Module Catalogue 2023/24

SEL2229 : Experimental Methods in Linguistics

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Christine Cuskley
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
SEL1027Introduction to the Structure of Language 1: Syntax and Phonology
SEL1032Language Variation and Change: Dealing with Data
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This course provides a broad overview of the foundational issues with respect to experimental methodology in linguistics. Lectures will cover theoretical and philosophical considerations, methodological approaches and issues, and tools used in data collection. By the end of the course, students will be able to critically evaluate experimental research in linguistics, from both theoretical and methodological points of view. Alongside this, students will learn the basic skills necessary for carrying out their own experimental research project, including experimental design, data wrangling, and statistical analysis.

Outline Of Syllabus

The course will focus on general philosophical, methodological, practical, and ethical issues that arise in the course of research in linguistics. Topics will include: science communication, the scientific method, computational approaches to language and linguistic research, null hypothesis testing, tools for collecting experimental data (online and in-lab), and basic data wrangling and statistics. The course will also introduce students to specific methods and tools allowing them to undertake survey-based or experimental research, and independently design their own experimental methods.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

• Gain an in-depth understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of modern linguistic research
• Gain an in-depth understanding of the experimental method in cognitive science specifically as it applies to language and linguistics, including issues of measurement, reliability, validity, experimental controls, and ethical considerations
• Understand the breadth of experimental methodologies applied to linguistic research, and the basic null hypothesis testing approach underlying them
• Recognise the constraints of experimental approaches, and understand how the experimental method complements other empirical approaches to linguistic research

Intended Skill Outcomes

• Be able to critique experimental methods used in linguistics research, with an eye to suggesting concrete solutions to gaps in any methodology
• Be able to design and present sound experimental methodology, including theoretical justification, with detail sufficient for replication
• Gain familiarity with approaches to data wrangling, visualisation, and statistical analysis, sufficient to move on to more advanced practical work in linguistics and/or data science

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion421:0042:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading701:0070:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study551:0055:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures present the module content.

Small group teaching will focus on practical tools, skills, and software used in data collection, analysis, and presentation.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M401000 word mock peer review
Essay2A602000 word novel experimental design
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Research proposal2MExperimental design proposal
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The mid semester essay enables students to engage in structured critique of the primary literature, preparing them to identify and design around specific shortcomings of current experimental approaches in the literature, and demonstrate their engagement with the concepts presented during the course of the module.

The end-of-semester assessment consists of a methods proposal on which they will receive formative feedback prior to designing their own novel experimental methods. This will feed into the final essay which assesses the student's practical understanding of the general issues and ability to apply them creatively to their own novel experimental design.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023/24 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 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.