LING410-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024

Variation and Theory

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 February 2024
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 3 March 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 12 May 2024


Advanced study of aspects of the use of language in social contexts.

Until relatively recently, the points at which those interested in linguistic variation and those interested in linguistic theory had crossed paths over the course of their respective histories were fairly minimal.  In the first part of this course, we explore reasons for this separation in early linguistic theory and then consider the merits and consequences of more recent efforts to synthesise work on language variation with work on (both generative and usage-based) linguistic theory.  Of course, sociolinguistics is not ‘theory-free’ and a great deal of work in sociolinguistics has incorporated insights from theoretical advancements within the variationist tradition, sociology and social psychology.  Later in the course, we therefore explore the connections between studies of language variation and social theory.  In this course, we consider both variation and theory in the broadest possible sense, drawing examples from studies of synchronic and diachronic variation and change, at all levels of the grammar, and connecting with a range of different theoretical frameworks.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will:

- Understand the central principles of several main theoretical frameworks used in linguistics
- Follow arguments and offer your own opinions on current linguistics debates
- Have read a variety of key texts dealing with variation in Linguistic theory
As a student in this course you will not only acquire subject specific skills, you will also acquire a number of transferrable skills.  For example, by the end of this course you will be able to...  
- Read critically and objectively
- Learn to write a response to academic literature
- Write a research proposal
- Engage with research that is presented orally in a research seminar format

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.


Subject to approval of the Head of Department.

Course Coordinator

Lynn Clark


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Reading group quizzes 30% 6 quizzes on Learn.
Literature review 30% During week 10.
Research project proposal 40% End of week 12.

Textbooks / Resources

There is no required textbook for this course.  Essential readings will be assigned each week and posted on Learn but students working at this level are expected to supplement this with their own reading.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $2,046.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences .

All LING410 Occurrences

  • LING410-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024
  • LING410-24S1 (D) Semester One 2024 (Distance)