CCHU9032 Arts and Humanities
Language, Institution and Power

This course is under the thematic cluster(s) of:

  • Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth (SCCE)
  • Gender, Sexuality, and Diversity (GSD)

Course Description

In this course we will examine the issues of power and how it relates to language use in various institutions such as law, medicine, and business among others. Language presents one of the most important (but not exclusive) power resources. We will learn that language can be both powerful and empowering. We will discuss how people in power can influence the ways in which language is used, and exercise control over access to language by others. We will also examine examples of how these others, in their turn, can contest and negotiate power. In language power can be expressed in a more or less overt ways. To minimize opposition, for example, power is increasingly exercised covertly or indirectly in different institutions. A particular attractive feature of the course is that we will examine real-life language data collected in a number of Hong Kong institutions. We will also discuss similarities and the differences in institutional language practices across different sociocultural contexts including Hong Kong and other countries and Asia and beyond.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Develop a critical awareness of how language can be employed to enact, negotiate and contest power.
  2. Engage in the critical analysis of social issues, such as sexism, racism, oppression through examining the language and power interrelation in authentic institutional discourses.
  3. Apply the knowledge of how language can be both powerful and empowering to novel institutional settings.
  4. Develop a critical understanding of how language and power interact in various sociocultural contexts.
  5. Engage in group interaction and communicate their viewpoint by engaging in group discussions.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 12
Reading / Self-study 60
Assessment: Discussion forum 5
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 20
Total: 121

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Group project 45
Individual presentation 35
Participation in tutorial discussions 20

Required Reading

  • Lazar, M. (2007). Feminist critical discourse analysis: Articulating a feminist discourse praxis. Critical Discourse Studies, 4(2), 141-164. From 
  • Locke, T. (2004). Critical discourse analysis. London: Continuum. [Chap. 3 “The critical turn: Making discourse analysis critical].
  • Mooney, A., & Evans, B. (2015). Language, society, and power: An introduction (4th ed.). London: Routledge. [Chap. 4 “Language and the media”].
  • Simpson, P., Mayr, A., & Statham S. (2019). Language and power: A resource book for students (2nd ed.). London: Routledge. [Chap. A “Introduction: Key topics in the study of language and power”].

There is no official textbook for the course. Additional reading materials will be provided in lectures and tutorial sessions.  

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr O.A. Zayts
School of English, Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 7275
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr D.M. Edmonds
School of English, Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 4486