Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Discourse Analysis

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Institute of Linguistics and Language Technology

DESCRIPTION Discourse is the primary meaning-making resource available to human beings. Produced by both humans and machines in forms ranging from written and spoken to signed and multimodal, it constitutes the locus and essence of face-to-face, technology-mediated and human-computer interaction. Discourse analysis is the study of how the various forms of discourse, in their diverse contexts of use, function to create, shape and communicate meaning in interaction.

Drawing on a number of theoretical and methodological approaches, including Systemic Functional Linguistics, Exchange Structure Theory and Critical Discourse Analysis, this study-unit analyses discourse in terms of its structure, its context of use and its users.

The analysis of structure begins with a consideration of what constitutes text, co-text and intertextuality, and examines the features that impart cohesion and coherence to discourse before focusing on genre as configuration of discourse-structural elements.

Investigation of context of use is intended to elucidate how discourse is situated in contexts which it simultaneously constructs. Human-human and human-computer interaction are covered, and discourse is treated as the site for the display and examination of distributed cognitive processing.

Central to understanding discourse in terms of its users are the notions of intersubjectivity, shared and asymmetric information states, and coordinated action, all of which come into play whenever discourse users engage in communicative activity. Taking the view that discourse is action, the study-unit explores these notions and accounts for the relation between discourse, point of view and other frames of spatial reference.

Study-unit Aims:

The aims of the unit are to introduce students to:
(i) a conception of discourse as communicative interaction; and
(ii) a number of influential, theoretical and methodological approaches to discourse analysis.
In reaching these aims, the unit builds on earlier work in Conversation Analysis, and prepares students for later studies in Multimodality and Natural Language Processing.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of language as a network of options for the realisation of discourse;
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of discourse by describing it in terms of its structure, context of use and its users.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- describe, compare and critically evaluate different theoretical approaches to the study of discourse;
- distinguish different discourse genres in terms of their constituent structure;
- produce theoretically-informed, data-driven analyses of discourse.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Gee, J. P., & Handford, M. (Eds.). (2014). The Routledge handbook of discourse analysis. London: Routledge.
- Stenström, A. B. (1994). An Introduction to spoken interaction. London: Longman.
- Thompson, G. (2014). Introducing functional grammar (3rd ed.). Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation SEM2 Yes 10%
Presentation SEM2 Yes 10%
Presentation SEM2 Yes 10%
Project SEM2 Yes 70%

LECTURER/S Paul A. Falzon

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.