Thomas Dickins

Thomas Dickins

Coordinator, Area Studies Unit of Assessment

  • Email address
  • Phone number 01902 322460
  • Location MX Building, MX112(b)
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts
  • Institute School of Humanities
  • Areas of expertise

    Linguistics, Russian, Czech

Tom Dickins’s background is in Russian and Czech language and literature. He teaches on a wide range of language-related modules, and specializes in aspects of applied linguistics, especially sociolinguistics. He has written extensively on Czech language variation and change, and regularly gives conference papers in this field.

Tom has considerable administrative and organizational experience. In his current role as Coordinator for the Area Studies Unit of Assessment, he serves on the Faculty of Arts Research Committee, the Faculty of Arts Gender Equality Action Plan Sub-Committee, and the University UoA Coordinators’ Group.

Other major responsibilities have included course leadership (Russian from 2001 to 2004, and Linguistics from 2005 to 2018), and membership of various School and Faculty committees (e.g. Research, Teaching and Learning, Ethics), and Validation and Revalidation Panels (most recently the Deaf Studies Revalidation Panel in March 2017). He has also been both Admissions Tutor and School and College Liaison Coordinator.

He has had ten appointments as external examiner for Czech, Russian and Linguistics at undergraduate, Masters and PhD level, and has acted as PhD internal examiner on four occasions.

Tom is keen to supervise PhD projects in sociolinguistics and discourse analysis, and would welcome enquiries from postgraduate students wishing to pursue research in these areas.

Tom’s main research interests relate to applied Slavonic linguistics: in particular, Czech lexicology, diachronic language change, linguistic purism and loanwords, and language and political discourse.

  • Member of the editorial board of Czech language journal, Studie z aplikované lingvistiky (Studies in Applied Linguistics), published by the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University (Prague).
  • Member of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain. 
  • Member of the British Association of Slavonic and East European Studies.
  • Member of UK Forum for Czech and Slovak Studies.
  • Member of the International Association of Teachers of Czech.
  • Member of the Higher Education Academy.
  • Senior Fellow, HEA, 2016.
  • PhD (by published work): ‘Selected aspects of language contact in the case of Czech, with a particular focus on lexical borrowing and changing attitudes to the self and others’, University of Wolverhampton, 2012.
  • PGCE: Qualified to teach Russian, French and English, (awarded Wortley Year Prize for theory of education), University of Nottingham, School of Education, 1986.
  • MA (by research): ‘Critical responses to Socialist Realism in Czech literature: 1958–1969. A study of selected works by Josef Škvorecký, Bohumil Hrabal and Milan Kundera’, University of Leeds, 1983.
  • BA (Hons): Russian Studies (with 3-year French Subsidiary), University of Leeds, 1981.

Articles, Book Chapters, Monographs etc.

