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SPE1053 : Linguistics and Phonetics I

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Ghada Khattab
  • Lecturer: Dr Nick Riches, Dr Cong Zhang
  • 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


Module covers aspects of syntax, semantics, psycholinguistics & phonetics.

Linguistics component teaches students how to analyse language structure (syntax), how meaning is expressed through language (semantics), and 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. Student also made aware of dialectal variation in syntactic patterns.

Phonetics component aims to provide students with introduction to study of phonetics. It is devoted to learning about the human vocal mechanism, the sounds it can produce, how those sounds can be classified, they form the phonological systems of various languages. The unit 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 uptodate.

In relation to HCPC Standards of Proficiency, 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

In relation to the RCSLT curriculum guidelines, this modules covers aspects related to 4.4.1 with a focus on phonetics and clinical applications, general linguistics and clinical applications and psycholinguistics.

Outline Of Syllabus

The Linguistics 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
- Phrases; How to identify syntactic phrases
- The Noun Phrase and the Verb Phrase

Semester 2:
- Phrasehood / constituency
- Syntactic functions
- Adverbial clauses
- Argument structure
- Models of language production
- Sentence comprehension

The Phonetics component covers the following topics:
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
- Phonology I: Minimal pairs, features, phonological system in SLT
- Phonology II: Syllables, phonotactics, morphophonology

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:
- Sociophonetics I: main differences between accents of English
- Sociophonetics II: regional accents transcription
- 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 key aspects of curriculum guidelines, see end of Content Summary Aims.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture181:0018:00Phonetics
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion220:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical181:0018:00Phonetics
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical241:0024:00Linguistics
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops61:006:00Phonetics
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study194:0094:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Phonetics component

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.

Linguistic component (unable to put this text in the syllabus due to character limited)
At this stage, mastery of key concepts is best achieved through active / participatory learning, rather than passive attendance at lectures. Teaching will be as flipped as possible. Some sessions will be completely flipped (students carry out readings and workshops consist of guided activities), while other workshops consist of lecture-style teaching and fewer and interspersed activities. In the event of a resurgence of COVID those sessions with a limited practical element will be converted to Synchronous online, while those with a strong practical element will be replaced by online seminars.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Digital Examination301A20N/A
Digital Examination1202A80N/A
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


- Examinations are used to assess both conceptual understanding, and ability to conduct semantic and syntactic analyses of linguistic stimuli, and knowledge and key principles of Phonetic analysis.
- Examinations assess analytical abilities under time pressure, which is an important pre-requisite for the clinical elements of the course.
In the event that we need to pivot online, the format of the exam will change from a 60 minute invigilated exam to a 24 hour take home exam. The content will change according to the format. For example, for the take home exam, the number of questions will be increased to make it more demanding, and more emphasis will be placed on the mini-essay style questions.

Exam 1 assesses the knowledge and key principles of phonetic analysis.
Exam 2 is a joint-exam with linguistics. The phonetics component 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.

Reading Lists