English Language in the Media 2 - LL537

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 5 15 (7.5) MS H Colthup checkmark-circle


In this module, students continue to develop and explore the themes introduced in LING5360 – English Language in the Media 1.

Here, the focus is on semiotics as applied in the linguistic analysis of a wide range of media discourse types, but with particular emphasis on advertising. Areas covered include: semiotics, the work of Saussure, the British press, multimodality, the new media and social networking. 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.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Examination (2 hours) – 50%
Semiotic Analysis (1,500 words) – 40%
Presentation (10 minutes) – 10%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Aitchison, Jean and Diana Lewis (eds) (2003). New Media Language. London: Routledge.
Barthes, Roland. (1990) S/Z. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Bell, Allan (1990). The Language of News Media. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Bignell, Jonathan (2002). Media Semiotics: An Introduction. Manchester: MUP.
Chandler, Daniel (2007). Semiotics: The Basics. London: Routledge.
Crystal, David (2006). The Language of the Internet. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP.
Kress, Gunther (2009). Multimodality: a social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London: Routledge.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

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;
Assess the applicability of these theories to current media outputs; for example, in terms of advertising, broadsheets, tabloids, multimodal discourses and other genre;
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;
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;
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;
Appreciate how their own knowledge and cultural background contributes to their understanding of media discourse;
Understand the ways in which media organisations manipulate and shape, as well as respond to, trends in the wider culture.


  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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