Forensic Linguistics (Q1085)

15 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

In this module we look at the interaction between linguistics and the law and more specifically we focus on the face-threatening strategies of deception, manipulation and aggression. This is a practical module in which we study the ways that linguistics can be applied in non-academic contexts. We start by examining the role of the linguist as an expert witness in the legal system and in this section we focus on the use of stylistics in investigating disputed authorship, for instance in missing person cases. We also examine and evaluate research into linguistic markers of deception.

In the second part of the module we analyse the language used in the legal process with a particular focus on courtroom discourse and police interviews. You will visit a courtroom and report back on the language practices you observed. We will describe the norms of courtroom discourse with particular reference to the pragmatic and discourse features. Subsequently, we focus on the ways in which certain groups may be linguistically disadvantaged in that process and how they are, or could be, protected from discrimination.

In the final part we briefly address the ways in which the law is applied to language, for instance in determining what counts as hate speech or libel.


100%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay, Report)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: