Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024

Module SPAN3291: Transnationalism and Linguistic Contact in the Hispanic World

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Spanish)

SPAN3291: Transnationalism and Linguistic Contact in the Hispanic World

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap 30 Location Durham


  • Spanish Language 2A (SPAN2011) OR Spanish Language 2B (SPAN2111) OR an equivalent qualification to the satisfaction of the Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern European Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes: Spanish Language 4 (SPAN3011). Other: see Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules


  • To introduce students to the study of language contact as one of the outcomes of a transnational and globalized world. The course will deal with the need for understanding the communication across diverse cultures and will introduce the political, social, educational and linguistic factors that trigger contact and change.
  • The course will introduce transnationalism as a methodology used to understand linguistic phenomena like bilingualism, code-switching and lexical borrowing, interference and second language acquisition, pidgins and creoles formation.


  • The phenomenon of transnationalism (though migration, slavery and conquest) in an increasingly global world and how this has led to language contact being part of everyday life, with a special emphasis on the Hispanic World.
  • This module will look at contact situations within the Hispanic world and will analyse emerging issues of identity and heritage. In particular, two related consequences of contact will be studied: the development of new linguistic forms on the one hand and the processes of acculturation, assimilation, and amalgamation on the other.
  • The module will offer an insight into the mechanisms that induce biculturalism and bilingualism drawing on findings from Spanish in contact with English, Italian, Portuguese and Welsh, will show that the transfer of linguistic and cultural material across languages is quite regular and follows universal patterns.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An understanding of the inadequacy of the ‘one-nation, one-language’ ideology and of the nature of linguistic and cultural changes.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • A grasp of the principles of comparative linguistics and of the contribution of historical linguistics.
  • An understanding of basic issues in contact linguistics and how to apply them to other linguistic examples from students’ own experience as language learners.
  • An awareness of lexical borrowing in English and of different kinds of mutilingualism both on a society and individual level.
  • Knowledge of new linguistic terminology.
Key Skills:
  • Carrying out independent research taking as a starting point the classes and the reading list provided.
  • Researching printed and electronic resources.
  • Participating in discussions and team work.
  • Developing and using analytical skills to solve problems

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Weekly lectures will deliver key information about the module
  • Fortnightly seminars with smaller groups will allow for individual presentations and active discussions

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 Hour 20
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 Hour 10
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay (in English) 2,000 words 100% No
Component: Research Project Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Project 3,000 words 100% No

Formative Assessment:


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University