Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

We understand that prospective students and offer holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Holding an offer for 2020 entry? Visit our dedicated offer-holders page to find out if Manchester's right for you.

Information for offer-holders

BA Linguistics / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Speech and Music Processing

Unit code LELA10701
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit will introduce students to the parallel study of speech and music using a cognitive approach. Topics covered include sound elements across the domains of speech and music, melody, rhythm, syntax and evolution. The course will also address the topic of speech and music processing in individuals with acquired and developmental disorders and will provide a friendly introduction to the neural underpinnings of the speech and music domains. The above topics will be discussed in the light of the debate whether speech and music rely on shared or distinct mechanisms.


The overarching aim of this course unit is to promote an interdisciplinary approach to language and music studies and raise awareness of their relationship among students of different educational backgrounds. In line with the University’s mission to promote Digital Humanities, the course will also aim to draw clear links between data and theory. 


The topics covered include the following:
1) Introduction to the sound systems of language and music 
2) Processing of pitch across the domains 
3) Linguistic and emotional prosody perception across the domains
4) Linguistic and musical syntax 
5) Speech, music and hemispheric asymmetries 
6) Acquired amusia 
7) Congenital amusia
8) Speech and music processing in other neurodevelopmental disorders
9) Evolution  

Teaching and learning methods

One 2hr lecture per week; one 1hr Seminar per week.

Knowledge and understanding

Students will gain detailed knowledge and understanding of the following notions: (a) the relationship between language and music from the standpoint of cognitive science (b) the question of the modularity of mind (c) the nature of different human communication systems. 

Intellectual skills

Students will develop intellectual skills of
Understanding interdisciplinarity 
Critical thinking 
Assessing sources promoting similarities versus those emphasising differences 
Questioning the evidence stemming from the above perspectives

Practical skills

Students will develop practical skills of
Understanding sound elements through an interdisciplinary lens
Taking into consideration conflicting sources of evidence
Providing concise and precise argumentation in writing 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students will develop transferable skills of

  • Understanding of the tension between different approaches in a new research field
  • Awareness of the approaches adopted in a hotly debated area of research
  • Awareness of biological and cultural variables across the domains of speech and music

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Weekly seminar exercises




Online quizzes




Non-assessed presentations




Assessed online quiz




Individual essay on a topic of choice


2000 words



Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Comments on students’ solutions to seminar exercises / contributions to the seminar discussions


Instant feedback to online quizzes


Feedback on questions and problems during individual consultation hours


Written feedback on written coursework

Formative and Summative


Recommended reading

Albouy, P., Peretz, I., Bermudez, P., Zatorre, R. J., Tillmann, B., & Caclin, A. (2019). Specialized neural dynamics for verbal and tonal memory: fMRI evidence in congenital amusia. Human Brain Mapping, 40, 855-867.

Ayotte, J., Peretz, I., & Hyde, K. (2002). Congenital amusia: A group study of adults afflicted with a music¿specific disorder. Brain, 125, 238-25.

Fitch, W. T. (2006). The biology and evolution of music: a comparative perspective. Cognition, 100, 173–215.

Ockleford, A. (2013). Music, Language and Autism: Exceptional Strategies for Exceptional Minds. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Patel, A. D. (2010). Music, Language, and the Brain. New York: Oxford University Press.

Zatorre, R. J., & Baum, S. R. (2012). Musical melody and speech intonation: Singing a different tune. PLoS Biol, 10, e1001372.

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Eva Schultze-Berndt Unit coordinator

Return to course details