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Course overview

Communicating well within the professional environment helps build relationships, increase productivity, and boost morale. This course is therefore ideal for working professionals, while the web-based learning means you can study alongside research-active academic staff and fellow students.

We study workplace communication from an evidence-based, linguistic perspective. You will be relating theory to practice, bringing value and experience to your professional development goals.

You will:

  • learn about key ideas and concepts in applied linguistics
  • develop core analytical skills
  • be trained in research methods

Your learning will be based in real-world examples and datasets, including the huge variety of modes of communication that make up our workplace interactions, from face-to-face dialogue to remote conferencing and written communication.

You can study to a level which suits you, choosing from PG Certificate (60 credits), PG Diploma (120 credits) or MA (180 credits).

Why choose this course?

Join the community

meet your tutors and fellow students at our annual Summer School

Ranked 9th

in the UK by 'research power'

Research Excellence Framework 2014

Want flexible study?

specialise in one of ten areas on our MA Applied English Distance Learning Programme

Top 100 University

Ranked in the top 100 Universities

QS World University rankings 2021

Course content

This course is made up of 180 credits, broken down into six 20-credit modules and a 60-credit dissertation.

Each module lasts for four months, so students should complete three modules each year. During the first two years of the course, you should therefore complete all six modules, then move onto your dissertation.

 

Modules

Preparatory module

All students are required to pass a 20-credit preparatory module, in order to progress to the rest of the course:

Professional Communication at Work

The module explores language as it is used within the professional setting of work, focusing in particular on the crucial role played by discourse in people’s professional lives. Through the employment of a variety of contemporary frameworks for examining discourse and communication strategies, including linguistic ethnography, interactional sociolinguistics and conversation analysis, students will have the opportunity to analyse communication as it is used in real-life professional contexts. The spoken and written interactions explored in the module will come from a wide range of occupational settings, including offices, factories, and healthcare and government institutions. The module offers a practical and rich resource for the analysis of workplace talk. Students will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the different communicative strategies involved in the establishment of rapport, decision-making and conflict management. The module, thus, aims to address relevant and contemporary issues relating to language use at work, offering students with the chance to explore the role played by discourse in this important sphere of social life.

MA students only – you will also take the below 20-credit core module just before the dissertation:

Research Methods for Professional Communication

This module looks at methods for collecting and analysing data from workplace communication, giving an overview of quantitative, corpus linguistic and qualitative approaches and the linguistic theories that underpin them. The course will incorporate practical guidance on conducting fieldwork, research ethics, collecting and storing linguistic data (including digital texts and the recording of video/audio data) and methods for transcription. Corpus methods introduced will include the retrieval and interpretation of word frequency information, identification of word patterns in the form of concordances, and the analysis of key words. Qualitative methods addressed will include linguistic ethnographic approaches, discourse analysis, critical discourse analysis, conversation analysis and multimodal approaches. Participants on the course are given the opportunity to reflect on the applicability of these various methods to their own areas of interest in professional communication, which can be further developed for the project-based dissertation.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Tuesday 25 August 2020.

PGDiploma students choose five of the below optional modules. They then exit the course with 120 credits.

MA students will choose four of the below optional modules.

Digital Communication in the Professions

Digital technologies are now central to the ways that most modern day organisations operate, and this influence continues to grow apace. Advancements in digital communicative technologies, particularly since the early 1990s, have enabled organisations of all types and sizes across the globe to communicate and actually ‘do’ business more effectively and efficiently. These technological developments, which range from text messaging and email, to blogging and mobile apps, have brought with them new styles of communication. Given the growing influence of digital technologies, not only in organisations but in society more generally, it is important to understand and indeed critique such technologies and the communicative styles that they produce.This module explores the phenomenon of digital communication in professional contexts. It will introduce the communicative practices that take place over a variety of digital platforms (for example: telephone, email, websites, adverts, social media) across a rich array of professional domains (for example: call centres, online shopping, healthcare and even payday lenders!). We will ask (and answer) questions like: how do people use digital communications to communicate more efficiently at work? How do advertisers use language and image to target their adverts at particular online consumers? How do people create positive personal and professional identities when using social media? And what role do digital technologies play in enabling online anti-social behaviour (i.e. flaming, trolling and cyber-bullying)? In answering these and other questions, this module will also introduce a range of flexible methodological and theoretical approaches that can be used to produce more sophisticated insights into digital communication across a variety of platforms and in more or less any professional environment. This type of close linguistic analysis, guided by these approaches and introduced throughout the module, can equip students with the analytical tools and knowledge to design and carry out their own investigation of professional digital communication. Moreover, this module has a strong focus on how such approaches might be applied in the real world to help modern day organisations to harness the potential (and avoid the some of the pitfalls) of digital technologies in their own communication.

