LING30170 Topics in Language and Law

Academic Year 2021/2022

TThis module will critically explore a range of topics relating to the use of language, both in the commission of criminal offences, and as evidence in legal settings. The beginning of the module will focus on current key areas of linguistic research relating to language in criminal or legal contexts. These areas include language crimes (such as threats or bribery), hate speech, trademark disputes, and earwitnessing. From there, students will be introduced to the basic principles of performing authorship attribution of forensically-relevant texts. Finally, students will explore some examples of real-life cases involving the presentation of linguistic evidence in a legal setting, and reflect on what factors may constitute “good practice.”

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

Describe and reflect on the notion of "language crimes" and "hate speech."

Critically evaluate a range of limitations relating to the presentation of linguistic evidence in a legal setting.

Identify and describe the challenges faced during trademark disputes and the collection of voice description testimony in a legal context.

Analyse written texts using basic authorship attribution techniques.

Apply analytical tools/theories from other areas of language and linguistics to forensic linguistic data.

Create a poster or oral presentation to describe the use of forensic linguistics or forensic audio analysis in a real-life criminal case.

Indicative Module Content:

The following topics will be addressed in this module:

Language crimes

Language attitudes and bias in a legal context

Hate speech


Translation and intercultural communication in a legal context

Trademark disputes

Authorship attribution analysis

Evidential standards

Presenting linguistic evidence in a legal context

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Online Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module combines a number of different teaching approaches:

Pre-recorded lectures

Online tutorials

Online group and individual activity-based learning

Critical reflection of data sets/scenarios 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: VLE work Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: essay-based discussion Week 8 n/a Graded No


Essay: essay Week 5 n/a Graded No


Presentation: oral presentation or poster Week 12 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

All group and individual assignments that are submitted during the term will be returned to students with comments. In addition, comments will be provided to the whole class on commonly occurring issues via the Bright Space announcement function and orally in class. Students will also be encouraged to raise issues on assessment in tutorials or office hours. The aim is to help students identify where and how their work can be improved moving forward.

Name Role
Dr Sarah Kelly Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31 Mon 11:00 - 11:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 Wed 12:00 - 12:50