Module Catalogue 2018/19

SEL1007 : The Nature of Language (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2018/19
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Joel Wallenberg
  • Lecturer: Dr Geoffrey Poole, Dr Rachael Bailes
  • 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. Acquisition and Evidence
5. Writing a Language/Linguistics Essay
6. Language Change
7. Language and Populations (Creoles and Viruses)
8. Sociolinguistics, Variation and Memory
9. Animal Communication
10. Meaning and Communication
11. What it's all for: language in broader scientific perspective

Seminars will involve group discussion of issues raised in lectures, and there will be occasional additional sessions with the whole class to catch up on questions raised in the seminars and standard 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
5. Increase students' courage regarding putting forward their own ideas and testing them

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
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:3016:30N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion83:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops31:003:00These will field questions on lectures, promote group discussion, & occasionally expand on lectures.
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity115:0055:00N/A
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 assignments are intended to teach scientific writing, progressively working up to longer and more complex pieces of writing throughout the semester.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M30500 words. To learn how to structure a linguistics essay.
Written exercise1M10Short example of hypothesis-formulation and hypothesis-testing.
Essay1A602000 words. Final essay assessed both for structure and content.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written exercise motivate students to think in terms of the scientific method, i.e. forming a hypothesis and designing and experiment to test it. The two essays teach how longer scientific essays are structured, and encourage students to creatively engage with the module material. Assessment by essay allows to students to develop formal argumentation and presentation skills relative to the topics covered in the module.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2018/19 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 2018/19 entry will be published here in early-April 2018. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.