Computer Systems Engineering (3 Years) [BEng]

Multilingual Manchester (Societal Multilingualism)

Unit code: UCIL20102
Credit Rating: 10
Unit level: Level 2
Teaching period(s): Semester 2
Offered by School of Arts, Histories and Cultures
Available as a free choice unit?: Y




 The principal aims of the course unit are as follows:

  • To acquire first-hand experience in community-based fieldwork in small research groups, including drafting a fieldwork plan, ethical considerations, data collection methods and data assessment
  • To gain familiarity with key concepts from the literature on multilingualism and to apply those in an original essay on new data
  • To make an original contribution to data collection and data interpretation on multilingual practices in Manchester, and to give public dissemination to these original research results
  • To be able to make direct use of this coursework experience for future career development




The unit first introduces students through four lectures to methods of studying language diversity in urban communities and its impact on public service, communities, and civic identity. The focus is on the changes brought about through the complexity of migration patterns, mobility and technology, the concepts of ‘super-diversity’ and ‘trans-nationalism’, the value of languages as skills, as indicators of community heritage and of equal access to services, and as marketing tools.


Our attention then turns to Manchester’s language diversity. We examine the city’s linguistic (and by implication cultural) mosaic, the role of language in access to public services and responses of public services to language diversity (e.g. the structure of language provisions for interpreting and implications for service delivery such as partnerships between public and private sectors), the role of language in marketing and the commercial sector, what we can learn from the city’s linguistic landscapes, and what tools can be used to support the planning of language provisions.


Following the introductory lectures, students will work in groups on their own projects, with support from Teaching Assistants and, by appointment, from the course convenor. Suggestions will be made for topics, and students will receive technical and logistic support where necessary from the Multilingual Manchester project staff. For an insight into relevant topics and student coursework carried out in previous years as part of their course unit see the Multilingual Manchester online archive of reports:

Teaching and learning methods

There are two options which will depend on arrangements for the particular year: A project seminar, or weekly lectures.

Learning outcomes

 By the end of this course students will have gained:

  • familiarity with theories and methods of analysis of multilingual societies, with special emphasis on the sociology of language and principles of language policy in contact situations
  • familiarity with a number of case-studies of language management in multilingual societies, and with current discussions of language endangerment and language death
  • first-hand observation and experience in data collection and analysis on urban multilingualism in Greater Manchester

Knowledge and understanding


  • By the end of this course students will be able to: apply theories and methods of analysis of multilingual societies, to new datasets and ethno-linguistic observations

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to: write up and disseminate original findings in the form of a research report, prioritise data and observations for evaluation and dissemination.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to: coordinate tasks in a research team.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

 By the end of this course students will have acquired the following transferrable skills:

  • conducting research based on secondary and published sources
  • academic writing and referencing
  • compiling a written report
  • organisation of practical research
  • group work
  • conducting fieldwork (interviews)
  • collection and written assessment of fieldwork data
  • interacting with diverse community and municipal institutions

Employability skills

  • LeadershipThe projects also offer opportunities for practical research work in the local community, and a unique opportunity to disseminate the insights that you will acquire to wide external audiences, in particular in local communities, key service providers and local government.
  • Project managementSuch skills and experience are high in demand in a variety of sectors, including education, health, planning, and more; and as commerce becomes ever more globalised, there is increased demand and appreciation of awareness of ways to harness cultural knowledge for the benefit of growth and development.
  • OtherThe suggested project and coursework topics are all of direct relevance to the area of `diversity management┬┐ ┬┐ gaining an awareness of population diversity, developing tools to assess the needs and interests of diverse communities, and developing strategies to respond to those needs and to evaluate existing provisions.

Assessment Further Information


Assessment task

Formative or summative


Weighting within unit

(if summative)

Fieldwork plan and literature review (groups of 3-5)

Formative and summative

2500-3000 words


Fieldwork report and conclusions (groups of 3-5)


2500-3000 words




 Week 1. Types of multilingual societies

Week 2. Multilingual repertoires and domain shift

Week 3. Multilingualism and globalisation; assessing multilingualism

Week 4. Urban multilingualism

Week 5. Manchester’s language diversity

Week 6. Language conflict and language policy

Week 7. Language endangerment and language death

Week 8. Language revitalisation

Week 9. Multilingualism and the internet

Week 10. Project consultation

Week 11. Project consultation

Week 12. Project consultation

Feedback methods


Feedback method

Formative or summative

Comments on Turnitin submission


face to face meeting with the course convenor



Study hours

  • Lectures - 22 hours
  • Seminars - 11 hours
  • Independent study hours - 167 hours

Teaching staff

Yaron Matras - Unit coordinator

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