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The Language of Social Media


Admission requirements

A relevant BA degree and basic knowledge of linguistics.


It is hard to believe that fifteen years ago social media were no more than a budding trend. Today, however, sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YoutTube have a striking impact on how we relate to each other, what activities we engage in, the communities we live in and the way we present ourselves. The amount of interactions on social media provides researchers with a wealth of material often freely available for linguistic analysis. The challenge lies in narrowing down the research questions and carrying out the analysis.

The aim of The Language of Social Media is to introduce its participants to the ways of exploring social media and to equip them with both theoretical frameworks and tools for answering research questions relating to digital communication. Each week we will focus on a specific topic within the realm of internet linguistics and attempt to tackle questions such as: How do we manage and present ourselves through the interaction with others? How are communities formed in social media? In what creative ways do people adapt and innovate in their online communication with each other? Why and how do people engage in trolling, i.e. antagonistic behaviour online? What effect do social media have on the language we use?

Seeing that most if not all of the course participants will have experience in using social media, their viewpoints, ideas and experiences are crucial to the class discussions as well as their final project. They will moreover be expected to engage in discussions on digital platforms – through tweets and blog posts – on the topics addressed in class.

Course objectives

The aim of the course is to provide students with the introduction to the topics, methods and frameworks that will enable them to design and carry out a project about language and social media.

After completion of the course, the students will:

  • Have a good grasp of the linguistic characteristics of social media.

  • Understand the major theoretical approaches as well as the principles that underpin research design in the field.

  • Be able to articulate a research question about the language of social media and conduct original research on that question.

  • Have developed good working skills with a variety of digital tools for communication, collaboration and analysis.


The timetable is available on the MA English website

Mode of instruction

A 90-minute weekly seminar.

Course Load

The total course load is 280 hours (10 EC), allocated as follows:

  • Seminar attendance: 26 hours.

  • Study of literature: 84 hours.

  • Preparation of assignments: 40 hours.
    Presentation preparation: 20 hours.
    Writing an abstract: 10 hours.
    Writing the final paper (including reading and research): 100 hours.

Assessment method

  • A presentation (including peer feedback): 20%

  • An abstract (incluiding peer feedback): 10%

  • Weekly assignments (including posts on social media): 20%

  • A final paper: 50%


This course is supported by Blackboard, which will be used for discussions, distributing materials and submitting assignments.

Reading list

Journal articles and book chapters will be provided via Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in [English]) and Dutch

Students other than MA Linguistics need permission from the coordinator of studies before enrolling.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte

Registration (Contractonderwijs](

Not applicable


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof for questions.