ELL119 : Introduction to Research Methods in Linguistics

Convener(s): Dr Nigel Harwood


General Information

This module provides an introduction to researching language, with a particular focus on the methods that can be used to accomplish this. The module has two general aims: first, to give you a better understanding of what is involved in the study of language – of doing linguistics; and second, to allow you to develop skills and an academic ‘toolkit’ to engage in and with linguistic research, both through independent initiative and collaboration. Different sub-disciplines of linguistics approach language and its study in different ways, and throughout the module you will encounter some of these methods. You will also read a number of journal articles which feature these methods, and critique the articles during seminar discussions. By the end of the module, you will have developed important subject-specific skills as well as general key skills relevant to linguistics, which will be helpful to you in later linguistics modules.


Lectures, seminars, independent study  2 x 1-hour weekly lectures: ➢ Introducing you to different research methods …like questionnaires, interviews, observations, etc.  1-hour weekly seminar: ➢ Critiquing articles which feature the research methods covered in the lectures …like an article which features interviews… More detail here: Interactive lectures Interactive lectures will provide input but also allow time for comments, questions, and discussion. During discussion tasks, students will have the opportunity to reflect upon the theory and practice of using the research methods in focus more fully. Seminars Consolidation and extension seminars will require students to discuss a pre-assigned linguistics research article which utilizes the research methods which were in focus in the lectures that particular week. They will be asked to prepare their responses to various questions before the seminar which relate to identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the article, the research design, and the alternative methodological approaches the author of the article could have deployed.


1 x 2,000-word essay; 1 x 2-hour exam  Essay: 2,000-word critique of an empirical journal article in linguistics, focusing particularly on its methods and research design  2-hour exam: Series of short answers, e.g., ‘Write 300 words on the pros and cons of using closed-ended questionnaires, referring to the relevant research literature’.

Contact Details

Dr Nigel Harwood, 0114 222 8464


Information last changed: Wednesday 29th of June 2016 :: 09:07:37 AM (BST)

Please note: This module may or may not run in any individual session. Please check with the course convener.


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK