning that it makes no principled distinction between competence and performance, but assumes that knowledge of language emerges from language use.

Subtopics covered include: Categorization, Frames and domains, Construal, Metaphor and Metonymy, Polysemy, Iconicity, Constructions, and Grammaticalization.

NB! While its basis in usage means that parts of Cognitive Linguistics have taken a strong quantitative turn in recent decades, the focus of this module is on the kinds of qualitative analysis that underpin quantitative work.


One or more of the following are recommended, but not required:  

LELA10332 The Study of Meaning 

LELA10301 English Word and Sentence Structure 

LELA10201 Language, Mind, and Brain 

LELA20291 Pragmatics: Meaning, Context, and Interaction 


The aim of the module is to introduce students to a set of approaches which assume that language is shaped by the conceptualization of human experience and by the need to communicate such conceptualizations to others. We will study central aspects of the cognitivist approach to language and look at how the aims, assumptions, and commitments of this school of thought differ from competing approaches, and at the type of arguments that are brought to bear in the debate.

Knowledge and understanding

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Understand central concepts in Cognitive Linguistics and be able to apply them to data from a variety of languages, prominently including English.
  • Understand how and why cognitive approaches to language differ from formal and structural approaches.
  • Have a deeper understanding of the intellectual history of the field of linguistics.

Intellectual skills

Abstract thinking skills

Reasoning and argumentation skills

Practical skills

Qualitative data analysis skills

Problem solving skills

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Communication skills

Problem solving skills

Argumentation skills

Independent study skills

Time-management skills

Employability skills

The ability to identify a problem area and to determine what sort of data and methods are relevant for addressing it The ability to critically assess data and arguments adduced in support of a position The ability to clearly structure and compose short essays. In addition, students will have acquired an enhanced understanding of human conceptualization patterns and how they affect linguistic communication. In particular, this will be useful for students who wish to go into fields that centrally involve communication, such as teaching, journalism, or public relations.

Assessment methods

Midterm short-answer exam                                   25%

Exam                                                                      75%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Oral feedback on contributions to class discussions


Generalized written feedback on midterm

Formative and Summative

Written and oral feedback on exam


Recommended reading

Set text:

  • Evans, Vyvyan & Melanie Green. 2006. Cognitive Linguistics: an Introduction. London: Routledge.


Additional recommended texts:

  • Croft, William & D. Alan Cruse. 2004. Cognitive Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Geeraerts, Dirk & Hubert Cuyckens, eds. 2010. The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Taylor, John R. 20043. Linguistic Categorization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Ungerer, Friedrich & Hans-Jörg Schmid. 20062. An Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics. London: Routledge.

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Maj-Britt Hansen Unit coordinator

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