Module Catalogue 2016/17

SEL1007 : The Nature of Language

  • Offered for Year: 2016/17
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Danielle Turton
  • Demonstrator: Ms Rachael Bailes, Miss Vanessa McIntosh, Miss Xiangjie Cao
  • Lecturer: Dr Geoffrey Poole
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



1. Investigate the nature of language
2. Come to an understanding of the various areas within the field of linguistics
3. Learn how the study of linguistics relates to other sciences, particularly neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and computation

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics will be drawn from the following:
1. How to think about language scientifically
2. Computation, mind, and language
3. Thinking about Language : Chomsky
4. Language Acquisition
5. Writing a Language/Linguistics Essay
6. Meaning and Communication
7. Language Change
8. Language and Society
9. Humans, animals, and language
10. Language and Populations (Creoles and Viruses)
11. What it's all for: language in broader scientific perspective

Seminars will involve group discussion of issues raised in lectures.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

1. Arrive at an understanding of the fundamental ideas in linguistics
2. Understand the interaction of different areas within the field
3. Understand some basic scientific concepts and scientific method
4. Understand basic scientific writing.

Intended Skill Outcomes

1. Ability to think critically about language
2. Enhance ability to study language and linguistic issues
3. Ability to write a properly structured scientific essay
4. Ability to evaluate hypotheses and understand examples of hypothesis-testing in the literature

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Assessed
    • Numeracy : Present
    • Literacy : Assessed
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Present
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Assessed
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Present
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Innovation And Creativity : Present
      • Initiative : Present
      • Independence : Present
      • Problem Solving : Present
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
  • Application
    • Commercial Acumen
      • Market Awareness : Present
    • Social Cultural Global Awareness : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion93:0027:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity115:0055:00Revision for exam
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

1. Lectures introduce students to knowledge outcomes.
2. Seminars develop these skills of analysis in greater depth.
3. Private study is an important part of the programme, requiring close reading of the materials both in advance of lectures and as a follow up to them.
4. Students will be an assignment intended to probe and expand the students' understanding of the concepts covered in lectures.
5. The written assignment is intended to teach scientific writing, progressively working up to longer and more complex pieces of writing throughout the semester.
6. The exam is to test students' knowledge of the module overall.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601A70Multiple choice exam to test knowledge.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M30To learn how to structure a linguistics essay and formulate hypotheses.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written exercise motivates students to think in terms of the scientific method, i.e. forming a hypothesis and designing and an experiment to test it, encouraging students to creatively engage with the module material. Assessment by exam tests the knowledge acquired over the course of the module.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2016/17 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2017/18 entry will be published here in early-April 2017. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.