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ET319: Professional Communication


How is language used to negotiate professional identity? What is the crucial role of communication in teamwork and leadership? How do we manage our interactional goals - face-to-face or online, one-to-one or in groups? In this module you’ll explore different genres of professional communication in sectors such as sport, health, and politics as well as in core business/industry settings. You’ll apply theories and concepts that can illuminate how people relate to their colleagues and clients, maintain rapport and handle conflict in various contexts such as meetings, interviews and emails. The module provides critical interdisciplinary insights to promote a deeper appreciation of the way language is used at work and applies contemporary analytical approaches (e.g. to gender and leadership) to understand the complex nature of professional communication and enhance your employability as a global graduate.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Understand the crucial role of discourse and communication in professional contexts.
  • Be familiar with communication issues emerging from differences in workplace culture.
  • Demonstrate understanding and knowledge of the various aspects of professional discourse/ communication introduced in the course.
  • Understand key challenges relating to professional communication faced by graduates in entering the global workplace.

Learning Experience


Core content will be presented during weekly 2-hour lectures.


We will meet in a weekly 1-hour small-group seminar to practice and apply course concepts.



3000-word written research report (70%)


15-minute individual research presentation (30%)

Preparatory Reading

  • Schnurr, S. (2013). Exploring professional communication: Language in action. London: Routledge.

Exemplary student projects

  • An analysis of a female coach’s talk to volleyball men’s and women’s teams during matches
  • ‘I don’t answer questions, I ask questions’: how Judge Judy constructs her identity as a reality TV judge
  • Conflict avoidance, face threats and equivocation in politicians' media interviews
  • The year of two winners: How do Sarah and James index their identities as leaders in The Apprentice 2017?
  • Negotiating rapport and identity in a tennis club committee email thread
  • 'If you could be any car in the world, what car would you be and why?' The co-construction of professional identity in curveball job interview questions
  • 'Lost at Sea': Leadership and gender in assessment centre teamwork activities
  • Collaborative stance-taking and conflict in all-female panel shows: The case of Loose Women
  • Constructing professional expertise in online health discussion forums