Intercultural Business Communication

This module will explore the use of language in interactions between speakers of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds from three different perspectives: Description, Development, and Assessment. With a growing proportion of interactions in the world today taking place between people of diverse cultural backgrounds, it is important to identify and describe language use which may lead to misunderstanding and communicative breakdown. This module will look at ways in which language barriers might be overcome in such interactions, and at the key factors in this process. We will examine intercultural interactions in a variety of contexts, e.g. business and other professional encounters, the language of the media, the foreign language classroom, etc.

Language, Gender and Professional Communication

The module will examine the relationship between language and gender in professional communication, drawing on key approaches in the areas of discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and pragmatics. Using a variety of linguistic tools, students will analyse language as social practice in a range of spoken, written and computer-mediated contexts and in a variety of areas, such as business, politics, healthcare and the law.The module explores contemporary issues, such as sexism in professional contexts and critically overviews theoretical paradigms on sex differences and gender stereotypes in the professions. Examples of topics to be covered are: Gender in workplace interaction, gender and leadership, intersections between gender, ethnicity and class, gender ideologies in the media, performativity and sexuality and finally misogyny and cyberhate in digital contexts. Students will be encouraged to combine theoretical thinking with hands-on analyses of authentic empirical data, including recent examples from (online) media. We conclude by reflecting on the practical consequences of the discipline in terms of how research can have a political impact on wider society and public policy.

Leadership Communication

The module explores the interrelationship between language and leadership at work, shedding light on how leadership identities become enacted through discourse in a wide range of professional settings. Using a variety of analytic methods and data sources, students will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of different leadership styles and also different communicative means through which leadership is enacted through talk. Particular focus will be placed on topics such as: the delegation of tasks, negotiations and decision-making as well as conflict management and miscommunication. The module draws upon real-life data and explores a number of socially-situated interactions, including face-to-face exchanges and written communication. By relying on such real-life instances of interaction, the module aims to provide students with an opportunity to explore the crucial role played by discourse in determining social and institutional affairs.

The Language of Compliance

This module addresses the issue of compliance in healthcare from a communications perspective. It begins by examining the terminology from a sociological perspective, considering to what extent alternative terms such as adherence and concordance represent a paradigm shift in either policy or practice. The remainder of the module is divided into two sections: macro or structural issues affecting compliance, such as age, gender, cultural background and educational level; and micro level or interactional issues, such as the differences in design and receipt between advice, information or instruction.

Health Care Narratives

This module is intended to familiarise students with theories and applications of narrative in health care contexts. The module will address the following key areas:

i) Narratology: Theories of narrative

ii) Personal narratives of illness

iii) Professional narratives

iv) Organisation and policy narratives

v) Narrative as therapeutic intervention

The module will provide students with an opportunity to examine what narrative is and how this knowledge can be deployed to help understand a variety of phenomena encountered in health care. The module will equip students with a high level knowledge of narrative theory and how much of what takes place in health care exchanges are governed by the kinds of narratives that are used. Students will also develop and practice skills in identifying and analysing narratives of patients, professionals and policy makers. Students will also understand how knowledge of narratives can be used to enhance therapeutic interventions and practices across a range of health care disciplines. Students will appreciate how health care environments, structures and practices are informed by broader, macro-level organisational and governmental narratives.

Health Care Documentation

This module introduces students to the study of health care documentation. The term documentation will be defined widely so as to include: Written and electronic records of client care Case conferences, programme planning and care plans Policy documents at national, local and institutional levels Health promotion and education materials.In relation to each of these topics, students will be encouraged to learn about how previous authors have studied these kinds of documentation and critically evaluate the theories and methods employed. Students will, consistent with ethical considerations, be encouraged to collect their own examples for analysis in learning exercises in the module and make use of the materials available in the Nottingham University Health Language Corpus. Learning activities in the module will include a combination of critical analysis of existing research and the students own analysis of health care documentation materials.

Investigating Health Communication

This module is intended to introduce you to the rapidly expanding field of health communication. The module focuses on two key areas in the field: narratives of healthcare and healthcare documentation. It is designed to equip you with a high level knowledge of narrative and documentation theory and to explore how much of what takes place in healthcare exchanges is governed by the kinds of narratives and documents that are used. The module will provide you with the opportunity to develop and practice skills in identifying and analysing narratives of, and documents relating to, patients, professionals and policy makers. This will help you understand how knowledge of healthcare texts can be used to enhance therapeutic interventions and practices across a range of healthcare disciplines.

