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Unit information: Language Variation and Change in German in 2021/22

Unit name Language Variation and Change in German
Unit code GERM30074
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Havinga
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of German
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit focuses on language variation and change in German. After an introduction to sociolinguistic theories on this topic, ways of studying language variation and change will be explored, focusing on corpus linguistics. Students will learn how to compile their own data, how to work with existing German corpora, and how to use text analytic software (AntConc and SketchEngine) to investigate the data for diachronic, regional, and/or social variation.

Starting from examples of language change from canonical textbook literature, students will learn to carry out their own linguistic analyses, encouraging them to challenge common language ideologies. No specialised computing knowledge is required for students of this unit.


  • To introduce students to a significant body of knowledge of a complexity appropriate to final year level.

  • To further skills of linguistic analysis and research and build on the students’ existing knowledge of varieties of German.

  • To engage students in quantitative methods and corpus linguistic tools for text analytical research.

  • To develop further skills of synthesis, analysis and independent research, building on the skills developed at Level I.

  • To equip students with knowledge and skills that will transfer to other working environments, including postgraduate study.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, successful students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate sophisticated knowledge of German varieties and language change;
  2. Develop and deploy advanced topic-specific skills: quantitative methods and text analytic tools for linguistic analysis;
  3. Articulate an advanced understanding of processes involved in language change;
  4. Illustrate advanced skill in the selection, synthesis, evaluation and analysis of relevant topic-based material, appropriate to level H/5;
  5. Formulate independent judgements in a range of written forms in an appropriate style and at a high level of complexity;
  6. Develop presentation and collaborative skills.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation.

Assessment Details

1 x 2,500-word project proposal and literature review (40%); Testing ILOs 1-5.

1 x project poster presentation (60%) Testing ILOs 1-6.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

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