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Major: Sociolinguistics

Award(s) to which this major is a Qualifying Major:



Department of Linguistics
Faculty of Human Sciences

This major must be completed as part of an award. The general requirements for the award must be satisfied in order to graduate.

Requirements for the Major:

Completion of a minimum of 24 credit points including the following prescribed units:

Credit points

100 level

Language: Its Structure and Use (3)

200 level

Introduction to Sociolinguistics (3)
6cp from
Introduction to Psycholinguistics (3)
Introductory Phonetics and Phonology (3)
Communication in Social Institutions (3)
Language, Globalisation and World Englishes (3)

300 level

Bilingualism (3)
9cp from
Second Language Teaching and Learning (3)
Culture and Language (3)
Advanced Communication in Social Institutions (3)
Language as Evidence (3)


Units marked with a C are Capstone units.
Overview and Aims of the Program Sociolinguistics is a key sub discipline of Linguistics. After completing the first year foundational unit that is required of any student studying linguistics in the Department in no matter what the program, in the second year of the Sociolinguistics major, students begin to specialise, with the required 200 level unit (LING219) introducing them to core areas of Sociolinguistics, while the option set at 200 level offers a choice of units relevant to social scientists with an interest in the workings of language and the ways language varies in social and cultural contexts.

The 300 level units offer a range of relevant special interest topics, with the key unit being the required Capstone unit. This unit concentrates on bilingualism, a vital area of knowledge for any sociolinguistics graduate wanting employment or future study in the field in an increasingly multicultural Australia, as well as in many countries around the world.
Graduate Capabilities

The Graduate Capabilities Framework articulates the fundamentals that underpin all of Macquarie’s academic programs. It expresses these as follows:

Cognitive capabilities
(K) discipline specific knowledge and skills
(T) critical, analytical and integrative thinking
(P) problem solving and research capability
(I) creative and innovative

Interpersonal or social capabilities
(C) effective communication
(E) engaged and ethical local and global citizens
(A) socially and environmentally active and responsible

Personal capabilities
(J) capable of professional and personal judgement and initiative
(L) commitment to continuous learning

Program Learning Outcomes By the end of this program it is anticipated you should be able to:
1. demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the ways in which the phonological/phonetic, syntactic, morphological, semantic and pragmatic features of a language can relate to social dimensions and sociality, and cultural beliefs and values across a range of the world’s societies and cultures (K, T)
2. critically evaluate a variety of theoretical and philosophical views on language and its social use by monolinguals and multilingual individuals, and how it changes over time, relevant to how these underpin specific data and methodological practices (K, t, I)
3. apply an understanding of theories, methods and issues related to ethical and reliable natural language data collection to carry out analysis of language and society/culture links in a range of social contexts (K, T, P, I, E, A)
4. design and conduct detailed research relevant to human communication in culture and society using natural language data, and critically evaluate the design and conduct of the research carried out by others (T, P, I, C, E, A, J)
5. apply relevant sociolinguistic concepts to real world issues about language and its use by monolinguals and multilinguals (T, P, I, E, A)
6. demonstrate autonomy, and a well-developed capacity to engage in self-directed study, either as individual and as part of a group, relevant to solving real world sociolinguistic problems and critically evaluating sociolinguistic theories and methods (T, P, I, E, A, J)
7. communicate and debate, through speaking or writing, knowledge, skills and ideas about language, society and culture, to the wider community, and in professional settings (T, I, C, E, A, J, L).
Learning and Teaching Methods In the Sociolinguistics major for your Bachelor Of Social Science, you will be encouraged to acquire theoretical knowledge and understanding of the foundations of language study in general and sociolinguistics theory in particular. In addition you will be exposed to some practical applications of socio-cultural approaches to language enquiry as you progress through to the senior levels of study.

You will be guided to work both collaboratively and independently through a variety of learning activities. These activities may vary according to different areas of specialisation within sociolinguistics but will include:
• background reading from textbooks and academic articles
• face-to-face lectures, tutorials and seminars
• online discussions and blogs
• language data analysis
• research projects both in groups and as independent language researchers.

All learning and teaching in the Linguistics Department is underpinned and motivated by a strong language research focus within the Department. In particular, there are several senior members of staff conducting sociolinguistics research with national and international impact. Part of our teaching and learning methodology involves informing students about our research as well as encouraging them to participate in it wherever possible.
Assessment Assessment across the sociolinguistics major will offer both formative and summative feedback to students as they progress through the program. Summative feedback is that given at the end of a task and will include both the grade and comments on your performance. Formative feedback is feedback given either while you are progressing though a task, or where one feedback on one task is relevant to any subsequent task or tasks, or where one task is nested into a longer one.