All students: You can also choose to substitute one module for another 20-credit module from the range of postgraduate distance-learning options in English Language and Applied Linguistics, subject to appropriate pre-requisites or other requirements. If you are interested in this option, our staff will provide a list of module options and organise this for you when you register for the course. 

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Tuesday 25 August 2020.

You will complete a 60-credit dissertation:

English Distance Learning - Dissertation

Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a 60-credit dissertation. This is a major piece of independent research, and you will be allocated a supervisor who is a specialist in your chosen area.

Your dissertation supervisor will provide advice and guidance to help you select your area of study, and offer close supervision and support as you complete your research.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Tuesday 25 August 2020.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Course materials and teaching are all delivered online over 'Moodle', our virtual learning environment. You will have access to many online resources, including:

  • e-books
  • textbooks
  • articles
  • teaching notes
  • recorded materials
  • links to further reading and resources
  • online communications channels (i.e. Microsoft Teams)

You will also have your own module tutor for each module that you take. They are there to support you with the academic content and your academic development.

This MA is convened by academic staff in the Linguistic Profiling for Professionals unit in the Centre for research in Applied Linguistics, giving you unique access to specialists in professional communication and the latest research in this field.

Teaching methods include:

  • student-tutor communication via email/Skype/Teams
  • student-student communication via Moodle and Teams
  • self-study
  • university-wide online courses and tutorials

How you will be assessed

All taught modules are assessed by written work of around 4,000 words or equivalent. Your course tutors provide detailed comments on assignments.

Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a 60-credit dissertation. This is a major piece of independent research, and you will be allocated a supervisor who is a specialist in your chosen area.

Your dissertation supervisor will provide advice and guidance to help you select your area of study, and offer close supervision and support as you complete your research.

Assessment types include:

  • Written essays
  • Formative assessment (on smaller-scale modules)
  • Modules also contain activities and exercises, with the latter being commented on by tutors

Contact time and study hours

Each credit is worth 10 hours of study. How students distribute and allocate this time is entirely up to them, as study is designed to work around their lifestyle and other commitments.

All teaching materials are available 24/7 via Moodle and the online library.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 (or international equivalent)

Applying

You can apply to start your course on either 21 September 2021 or 1 February 2022.

Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply

Fees

Qualification All
Home / UK To be confirmed in 2020
International To be confirmed in 2020

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

Books

You'll be able to access most of the texts you’ll need through our online library, though you may wish to buy your own copies.

Summer school

Students who choose to attend our annual Summer School event are required to pay for their own transport and accommodation costs.

Funding

Distance learning fees

Distance learning students are charged a standard fee, with no differentiation between UK/EU and international students.

See information on how to fund your masters, including our step-by-step guide.

Student loans and course duration

If you are funded by a student loan, there will be restrictions on your course duration. We recommended that you visit the Student Loans from the Student Loans Company page on the website before you register for the course to make sure you understand the implications of this. We also recommended that you contact your funding body, to check you meet their requirements.

If you are funded through the Student Loans Company (SLC), you must complete the course within two years to be eligible for funding. This includes the taught element and your dissertation. If you do not complete the course within two years, you will be ineligible for funding.

The recommended duration of our Distance Learning programmes is three years. We recognise that the majority of our students are in full-time work and have workloads that fluctuate throughout the year, and we find a three-year duration most suitably accommodates this.

If you register for one of our courses with a student loan, we strongly recommend that you contact your personal advisor as soon as possible to let them know that you need to complete the course in two years. This way we can organise your study plan accordingly.

Please note: it is the student’s responsibility to check they meet the requirements of the loan provider before applying. If you have any questions about the requirements of your loan, please contact your funding provider.

There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

The University also offers masters scholarships for international and EU students. Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about funding postgraduate study.

Postgraduate funding

Careers

We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

Graduate destinations

This course will develop a range of transferable skills, including:

  • the ability to research and process a large amount of information quickly
  • the ability to present your research results in an articulate and effective way across a range of platforms and outputs

Career progression

For postgraduate taught students from the School of English: 

  • 97.4% are in work or study 15 months after graduating
  • 81.6% are in graduate level work or study 15 months after graduating 

Source: University of Nottingham derived figures from HESA's Graduate Outcomes Survey of the Class of 2017/18 (Open Data Release 23rd June 2020)

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" With twenty years of experience in distance learning, the School of English has been at the forefront of delivering effective online education, providing students with the opportunity to study English from a wide range of perspectives and work with experts in the field. Also, since our courses are offered part-time, they provide flexibility to study alongside your work and other commitments. "
Dr Paweł Szudarski, Distance Learning Convenor

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning (2017/18). Our teaching is of the highest quality found in the UK.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national grading system, introduced by the government in England. It assesses the quality of teaching at universities and how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.

This content was last updated on Tuesday 25 August 2020. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.