Module Catalogue 2024/25

SPE8151 : MSc Phonetics I

SPE8151 : MSc Phonetics I

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Cong Zhang
  • Lecturer: Professor Ghada Khattab
  • Owning School: Education, Communication & Language Sci
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 5
Semester 2 Credit Value: 5
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



This module aims to provide students with an introduction to the study of phonetics. It is devoted to learning about the human vocal mechanism, the sounds it can produce, and they form the phonological systems of various languages. The module then investigates varieties within English and how different groups of speakers use sounds differently, in different social contexts. A central aim is to look at how phonetics plays an important role when assessing, treating people with communication difficulties. The online resources offered to students during the module ensure that they can refer to them throughout the programme, beyond in order to keep transcription skills up-to-date

1. to introduce the basic principles of sound production and perception;
2. to give practice in categorising, producing, and transcribing all the sounds of the world’s languages in isolation and connected speech, in typical and disordered speech;
3. to introduce the sound system of English and the main phonotactic and phonological rules;
4. to raise awareness of sociolinguistic variation in English and examine differences across accents, to enable them to be transcribed using narrow phonetic transcription.

In relation to HCPC Standards of Proficiency, this module addresses aspects of the following standards (in some cases when combined with other modules):
7.3 understand the characteristics and consequences of verbal and non-verbal communication and recognise how these can be affected by difference of any kind, including, but not limited to, protected characteristics, intersectional experiences and cultural differences
12.1 understand the structure and function of the human body, together with knowledge of physical and mental health, disease, impairment and dysfunction relevant to their profession
12.7 understand linguistics and phonetics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics and all levels of typical processing and the differences for individuals whose home language is not English
12.10 understand sociology in relation to the practice of speech and language therapy, including its application to educational, health and workplace settings and within multi-cultural contexts
13.13 administer, record, score and interpret a range of published and self generated assessment tools to describe and analyse service users’ abilities and needs using, where appropriate, phonetic transcription, linguistic analysis, instrumental analysis and psycholinguistic assessment
13.14 apply knowledge of communication impairment, linguistics, phonetics, psychology and biomedical sciences to the identification, assessment and differential diagnosis of a range of communication and swallowing impairments

Outline Of Syllabus

Most of the first semester is devoted to learning about the human vocal mechanism, the sounds it can produce, & how those sounds can be classified. In tutorials you will learn to distinguish & produce most the sounds of the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), using examples from a wide range of languages, & many accents of English.

Semester 1:

- Introduction to phonetics. Speech and writing; The IPA and transcription
- Consonants: place of articulation
- Consonants: manner of articulation
- Consonants: complex articulations
- Phonation, aspiration and VOT
- Initiation: airstream mechanisms, non-pulmonic consonants
- Cardinal vowels and vowel quadrilateral
- Connected speech processes
- Sound system of English
- Sociophonetics I: main differences between accents of English
- Sociophonetics II: regional accents transcription

Semester 2 work builds on the articulatory foundations of Semester 1, focusing on how speech sounds are used in fluent speech, & how different groups of speakers use sounds differently.

Semester 2:

- Phonology I: Minimal pairs, features, phonological system in SLT
- Phonology II: Syllables, phonotactics, morphophonology
- Prosody and Intonation I: Stress and Tone/Intonation
- Prosody and Intonation II: Rhythm, speech rate, vocal settings
- Phonological assessment of disordered speech
- Phonological cases I
- Phonological cases II
- Phonological cases III
- Ear training on consonants
- Ear training on vowels
- Ear training on non-pulmonic consonants

In relation to the RCSLT curriculum guidance, the module covers aspects related to phonetics and linguistics (4.4.1) including phonetics and clinical application, general linguistics and clinical applications (phonology) and sociolinguistics.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

- Understand the principal processes underlying the production of speech sounds (not exclusively those of English)
- Define key technical terms in phonetics and phonology
- Identify and describe the conventions established for classifying and transcribing speech sounds
- Identify the factors which govern variability in speech production (contextual, inter-/intra-speaker, connected speech processes)
- Analyse spoken utterances by providing a detailed account of the laryngeal and supralaryngeal articulations involved and by taking variability into account
- Carry out a quantitative analysis of certain aspects of ongoing phonological variation in a short corpus of spoken English
- Compare phonetic and phonological analyses of speech and discuss the ways in which a phonetic analysis can inform a phonological account
- Discuss the implications of both types of analysis for assessment of disordered speech

Intended Skill Outcomes

- Develop a basic ability to listen objectively to speech and to transcribe speech sounds accurately using the IPA transcription conventions
- Develop a basic ability to distinguish and produce a wide variety of IPA sounds including those relevant for varieties of English
- Identify aspects of variability that are relevant for different varieties of English
- Design material for data elicitation
- Record, observe, and analyse natural and lab speech
- Write a concise report involving the presentation of quantitative data
- Work with a team on a project involving analysis of linguistic data and subsequent reporting of results

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Preparation for quizzes in Semester 1 and Group Project and Dictation in semester 2.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture151:0015:0011 lectures in Semester 1 and 4 lectures in Semester 2.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical141:0014:009 IPA ear training and transcription practice sessions in Semester 1 and 5 in Semester 2.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops42:008:004 sessions on phonological analysis of children's speech.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce and define key concepts in phonetics and phonology. Students are encouraged to engage in the construction of knowledge during the lecture in form of teamwork tasks and discussions. The sessions facilitate self-directed learning by raising awareness of additional self-study material (provided on Canvas) and relevant literature.

Practicals are designed to put the acquired knowledge into practice. Students gain a better understanding of the variability within non-pathological sound productions by collaborating with different instructors. The principal aim of the sessions is maximal student engagement. Transcription and production skills are trained to improve the students’ command of the IPA.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Digital Examination301A40Canvas Quiz - A quiz to test the learning outcomes for Semester 1.
Digital Examination302A60Dictation exam on Inspera.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MIn-class presentation on Sociolinguistics
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Test 1 assesses the knowledge and key principles of phonetic analysis.
Test 2 assesses the knowledge and key principles of phonetic analysis, and students' abilities to transcribe isolated and running speech accurately using the IPA conventions.

The formative oral presentation requires students to exercise objective listening skills, and to explore their understanding of the factors that govern variability in speech.

As all the assessments in this module assess key skills that are required for the theoretical and applied aspects of the course, all components of this module must be passed and no compensation is available.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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