BA Latin and Linguistics / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Experimental Phonetics

Unit code LELA20341
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit examines quantitative methods of describing and explaining the physical nature of speech, primarily from the angles of acoustic phonetics and speech perception. While the course deals with basic principles of acoustics in order to understand how sound waves originate in the vocal tract, it does so in a way that requires no previous knowledge of physics. Students will learn how to measure vowel qualities, segment durations, pitch patterns, and other acoustic characteristics of speech in order to do scientific research


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Phonology LELA20012 Pre-Requisite Optional
LALC10221A Pre-Requisite Optional

Pre-requisite: Either LELA10221 Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology: The Sounds of English OR LELA20011 Introduction to Phonology


The aim of this course unit is to provide a strong foundation in the techniques involved in phonetic analysis.  Students will acquire an understanding of the main concepts employed in the acoustic analysis of speech sounds and in the design of phonetic experiments.

Pre-requisite: Either LALC10221A Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology: The Sounds of English OR LELA20011 Introduction to Phonology


Topics include:

  • Basic acoustics
  • Pitch and phonation type
  • Dynamics and measurement of: stops, fricatives, vowels, liquids and nasals.
  • Coarticulation
  • Speech perception

Teaching and learning methods

2-hour lecture weekly; 1-hour tutorial weekly.


Knowledge and understanding

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

  • Understand the relationship between articulation, acoustic signal, and perception in speech sounds.
  • Understand the relationship between phonetic measurements and hypotheses in phonology and sociolinguistics.

Intellectual skills

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

  • Pose well-formed research questions.
  • Read and interpret scientific articles.
  • Answer theoretical questions using scientific evidence and sound reasoning.

Practical skills

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

  • Measure the acoustic properties of speech relevant for research questions in phonology/phonetics and sociolinguistics.
  • Design and carry out scientific experiments.
  • Analyse and interpret experimental data.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

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

  • Pose well-formed research questions.
  • Perform basic quantitative analysis of data.
  • Write a scientific report.

Assessment methods

 Assessment task:

  • Tutorial participation (10%)
  • Practical exercises (20%)
  • 4 x 500 words reading report (20%)
  • Group project- 3000 words maximum (50%)

Feedback methods

  • Oral feedback on contributions to lecture and tutorial discussion.
  • Global feedback on practical exercises.
  • Written feedback on project report.
  • additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Recommended reading

Required reading:

  • Johnson, Keith. 2003. Acoustic and Auditory Phonetics, 2nd edition. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Ladefoged, Peter. 2003. Phonetic Data Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Tutorials 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Wendell Kimper Unit coordinator

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