English - Elective 3, topic 1: Language, Politics, and Discourse

Course content

It is generally recognized that language has a significant role in politics. Negative implications of this have been the most striking: concepts like spin, newspeak and manipulation abound in discussions about political communication. This puts an obligation on language specialists to use their analytic abilities also in ways that can promote transparency in political discussions and throw light on how language actually works in a political context. This task comes under the broad heading of ‘discourse analysis’. One type of discourse analysis, known as ‘Critical Discourse Analysis’ is a continuation of a critical tradition that started in the sixties and seventies, where the aim is to focus attention on ideology and on the way power is used and especially abused. While this course will also have a critical orientation, it stresses the need to understand political language as communication and see it in relation to the pressures that the political process is working under (including pressures due to the facts on the ground). Basic principles of rhetorical analysis will also be introduced. As a label for the analytic method described above, the approach may be called ‘functional-pragmatic discourse analysis’: ‘Functional’ indicates that the analysis seeks to throw light on the job that the texts are assumed to do; ‘pragmatic’ indicates that the analysis refers to key aspects of the context in which the texts belong. As part of this programme, the course also takes up the principles and practices of democratic politics: an awareness of the way the world works in the domain of investigation is a prerequisite for understanding how language functions in that context. On the basis of central concepts, analytical practices and positions the course aims to stimulate an analytic practice that reflects an awareness of the grounds on which one may legitimately be critical both of politicians and of their critics (including the ‘commentariat’), when analysing language used in a political context.




  • Peter & Kim E. Jensen (2019). Language, Politics and Discourse. Copenhagen: PubliKom (compendium)
  • Paltridge, Brian (2012). Discourse Analysis: An Introduction (2nd ed.). London:
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assessment

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 162,75
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • English
  • 204,75