LING 401: Research Methods in Linguistics and English Language

Course Aims and Objectives

This course is essential preparation for undertaking the research involved in your course work assignments and dissertation and is taken by all students. It deals with theoretical, ethical and methodological issues that are central to research on language and language teaching, and has been designed to provide support for any postgraduate student undertaking research in the Department.

Course Content

Term 1

9 one-hour lectures and associated activities, giving an overview of issues in research in Applied Linguistics, including what is research; different types of research methods; reading research papers; designing research questions; different approaches to collecting data; issues around working with people; and quantitative and qualitative approaches to data analysis. 

Term 2

Students on the MA ALLT schemes will follow a course of 2 hour per week sessions focusing on research methods used in second language research.

Students on other MA schemes will select three from a total of six optional workshops. Each will run for three weeks in either weeks 1, 2, 3, weeks 4, 5, 7 and weeks 8, 9 and 10.  Each session will be two hours long.

Workshops (Sample as run in 2014/2015 – other topics may be offered instead or in addition)

Interviews and questionnaires
Quantitative methods and analysis
Using language corpora
Text analysis
Qualitative data: Ethnographic approaches
Methods for analysing speech articulation

You will also attend a Library session (two hours) in either weeks 6, 7, 8 or 9 which will give you more information about using the Library’s resources in your research.


A 5,000 word written assignment reflecting on aspects of research methodology covered in the course.  This will normally consist of a research proposal for the dissertation, outlining your proposed research questions, data collection and data analysis methods, comparing and contrasting methods and giving a rationale for the methods design drawing on the material covered in the course.

Recommended Reading

Litosseliti, L. (2010). Research methods in linguistics. London: Continuum.
Mackey, A., & Gass, S. M. (2005). Second language research: Methodology and design. Mahwah, NJ; London: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Mackey, A. & Gass, S. M. (Ed.) (2012). Research methods in second language acquisition: A practical guide. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell


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