Skip to main content Skip to navigation

ET325-15 Communication Modes

Applied Linguistics
Undergraduate Level 3
Module leader
Jo Angouri
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
50% coursework, 50% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

Our ability to communicate is a multimodal achievement. Our sounds, our gestures and facial expressions and the words and grammar we use can all simultaneously contribute meaning to our messages and the interpretation of others’ messages. In addition, new multimodal forms such as emoji, images, fonts and so forth have developed through technological advances. In this module we look at how these different modes contribute meaning in our communicative endeavours. While we will explore these different modes separately, the module will also bring them together so as to develop an appreciation of the complexity involved in the achievement of communication.

Module web page

Module aims

This module aims to enable students to synthesise knowledge acquired from year one and year two modules on how communication works. Students will develop the ability to analyse and reflect critically on a range of semiotic modes mobilised in making/interpreting meaning in different contexts.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

An indicative syllabus for this module will include the following (or similar) subsections that illustrate how communication is achieved, understood and analysed.

  • Preliminaries and an outline of the course: Broadening the meaning making horizon: different systems of signs and symbols and the communication of meaning.
  • Meaning and sound (aural)
    information structure and intonation as a meaning-making resource.
  • Meaning and image (visual)
    semiotic systems that create meaning in images.
  • Meaning and gesture (visual)
    semiotic potential of gesture and body language systems.
  • Bringing it all together
    re-integrating our modes: Accounting for communication as a multimodal achievement.
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to Identify how a range of semiotic modes contribute to our overall ability to communicate and make/interpret meaning; Discuss the specific impact of particular semiotic modes in the process of communicating and interpreting meaning in a range of social, intercultural and professional contexts; Understand how analytical techniques are currently being used to explore the communicative potential of different semiotic modes; Design and carry out an independent small scale analysis of an authentic piece of communication in action.
Indicative reading list

Amaghlobeli, N. (2012). Linguistic features of typographic emoticons in SMS discourse. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 2(2), 348.
Bateman, J. A. (2008). Multimodality and genre: a foundation for the systematic analysis of multimodal documents. Basingstoke [England] ; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Bateman, J. A. (2014). Text and image: a critical introduction to the visual/verbal divide. New York: Routledge.
Böck, M., Pachler, N., & Kress, G. R. (Eds.). (2013). Multimodality and Social Semiosis: Communication, Meaning-Making and Learning in the Work of Gunther Kress. New York: Routledge.
Garrison, A., Remley, D., Thomas, P., & Wierszewski, E. (2011). Conventional faces: Emoticons in instant messaging discourse. Computers and Composition, 28(2), 112–125.
Jewitt, C. (Ed.). (2014). The Routledge handbook of multimodal analysis (Second Edition). Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Jones, R. H. (2012). Discourse analysis: a resource book for students. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge.
Moya Guijarro, J., & Pinar Sanz, M. J. (2008). Compositional, interpersonal and representational meanings in a children’s narrative: A multimodal discourse analysis. Journal of Pragmatics, 40(9), 1601–1619.
O’Halloran, K. L., & Smith, B. A. (Eds.). (2011). Multimodal studies: exploring issues and domains. New York: Routledge.

Research element

Students engage deeply with empirical research articles and conduct their own critical analyses of multimodal texts.


This module draws on a number of fields in the exploration of communication modes including linguistics, communication studies, film & television studies, advertising & marketing, semiotics and intercultural communication.


This module deals with culturally specific systems of meaning and explores examples from multiple national, cultural, and linguistic contexts. Universal versus particularising communication trends through new technologies are explicitly discussed both theoretically as well as though a number of examples. The module also promotes active learning and intercultural reflection amongst a highly international cohort of students.

Subject specific skills
  • Understand and explain key concepts, models and research findings for explaining relationships between meaning and sign;
  • Demonstrate responsiveness to the central role of language in the creation of meaning.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of key theoretical frameworks often used to account for meaning making;
  • Use appropriate quantitative and qualitative analytic methods to analyse data;
  • Demonstrate responsiveness to the central role of language in the creation of meaning and a sensitivity to the affective power of language.
Transferable skills
  • Work effectively with others in group tasks;
  • Plan and manage time in projects;
  • Find, evaluate and use previous research at a level appropriate for a final year module;
  • Use a range of tools and resources effectively in the preparation of course work.
  • Critically discuss the relationship between language, culture, image and meaning ;
  • Critically reflect on meaning making in different professional and everyday contexts

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 9 sessions of 2 hours (12%)
Seminars 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Other activity 4 hours (3%)
Private study 119 hours (79%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Reading subject materials, homework tasks, assignments and revision

Other activity description

Revision sessions


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group C2
Weighting Study time
Research Assignment (2000 words) 50%
Online Examination 50%

~Platforms - AEP

  • Online examination: No Answerbook required
Feedback on assessment

Written feedback on the assignment will be provided on the Centre's standard feedback sheets, which conform to Faculty regulations. This will include both summary and detailed feedback. Where appropriate, additional feedback may be provided via personal meetings with the tutor.

Past exam papers for ET325


This module is Core for:

  • Year 3 of UETA-X3Q5 Undergraduate Language, Culture and Communication
  • Year 4 of UETA-X3Q8 Undergraduate Language, Culture and Communication (with Intercalated Year)
  • Year 3 of UETA-Q1T6 Undergraduate Linguistics with Arabic
  • Year 3 of UETA-Q1R1 Undergraduate Linguistics with French
  • Year 3 of UETA-Q1A1 Undergraduate Linguistics with French (with Intercalated Year)
  • Year 4 of UETA-Q1A2 Undergraduate Linguistics with German (with Intercalated Year)
  • Year 3 of UETA-Q1T2 Undergraduate Linguistics with Japanese
  • Year 3 of UETA-Q1A8 Undergraduate Linguistics with Japanese (with Intercalated Year)
  • Year 3 of UETA-Q1R5 Undergraduate Linguistics with Portuguese
  • Year 3 of UETA-Q1R4 Undergraduate Linguistics with Spanish
  • UETA-Q1A4 Undergraduate Linguistics with Spanish (with Intercalated Year)
    • Year 3 of Q1A4 Linguistics with Spanish (with Intercalated Year)
    • Year 4 of Q1A4 Linguistics with Spanish (with Intercalated Year)
  • Year 4 of ULNA-R9Q1 Undergraduate Modern Languages and Linguistics

This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 3 of ULNA-R9QB Undergraduate Modern Languages with Linguistics (3 year)

This module is Optional for:

  • Year 3 of UETA-Q310 in English Language and Linguistics
  • Year 4 of UETA-Q311 in English Language and Linguistics (with Intercalated year)

This module is Core option list A for:

  • Year 4 of ULNA-R2Q2 Undergraduate German Studies with Linguistics
  • Year 4 of ULNA-R9Q2 Undergraduate Modern Languages with Linguistics

This module is Core option list C for:

  • Year 4 of ULNA-R1Q2 Undergraduate French Studies with Linguistics

This module is Option list D for:

  • Year 3 of UPSA-C802 Undergraduate Psychology with Linguistics