  • ‘The Political Slogan in Communist Czechoslovakia (1948–89)’, Central Europe 15 (1-2), 2017, pp. 58-87.
  • 'Folk-Spectrum Music as an Expression of Alterity in "Normalization" Czechoslovakia (1969–89): Context, Constraints and Characteristics', Slavonic and East European Review, 95 (4), 2017, pp. 648-690.
  • ‘The Linguistic and Rhetorical Legacy of the Prague Spring: Reading the Czechoslovak Communist Party Daily, Rudé právo, from the Late 1980s’, Central Europe, 20 (20), 2016, pp. 1–23.
  • ‘The Impact Factor of the Language of Czechoslovak Normalization: A Study of the Seminal Work, Poučení z krizového vývoje ve straně a společnosti po XIII. sjezdu KSČ’, Slavonic and East European Review, 93 (2), 2015, pp. 213–250.
  • ‘Attitudes to the notion of “foreign”, as reflected in the Czech lexicon since the end of the nineteenth century’, in Montserrat Cots, Pere Gifra-Adroher & Glyn Hambrook (editors), Interrogating Gazes: Comparative Critical Views on the Representation of Foreignness and Otherness (Bern, Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Vienna: Peter Laing, 2013), pp. 101–109.
  • ‘Historical “signposts” and other temporal indicators in the Czech lexicon’, Slavonic and East European Review 90 (4), 2012, pp. 601–41.
  • ‘The Czech-speaking lands, their peoples and contact communities: titles, names and ethnonyms’, Slavonic and East European Review 89 (3), 2011, pp. 401–454.
  • Attitudes to lexical borrowing in the Czech Republic (Liberec: Nakladatelství Bor, 2009).
  • ‘Češi a slovenština’, Naše společnost 7 (1), 2009, pp. 12–26.
  • ‘Postoje k výpůjčkám v soudobé češtině’, Naše společnost 6 (1), 2008, pp. 14–28.
  • ‘The legacy and limitations of Czech purism’, Slavonica 13 (2), 2007, pp. 113–33.
  • ‘Russian and Soviet loanwords and calques in the Czech lexicon since the beginning of the twentieth century’, Slavonic and East European Review 84 (4), 2006, pp. 593–638.
  • ‘Representations of Russian and Soviet society in standard Czech reference dictionaries’, Central Europe 2 (2), 2004, pp. 133–59.
  • ‘Gender differentiation and the asymmetrical use of animate nouns in contemporary Czech’, Slavonic and East European Review 79 (2), 2001, pp. 212–47.
  • ‘Changing ideologies in Slovník jazyka českého (1937–52)’, Slavonica 7 (1), 2000, pp. 24–74.
  • ‘Reflections of ideology in Slovník jazyka českého (1946-52)’, in Robert Pynsent (editor), The Phoney Peace: Central European Politics and Culture, 1945–1949 (London: London University Press, 2000), pp. 359–84.
  • ‘Prepositional vocalization in contemporary Czech’, Slavonic and East European Review 76 (2), 1998, pp. 201–33.
  • ‘Linguistic varieties in Czech: problems of the spoken language’, Slavonica 1 (2), 1995, pp. 20 46. Reprinted (with amendments): Ročenka Kruhu moderních filologů 21, 1997, pp. 58–87.

Teaching and Learning Materials

  • S azov (Russian from Scratch), University of Wolverhampton, 2004: 536 pp. (with Irina Moore). (Online version available at
  • Spoken Czech: Situational Dialogues for Intermediate Level Students (13 scenes on video with accompanying textbook, including an introductory chapter: ‘Notes on the development of the literary language and on different linguistic registers in Czech’), University of Wolverhampton, 1993.

Book Reviews

  • Lee Bidgood, Czech Bluegrass: Notes from the Heart of Europe (Urbana, Chicago and Springfield, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2017), Slavonic and East European Review (2018, forthcoming).
  • Pat Lyons and Rita Kindlerová (eds.), Contemporary Czech Society (Prague: The Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, 2016), Slavonic and East European Review, 96 (2), 2018. 
  • Tomasz Kamusella, The Politics of Language and Nationalism in Modern Central Europe (Basingstoke, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), in Slavonic and East European Review 91 (4), 2013.
  • James Wilson, Moravians in Prague. A Sociolinguistic Study of Dialect Contact in the Czech Republic (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2010), in Slavonic and East European Review 89 (3), 2011.
  • Lubomír Štrougal, Paměti a úvahy [Memoirs and Reflections] (Prague: Epocha, 2009) in Slavonic and East European Review 89 (2), 2011.
  • Jenny Carl & Patrick Stevenson (eds), Language, Discourse and Identity in Central Europe. The German Language in a Multilingual Space (Houndsmill, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), in Slovo a slovesnost 71 (2), 2011 (with Eric Dickins).
  • Tora Hedin, Changing Identities: Language Variation on Czech Television (Stockholm: Stockholm University Press, 2005), in Slavonic and East European Review 85 (4), 2007.
  • James Naughton, Colloquial Czech, in Irish Slavonic Studies 1, 2000.
  • Kevin Hannan, Borders of Language and Identity in Teschen Silesia, in Czech Language News 9, 1997.
  • Robert B. Pynsent, Questions of Identity: Czech and Slovak Ideas of Nationality and Personality, in Irish Slavonic Studies 1, 1996.
  • František Čermák, Jan Holub, Jiří Hronek, Milan Šára & David Short, A multi-level course for advanced Czech learners (2 Vols), in The Slavonic and East European Review 76 (2), 1995.
  • Milena Kelly, Czech for You, in Czech Language News 2, 1994.

