Language in Journalism and Advertising - LING5370

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 5 15 (7.5) Heidi Colthup checkmark-circle


In this module the focus is on semiotics as applied in the linguistic analysis of a wide range of media discourse types, but with particular emphasis on journalism and advertising. Areas covered include: semiotics, the work of Saussure, the British press, multimodality, the new and social media. Also discussed are complex and challenging ideas around the notion of words, signs, and grammar in context. Students will further develop the ability to approach the language of the media critically and to read the press perceptively so as to understand the acute importance of the media in a democratic society.


Contact hours

Contact hours: 20 hours
Private study house: 130 hours
Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

• Written assignment 1 (1,000 words) 40%
• Written assignment 2 (1,500 words) 60%

Re-assessment methods
100% coursework

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices. The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1 Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of key semiotic and linguistic theories (including Barthes's notion of mythology, Peirce's semiotics and De Saussure's conception of the linguistic sign) coming to a systematic understanding of key aspects of this field;
2 Assess the applicability of these theories to current media outputs; for example, in terms of advertising, broadsheets, tabloids, multimodal discourses and other genre;
3 Accurately carry out detailed analysis of a range of media discourse genres (including newspaper texts, magazine advertising, online advertising and multimodal discourses in general) demonstrating cogent application of the particular linguistic approach under discussion with particular emphasis on approaches gleaned from semiotics;
4 Use semiotic theory (and rigorous linguistic apparatus more generally) to make informed critical and evaluative judgments about a wide range of media discourse, and be able to make use of this knowledge outside of the contexts in which it was first encountered;
5 Understand how theoretical approaches to the media impact on a wide range of themes and topics, for example: genre, narrative, and concepts of culture and community, gender, politics and ideology, identity;
6 Appreciate how their own knowledge and cultural background contributes to their understanding of media discourse;
7 Understand the ways in which media organisations manipulate and shape, as well as respond to, trends in the wider culture.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1 Engage in critical reflection, verbal discussion and written analysis of various media texts and secondary critical commentary and to devise and sustain arguments relating to these analyses;
2 Make judgments about the appropriateness of different theoretical approaches to media texts and evaluate the efficacy of such approaches;
3 Demonstrate the ability to undertake independent learning (exercising initiative and personal responsibility), use secondary texts with critical discrimination, and reflect critically on their own academic work and present cogent arguments in written form.


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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