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SPE1050 : Anatomy & Physiology for Speech and Language

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Kai Alter
  • Lecturer: Dr Meenakshi Swamy, Dr Christos Salis
  • 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: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module aims to develop a sound understanding of the topic areas which provide the necessary underpinning for speech and language therapy practice. It includes relevant learning and teaching relating to anatomy and physiology, neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. It provides the student with core knowledge essential for understanding clinical concepts relating to speech and language disorders that will be encountered later in the course and by a practising speech and language therapist.

For students studying the clinical programmes (BSc Speech & Language Therapy and Master of Speech & Language Sciences), the HCPC Standards of Proficiency are of relevance. This module addresses the following standards:

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

12.8 understand biomedical and medical sciences as relevant to the development and maintenance of communication and swallowing

In relation to the RCSLT curriculum guidance, this module covers aspects related to 4.4.3 Biological and medical sciences, including general anatomy & physiology and biological processes with specific relevance for speech and language therapy.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module provides a basic level of understanding of general anatomy and physiology needed in order to understand both normal biological processes and pathological processes which may affect speech, language, hearing and other aspects of communication.

The curriculum includes:
•       Cell biology and histology. The cell membrane, diffusion, membrane transport, body fluid compartments, electrolyte concentrations
•       Basic structure and function of respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, nervous, musculoskeletal, sensory systems
o       Cardiovascular system: Functional elements of the cardiovascular system, blood flow, mechanical activity of the heart, control of the cardiovascular system, circulation and the brain
o       Respiratory system; Functional elements of the respiratory system; lung volumes and ventilation; pulmonary gas exchange and ventilation perfusion relationships; chemical and neural control of breathing
•       Biological processes with specific relevance for speech and language therapy, with a particular focus on:
o       Anatomy and physiology of the vocal apparatus and ear.
o       Gross anatomy of the external ear and tympanic cavity, role of the structures of the middle ear in sound transmission, anatomy of the membranous labyrinth, inner ear, Organ of Corti, cochlea.
o       Respiration for speech. Thoracic cage: osteology and joints, thoracic muscles and diaphragm, anatomy of an intercostal space, contents of thorax: pleural cavities, lungs, heart and pericardium, mediastinum and its contents, mechanics of ventilation, ventilation during speech
o       Larynx: external framework, extrinsic muscles and relations, intrinsic musculature, nerve supply, movements of the larynx during phonation, other functions of larynx
o       The vocal tract (laryngeal, pharyngeal, oral and nasal cavities and the velopharyngeal system)
•       Osteology of skull: anatomy of cranial vault, cranial base and facial skeleton
•       Neck: osteology, fasciae and surface anatomy, posterior and anterior triangles thyroid gland and other viscera of the neck, carotid sheath and branches of external carotid, vagus nerve, laryngeal nerves, subclavian artery, root of neck, role of infrahyoid and other muscles of neck in speech production
•       Face: craniofacial skeleton, muscles of facial expression, facial nerve, cutaneous innervation of face and trigeminal nerve, blood supply, parotid gland, parotid region, scalp and temporal region, muscles of facial expression and the production of speech
•       Infratemporal fossa: osteology, muscles of mastication, mandibular division of V, maxillary artery and temporo-mandibular joint, movement of the jaw during swallowing and speech
•       Submandibular region: boundaries and contents
•       Oral cavity: floor of mouth, the tongue and its sensory and motor innervation, mucous membrane, movements of the tongue during speech
•       Pharynx: regions musculature and nerve supply, role of the muscles of the pharyngeal wall in speech production
•       Soft palate; form, attachment musculature and function, movements of the soft palate during swallowing and speech
•       Swallowing; stages of swallowing, muscles involved in swallowing, neural control

•       Neuroanatomy and neurophysiology.
•       Organisation of the brain and cranial nerves
o       Interior of cranium: cranial sutures, grooves and foramina, cranial fossae and contents dural reflections, venous sinuses, vertebral column and spinal cord, relationship of brain to cranial cavity and cranial nerves, intracranial haemorrhages.
o       Gross topography of the brain: anatomical subdivisions of the nervous system, neuroanatomical terms, introduction to topographic anatomy of the brain.
o       Blood supply of the brain: internal carotid and vertebral arterial systems and the circle of Willis, the meninges and the ventricular system.
o       Neurocytology: fine structure of neurones and glial cells, cell biology of neurones, neuronal injury.
o       Peripheral nerves and myelination: structure of sensory receptors, structure of peripheral

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture282:0056:00Lectures: 34 hours Anatomy and 22 hours Physiology
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion220:0040:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials101:0010:00Anatomy non-synchronous online materials (PCaps/short recordings/tutorials/quizzes)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical42:008:00Practical - Anatomy
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study186:0086:00N/A
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
SPE8158MSc Anatomy & Physiology for Speech and Language
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The main teaching method used to deliver the course content is lectures. Students will be encouraged to reflect many of the ideas introduced through directed self-study. Study will be directed through the medium of supplementary information delivered as part of the study materials and through the medium of Canvas. This directed self-study will focus on simple case examples and clinical illustrations of the points made. Students are expected to undertake private study each week in preparation for the lectures that week and to consolidate the material of the week before. This is designed to encourage them to an understanding of the applications of anatomical and physiological knowledge to clinical problems and to broaden their reading and thinking about those applications.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601A30Anatomy component; Physiology component.
Written Examination1202A70Anatomy component; Physiology component.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written examination (1) has a lower weighting and is designed to provide practice in preparation for the final examination.

The written examination (2) will assess the knowledge of anatomy and physiology delivered during the lectures, and acquired through directed and provide study and the ability to select knowledge appropriately to answer specific questions and to demonstrate understanding of the anatomical and physiological mechanisms of speech perception and production and neural control.

Anatomy and Physiology elements to be passed independently with no cross compensation. These were previously separate modules (SPE1014 and SPE1015).

Reading Lists