The course is largely student-led and will involve independent research. Following the initial discussion of key introductory texts in the discursive construction of space and geosemiotics, students will select readings for presentation and discussion in class. Key readings will be provided at the beginning of the course with additional bibliographical references of existing studies of semiotic and linguistc landscapes of Hong Kong. Students will find and select other readings that will be most relevant to their own empirical projects. Towards the end of the first month, students will embark on their own data collection followed by the formulation of their research projects, drawing up research proposals and bibliographies.   




This course aims to consolidate students’ knowledge and critical analytic skills in sociolinguistics and discourse analysis gained during their undergraduate studies to date. It will allow students to enhance their ability to read, synthesize and present academic information, formulate research questions, design and carry out small-scale empirical projects. The projects, to be written individually or in pairs, will be gathered on a dedicated website.




The course will be organized around the readings to be presented and discussed by students. The instructor will moderate the discussion and provide feedback. There will be no lectures. The meetings will take place on Mondays, between 12.30–14.20. Students should budget additional 4–6 hours per week for reading, preparation, data collection and writing.




Course assessment is 100% coursework consisting of oral participation (30%), outline of research proposal and indicative bibliography (20%), and an online research project combining overview of the literature and discussion of illustrative data examples from students’ fieldwork (50%). Class participation will be based on the selection and presentation of appropriate texts, guiding discussion and offering feedback to other students’ on their ongoing projects. Assessment of the written work will be based on the breadth and depth of the overview of the readings, quality of collected data and data analysis. The word limit for the final projects is between 2,000–2,500 words (excluding references).




Apart from the pre-circulated texts chosen by the instructor, each student will choose 2–3 texts for presentation and discussion. A time-table will be created for all students to be able to introduce their texts and lead group discussion. In later weeks, the focus will shift to presentation and discussion of students’ research topics and data examples.


Required readings for the first session on 5 September (to be distributed before the start of the Semester):

Jaworski, Adam and Crispin Thurlow. 2010. Introducing semiotic landscapes. In Adam Jaworski and Crispin Thurlow (eds.) Semiotic Landscapes: Language, Image, Space. London: Continuum. 1–40.

Scollon, Ron and Suzie Wong Scollon. 2003. Discourses in Place: Language in the Material World. London: Routledge. Chapters 1, 8, 9.

Urry, John. 2005. The consumption of place. In Adam Jaworski and Annette Pritchard (eds.) 2005. Discourse, Communication and Tourism. Clevedon: Channel View Publications. 19–27. [Available as ebook via HKU Library]


Indicative readings (all available as electronic resources via the HKU Library)

Curtin, Melissa. 2014. Mapping cosmopolitanisms in Taipei: Toward a theorization of cosmopolitanism in linguistic landscape research. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 228: 153–177.

Hutton, Chris. M. 2011. Vernacular spaces and “non-places”: Dynamics of the Hong Kong linguistic landscape. In M. Messling, D. Läpple and J. Trabant (eds.) Stadt und Urbanität. 162–184.

Jaworski, Adam and Simone Yeung. 2010. Life in the Garden of Eden: The naming and imagery of residential Hong Kong. In Elana Shohamy, Eli Ben-Rafael and Monica Barni (eds.) Linguistic Landscape in the City. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. 153–181.

Mee Ling Lai. 2013. The linguistic landscape of Hong Kong after the change of sovereignty. International Journal of Multilingualism 10/3: 251–272.  

Leeman, Jennifer and Gabriella Modan. 2009. Commodified language in Chinatown: A contextualized approach to linguistic landscape. Journal of Sociolinguistics 3: 332–362.

Lou, Jackie. 2007. Revitalizing Chinatown into a Heterotopia: A Geosemiotic Analysis of Shop Signs in Washington, DC’s Chinatown. Space and Culture 10(2): 145–169.

Shohamy, Elana, Eli Ben-Rafael and Monica Barni (eds.). 2010. Linguistic Landscape in the City. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. 153–181.

Zhang, Hong and Brian Hok-Shing Chan. 2015. Translanguaging in multimodal
Macao posters: Flexible versus separate multilingualism. International Journal of Bilingualism.


Key journals

International Journal of Bilingualism
International Journal of Multilingualism
International Journal of the Sociology of Language
Linguistic Landscape
Journal of Language and Politics
Journal of Sociolinguistics
Social Semiotics
Visual Communication



Last updated: 12 July 2016