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SML1019 : Introduction to Linguistics

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Damien Hall
  • Lecturer: Dr Carol Fehringer, Professor Ian MacKenzie
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

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

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


In consonance with the overall aims of the degrees offered in the SML, this module aims to provide students with a broad-based introduction to linguistics using data mainly from French, German, and Spanish. It provides a basic introduction to the scientific study of human language. Students will be introduced to the description of French, German, or Spanish, especially to phonetic transcription and some basic tools for the description of the respective sound system, word structure and sentence structure. Later in the module, more general topics such as sociolinguistics and historical linguistics will be explored.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lectures and seminars alternate.

Topics covered will include most of the following (precise details could vary according to staff availability):
- phonetics
- phonology
- morphology
- syntax
- historical linguistics
- sociolinguistics: language contact
- sociolinguistics: language variation

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion41:004:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials52:0010:00Online asynchronous
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching201:0020:00PiP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00PiP
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1621:00162:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk11:001:00PiP
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module talk introduces students to what linguistics is and does, and goes over practical aspects such as how the module will run.

Structured learning from recordings introduces students to the general principles of a number of subdisciplines of linguistics in turn. They will be asked to listen to recordings and do some preliminary reading before engaging in the small group teaching. The blended learning mode of teaching is being retained because it showed itself to be very effective, allowing students time to reflect in their own time.

Small group teaching will enable students to apply the general principles of each linguistic subdiscipline to their own language (in each semester students will choose whether to join the French, German or Spanish seminar).

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A70Off-campus resit available only if on-campus exam is affected by pandemic, or if permitted by PEC
Written Examination501M30In-class test
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
Written exercise1MPractice phonetic transcription, or other practice relevant to the assessment (e.g. a mock exam)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written in-class test will assess factual and technical knowledge, while the final examination will also assess analytical skills and self-expression. The overall assessment package aims to ensure both subject-specific knowledge development and the consolidation of core transferrable skills.

The formative assessment is a practice transcription in Semester 1, or another form of practice relevant to the Semester 1 summative assessment, such as a mock exam. Not all summative assessment includes phonetic transcription of passages.

RESIT: 2-hour exam, covering the whole module content (the first-sit 2-hour exam covers only the Semester 2 topics). ALTERNATIVE RESIT: 1,000-word essay (available only if the pandemic makes on-campus exams impossible, or if the PEC Committee permits a student to do their resit off-campus).

Reading Lists