Recent external conference papers

  • 5 July 2018 University of Birmingham, Centre for Modern and Contemporary History & BRIHC. School of History and Cultures, Symposium on Small Nations and Global Identities: Czech Questions: ‘The influence of the past, as reflected in the slogans and counter slogans of the early socialist era’.
  • 11 May 2018 University of Cardiff, Czechoslovakia100/BASEES Study Day: ‘Socialist- era counter slogans’.
  • 8 June 2016 Birmingham University, Barber Institute of Fine Art, Central European Art and Culture: Work in Progress Seminar, ‘Folk-spectrum music in normalization-era Czechoslovakia’.
  • 21 October 2015 University of Huddersfield, Invited paper: ‘Folk-spectrum music an expression of escapism in normalization Czechoslovakia (1969 to 1989)’.
  • 6 April 2014 University of Cambridge, BASEES Annual Conference: ‘A case study of the language of Czechoslovak normalization’.
  • 4 October 2013 Embassy of the Czech Republic (London), Current Trends in Czech Studies IV: “Not Such a Faraway Country?”: ‘The language of the Czechoslovak normalization’.
  • Interpreter/translator and/or language consultant for a range of private and public sector organizations (e.g. Bradford Youth Theatre, Wolverhampton Youth Theatre, West Midlands Police, Banks’s Brewery).
  • School and College Liaison Coordinator.
  • Contributor to career workshops and language talks (e.g. Solihull Sixth Form College, Wellington College, Shrewsbury College, Walsall Academy).
  • Facilitator of externally funded projects with the Czech Agricultural University, Prague; the Public Opinion Research Centre (CVVM) of the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Charles University, Prague; and the Czech Language Department, Pedagogical Faculty, Charles University.

External Examining

  • 2013 – 2017 Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies, University of Sheffield, BA (Hons) and MA degree examinations in Russian Studies (Czech).
  • 2004 – 2009 Department of Languages, Coventry Business School, University of Coventry, BA (Hons) degree examinations in Russian.
  • 2004 – 2008 Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies, University of Sheffield, BA (Hons) and MA degree examinations in Russian Studies (Czech).
  • 1988 – 2003 The Centre for Modern Languages, University of Birmingham, B.Eng., M.Eng. (etc.) degree examinations (Russian).
  • 1998 – 2003 CREES, University of Birmingham, BA (Hons) and MA degree examinations in Russian.
  • 1998 – 2003 University of Durham, BA (Hons) and MA degree examinations in Czech.
  • 1996 – 1999 University of Leeds, BA (Hons) degree examinations in Russian (Czech).
  • 1995 – 1997 European Business School (Russian language, level 200).
  • 1995 – 1996 University of Birmingham, BA (Hons) degree examinations in Russian (Czech).

PhD Examining

  • External examiner for Fadhel Shalal, 24 May 2018: School of Languages & Cultures, University of Sheffield.
  • Internal examiner for Yvonne Skalban, 2 December 2013.
  • Internal examiner for Miranda Chong, 11 July 2013.
  • Internal examiner for Jaroslav Kyncl, 11 February 2008.
  • Internal examiner for Laura Hasler, 7 June 2007.

PhD Supervision


Co-supervisor: Sara Almugharbil, ‘Producing the Translators of Tomorrow: Designing a Student-centred and Competence Based Translation Curriculum for Saudi Universities’.



  • Language in Use (Level 4).
  • Language and Society (Level 5).
  • Research Methods for English Language, Linguistics and TESOL (Level 5).
  • Language Variation and Change (Level 6).
  • Analysing Talk and Text (Level 7).
  • Russian Language (Basic and Elementary).