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SPE8155 : MSc Linguistics

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Nick Riches
  • Lecturer: Dr Fiona Menger, Dr Janet Webster
  • Owning School: Education, Communication & Language Sci
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


(1) The LINGUISTICS component teaches students (a) how to analyse language structure (syntax), (b) how meaning is expressed through language (semantics), and (c) how meaning is mapped onto structure. The syntax component of the course is based on descriptive model of adult English Grammar (the Cambridge Grammar of English), and this forms the basis of grammatical analysis which is used to analyse clinical data in stage 2. Students are also made aware of dialectal variation in syntactic patterns.

(2) Topics related to PSYCHOLINGUISTICS will also be covered in the Linguistics module. These include (a) the organisation of the lexicon, (b) storage and processing of morphologically complex forms, (c) models of language production, (d) theories of sentence comprehension.

(3) Lectures on DISCOURSE/PRAGMATICS aim to develop (a) an understanding of pragmatics and the use of language in context, (b) an understanding of linguistic devices with a discourse function, (c) an understanding of cognitive processes involved in interpreting discourse, and (d) an understanding of syntactic structures which play a discourse role

(4) Lectures on CLINICAL LINGUISTICS will (a) present a survey of selected clinical linguistic analyses that may be used to assess children and adults with speech and language disorders, (b) explore social factors that pose challenges to these analyses, (c) explore the uses of linguistic analysis via practical workshops.

(3) Lectures on BILINGUALISM will (a) introduce students to sociolinguistics, (b) introduce students to sociolinguistic aspects of bilingualism, (c) introduce the students to methods of assessing bilingual speakers, (d) introduce some of the issues around managing bilingual cases.

In relation to HCPC Standards of Proficiency (SoPs), this module addresses aspects of the following standards (in some cases when combined with other modules): 3.3 understand both the need to keep skills and knowledge up to date and the importance of career-long learning; 5 be aware of the impact of culture, equality and diversity on practice; 5.1 understand the requirement to adapt practice to meet the needs of different groups and individuals; 8.5 be aware of the characteristics and consequences of verbal and non-verbal communication and how this can be affected by factors such as age, culture, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status and spiritual or religious beliefs; 13.1 understand the structure and function of the human body, together with knowledge of health, disease, impairment, and dysfunction relevant to their profession; 13.8 understand linguistics and phonetics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics and all levels of typical processing; 13.11 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 societies; 14.7 be able to 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 (covered throughout the programme); 14.9 be able to analyse and critically evaluate the information collected; 14.16 be able to 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; 14.9 be able to analyse and critically evaluate the information collected.

Outline Of Syllabus

The LINGUISTIC component covers the following topics:

Semester 1:
- Introduction to Linguistic Theory; sub-branches of linguistics. Different levels of representation; proposition> sentence> utterance
- Words; how to identify word classes
- Lexical representation; Lexical relationships, eg hyponymy, synonymy. Lexical errors & implications for the lexicon
- Morphemes; Identifying derivational & inflectional morphemes. Phenomenon of agreement
- Morphological representation & processing; Ullman’s dual route model & its implication for inflection. Storage of derived forms (eg whole-entry versus compositional)
- Phrases; How to identify syntactic phrases
- Syntactic functions; Covering all functions in the Cambridge Grammar of English/grammatical analysis framework. Phenomenon of case-marking
- ‘Verbs in the driving seat’; Standard theories of argument structure
- Complementation versus modification; Discussing the difference between complementation & modification, & the different types of modifying phrases (adverbials + relative clauses)
- The Garrett Model of sentence production
- ‘Verbs in the passenger seat’. Looking at sentences where structure is not determined by verb lemma, & its implications for syntactic theory. This leads into a discussion of construction grammar

Semester 2:
- Semantics of time. Tense & grammatical aspect
- Syntax of time; Syntactic expression of tense & grammatical aspect
- Hierarchical structure; An introduction to syntactic trees, & why they are (maybe) a useful formulism
- Types of dependent clause, e.g. Adverbial clauses, clauses in Subject, Complement & Postmodifier position.
- Modality, Mood & voice
- Sentence comprehension; Discussion of the garden path model, constraint-based models, the goodenough model, how syntactic and discourse factors influence processing complexity.
- Dealing with with formulaicity; a discussion of formulaic/idiomatic language, & where it fits into linguistic models
- Linguistics in the clinic; using linguistic theory to diagnose & treat language disorders

The DISCOURSE/PRAGMATICS component covers the following topics
- Syntactic structures with a discourse function
- Meaning in context
- Cohesion and coherence
- Discourse processing
- Speech acts and intentional communication
- Discourse and exchanges
- Inference, Gricean pragmatics and Relevance Theory

The CLINICAL LINGUISTICS component, introduces the students to:
- Collecting speech/language samples from children and adults
- Issues around analysis of speech, including sociolinguistic aspects.
- Analysis of sentence semantics
- Lexical analysis
- Grammatical analysis

The BILINGUALISM Component covers:
- Bilingual populations
- Bilingual language acquisition
- Code-switching
- Working with languages other than English
-English as Additional Language Experience
There is a follow up workshop on clinical management of bilingual clients during Induction to year 2.

In relation to the RCSLT curriculum guidance, the module covers aspects related to phonetics and linguistics (4.4.1) including general linguistics and clinical applications, psycholinguistics, conversation and discourse analyses, sociolinguistics and multilingualism.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture191:0019:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion180:0080:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading180:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops211:0021:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Knowledge outcomes are addressed through lectures to introduce concepts, plus guided reading to allow students to follow these up in more depth.

Skills outcomes are assessed through seminars (Linguistics and Semantics) and class exercises (pragmatics)

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A50Linguistic Written Examination
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M50Choice between Bilingualism or Pragmatics topics, to be completed; 2,000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Linguistic exam; assesses skills outcomes in linguistic analysis.

Bilingualism/ discourse & pragmatic essay: essay assesses knowledge outcomes and also skills outcomes around client management (involves a hypothetical clinical case).

Reading Lists