All units in the sociolinguistics major program will involve summative assessment but many will also offer formative assessment: that is you will receive feedback that should advantage you in your performance in another task or other tasks. For instance, formative feedback is given at first year level by means of a short, and comparatively risk free task, in the core first year unit, LING111, by means of a 500 word essay where students’ academic literacy skills are assessed and commented on. At second and third year levels, formative feedback may occur within nested tasks and/or during research preparation, for example by way of completion of online ethics and academic integrity modules. Feedback from these tasks should inform your performance in later summative tasks such as class quizzes and research reports.

In each unit of study the Unit Guide will set out clearly what is assessed, how it will be assessed and the weighting of each assessment task. The standards and criteria for the assessment of each assignment task will also often be set out in full in the Unit Guide. However in some units the Unit Guide will contain generalised information about standards and criteria, with the more specific information being delivered by way of detailed instructions accompanying each assessment task.

Depending on choices the student makes from within the option sets offered in the major, assessment tasks will include:
• writing essays, critical reviews and research reports of various lengths and complexity
• critical evaluation of various theoretical concepts in sociolinguistics
• gathering, transcribing and analysing language data, including conversation and other interactional data
• critical evaluation of language data collected by other sociolinguists
• posting blogs or participating in other kinds of online activities
• tutorial and seminar presentations (group and/or individual).

The Capstone unit, LING324 Bilingualism, is the culmination of your study of sociolinguistics. In this unit, the online discussion tool is used for reflective forum postings, where you bring together your journey through sociolinguistics. The main assessment task will involve you conducting your own research project on one aspect of bilingualism. The earlier tasks in this unit provide formative assessment to inform your performance in the major task for summative assessment, which is to write a report on your research project.
Recognition of Prior Learning

Macquarie University may recognise prior formal, informal and non-formal learning for the purpose of granting credit towards, or admission into, a program. The recognition of these forms of learning is enabled by the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Policy (see and its associated Procedures and Guidelines. The RPL pages contain information on how to apply, links to registers, and the approval processes for recognising prior learning for entry or credit.

Information can be found at:

Support for Learning

Macquarie University aspires to be an inclusive and supportive community of learners where all students are given the opportunity to meet their academic and personal goals. The University offers a comprehensive range of free and accessible student support services which include academic advice, counselling and psychological services, advocacy services and welfare advice, careers and employment, disability services and academic skills workshops amongst others. There is also a bulk billing medical service located on campus.

Further information can be found at

Campus Wellbeing contact details:
Phone: +61 2 9850 7497

Program Standards and Quality

The program is subject to an ongoing comprehensive process of quality review in accordance with a pre-determined schedule that complies with the Higher Education Standards Framework. The review is overseen by Macquarie University's peak academic governance body, the Academic Senate and takes into account feedback received from students, staff and external stakeholders.

Graduate Destinations and Employability Graduates with a major in sociolinguistics in the Bachelor of Social Science are well placed to gain employment in public service departments (local state or federal) and non-government organisations especially those dealing with migrant and/or refugee matters. Some organisations and corporations in private industry also welcome graduates with a language based major where social and cultural contexts are relevant. This major can also be used as a pathway into a graduate certificate in TESOL, leading to employment in second language teaching in Australia or overseas, or Graduate certificate in editing and electronic publishing in preparation for a career in publishing. For students wishing to undertake further study in the area of sociolinguistics, this major can be a successful pathway into the MRes and then on to PhD.

In addition, this is a useful major to partner in double major programs with such majors as anthropology, sociology and politics, in order to enhance career prospects but also to lead successfully into postgraduate study in such areas as development studies and Public Policy.
Assessment Regulations

This program is subject to Macquarie University regulations, including but not limited to those specified in the Assessment Policy, Academic Honesty Policy, the Final Examination Policy and relevant University Rules. For all approved University policies, procedures, guidelines and schedules visit

Inherent requirements are the essential components of a course or program necessary for a student to successfully achieve the core learning outcomes of a course or program. Students must meet the inherent requirements to complete their Macquarie University course or program.

Inherent requirements for Macquarie University programs fall under the following categories:

Physical: The physical inherent requirement is to have the physical capabilities to safely and effectively perform the activities necessary to undertake the learning activities and achieve the learning outcomes of an award.

Cognition: The inherent requirement for cognition is possessing the intellectual, conceptual, integrative and quantitative capabilities to undertake the learning activities and achieve the learning outcomes of an award.

Communication: The inherent requirement for communication is the capacity to communicate information, thoughts and ideas through a variety of mediums and with a range of audiences.

Behavioural: The behavioural inherent requirement is the capacity to sustain appropriate behaviour over the duration of units of study to engage in activities necessary to undertake the learning activities and achieve the learning outcomes of an award.

For more information see

2019 Unit Information

When offered:
S1 Day
Permission of Executive Dean of Faculty
HSC Chinese, CHN113, CHN148