First year induction

We are very much looking forward to welcoming all new students and are currently making final arrangements for our induction events.

Students taking English Language programmes (either with English or Linguistics) are asked to attend our induction events on: Monday, 12th September from 1pm in room 3S710.

At this event you will get the chance to meet your course-mates, learn more about what you will be studying, get to know your lecturers and find out about the support available to you during your time at UWE.  We’ll end the day with a little party at which you can meet the second year students.

See you all there!

Third year modules


FAO: Final year students

We’re really looking forward to welcoming you back to UWE, after a hopefully restful summer!  You should by now be able to see your personalised timetable on myUWE, but in case you can’t and/or you are thinking about changing modules we thought it would be useful for you to see when things are scheduled.

Monday 9-12 Creative Writing and the Self

Monday 2-5 The Sociolinguistics of Language Contact

Tuesday 10-1 TESOL

Tuesday 3-5 Language Project (5 weeks over the year)

Thursday 9-12 Critical Discourse Analysis

Thursday 2-5 Cultural History of the English Language

Friday 9-12 Gender, (Im)politeness and Power in Language

Friday 1-4 Analysing Spoken English

Graduation 2016

by James Murphy

A few snaps from the Graduation and associated revelry.  Once again, many thanks to Kalei Sutherland for her brilliant organisation of the boat trip.  And to all of you graduating, we wish you every success in whatever you put your hand to next.  Keep us posted with what you are getting up to!

The language of ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ in the EU referendum

by Craig Evans

Voting day is upon us. After months of campaigning, the voting public will make their way to the polling stations to determine whether or not the UK will continue to be part of the European Union. For some, the choice they will indicate on the ballot paper may have been made long ago. For others, the decision is not so clear-cut, and it is these voters who political activists on both sides have been most keen to reach in the final weeks and days of the campaign. This means that, rather than preach to the converted, activists have needed to be more strategic in convincing the undecided that their position – be it leave or remain – is the right position.

One way to sway a wavering voter might be to appeal to emotion (‘pathos’, in Aristotle’s terms). For example, the fear of something that isn’t known (e.g. the precise economic effects of leaving the EU) or something that can’t be controlled (e.g. immigration). Regardless of the reality of either situation, this fear might be just enough to nudge voters one way or the other. Little wonder then that politicians have been shamelessly repeating expressions like ‘keep our seat at the table’ (Remainers) and ‘take back control’ (Brexiters). The first appeals to the fear of being shut out from a place of influence, the second to the fear of being powerless. Continue reading

Richard Coates on ‘Word of Mouth’, Radio 4

by Richard Coates

Richard Coates put in a guest appearance on “Word of Mouth” (BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 12 April, 16.00, repeated Monday 18 April, 23.00 and available on catch-up, short clip, full whack This show is hosted by former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (a UWE honorary doctor, incidentally) and Dr Laura Wright of Cambridge University. You might expect something heavyweight after the appearance of the world-famous Professor Steven Pinker of Harvard University on the programme the previous week, but, true to the very wide-ranging concerns of the series, it was an informed discussion of the history of English house-naming. Informed, but easy on the ear.

Richard didn’t get a chance to discuss two of his favourite house-names: the heroes’ hall in the Beowulf poem called Heorot ‘Stag’, and the earliest name of an English house that wasn’t a pub, dating from the 16th century: The Vyne, a stately home in Sherborne St John, Hampshire. The owner knew his Bible – see if you can work out an explanation!


Descriptive and prescriptive grammar

by Jeanette Sakel

I was at the annual meeting of the Association for National Teaching Fellows in Birmingham these last two days – and not only did I learn a lot about playful pedagogies and show a poster about my short video summaries for language, but I also produced a short video on descriptive and prescriptive approaches to language. Here it is:

How to tame long, unclear sentences

by Maria McCann

Royal Literary Fund Fellow in the Department of Arts and Cultural Industries.

Problem: sheer length

Solution: split them! Oddly, many students never consider this obvious step, which can resolve several problems at a stroke. Remember, however, that long sentences are not a fault in themselves. Good writing employs a variety of sentence forms.

Problem: the subject of the sentence appears very late

By being able to identify human voices from as early as twelve hours after birth, babies are perceptive to the sounds of human language from very early on.

Solution: move the subject to the beginning

Babies can identify human voices from as early as twelve hours after birth, and this makes them perceptive to the sounds of human language from very early on.

Problem: strings of relative pronouns (who, that, which) and over-use of this

Taskill chooses to write in iambic pentameter, which is commonly used in English sonnets. This is surprising, since… These sentences are short, but already there is potential ambiguity: what is surprising? Is it that sonneteers use iambic pentameter, or that Taskill does so?

Solution 1: introduce ‘recap’ words

Taskill chooses to write in iambic pentameter, a metre commonly used in English sonnets. This choice is surprising, since….

This is already clearer. Altering This choice to Her choice would make it better still.

Solution 2: repeat a key word

Smith took measures to keep down public spending, though he believed that the state should be responsible for certain public amenities, which were not fully supported.  

Does which refer to Smith’s measures or to the amenities? Repeating a key word helps:

Smith took measures to keep down public spending, though he believed that the state should be responsible for certain public amenities, amenities which were not fully supported.

The advice above is adapted from Julia Copus’s Brilliant Writing Tips for Students.

If you’d like to book a confidential one-to-one session with me to work on your writing skills email me at I’m in 3S201 on Frenchay on Wednesdays and Thursdays until the 16th June.