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MA Linguistics / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Phonetics and Phonology I

Unit code LELA70062
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit introduces students to foundational concepts and basic analytical skills in phonology and phonetics.  Students will learn about the principles of speech production and perception, how to transcribe a variety of speech sounds, as well as the methods involved in phonological analysis.  


As this course unit is a combination of phonetic and phonological components:

  • An understanding of current approaches to studying the production and perception of speech sounds (both articulatory and acoustic aspects); a competency in the description of human language sounds; the ability to accurately recognize and transcribe these sounds
  • An introduction to the fundamental theoretical questions and issues in patterns of sounds; an introduction to syllable structure as it relates to other prosodic constituents; an overview of other phonological topics, including distinctive features, autosegmental representations, the interfaces of phonology with phonetics and morphology, and constraint-based phonology (Optimality Theory)


·                     Articulatory phonetics: consonants, vowels, tone, intonation

·                     Introduction to acoustic analysis (soundwaves, formant structures, amplitude)

·                     Lab component: transcription practice, production practice, data set exercises

Lecture, discussion and dataset analysis activities relating to the major themes covered in the   phonology lectures

Teaching and learning methods

One Phonetics Tutorial (50 minutes), weekly, as needed
One Phonetics & Phonology Lecture, weekly (2 x 50 minutes consecutively) each week

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

Transcribe speech sounds, understand phonological rules and their interrelationships, express awareness of theoretical approaches (Linear & Autosegmental Phonology, Prosodic Phonology, Lexical Phonology, Optimality Theory)

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

Learn and apply techniques for data analysis, and critical analysis, create and assess coherent arguments, gain familiarity with speech sounds, their means of production, and the appropriate IPA symbols used to transcribe them

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

Gain and use skills in problem solving, resource location (appropriate literature location, procurement & analysis), (transcription) conventions

Transferable skills and personal qualities

The ability to undertake successful self-directed study and learning, critical reading skills, appropriate time-management; Students will also gain skills in computer & software use and analysis.

Assessment methods

Practical Exam
50 Minutes

One Essay on a Chosen Topic in Phonetics or Phonology
3,000 words

Feedback methods

Comments made during class discussion regarding the relevance and coherence of student responses or participation in discussion. (In other words, you should be able to judge from the discussion which ideas are better or worse).

Written comments on the assessed coursework, plus face-to-face discussion if desired (on the understanding that this deanonymizes the marking).

Recommended reading


Ladefoged, Peter & Keith Johnson.  2011.  A Course in Phonetics, 6th Edition. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth.

Ladefoged, Peter.  2001.  Vowels and Consonants, 2nd Edition.  Oxford: Blackwell.

Ladefoged, Peter and Ian Maddieson.  1996.  Sounds of the World’s Languages.  Oxford: Blackwell.



Gussenhoven, C., and Jacobs, H. 2005. Understanding Phonology, 2nd Edition. London: Hodder Arnold.

Kenstowicz, M. 1994. Phonology in Generative Grammar. Oxford: Blackwell.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 117

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ricardo Bermudez-Otero Unit coordinator

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