BA English Language

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Experimental Phonetics

Course unit fact file
Unit code LELA20342
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit is a hands-on exploration of the production and perception of speech sounds, with a focus on experimental methodology.  We’ll cover the basic principles governing the relationship between articulation and acoustics, looking at the source of sound waves in the larynx and how that sound source is shaped by the vocal tract.  Students will learn how to measure a variety of acoustic properties of speech, and how those measurements can be used as a tool to investigate questions in phonology, sociolinguistics, and second language acquisition.  We’ll also explore how speech sound are perceived, and what factors influence the relationship between the acoustic signal and what the listener hears.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Phonology LELA20011 Pre-Requisite Recommended
Quantitative Methods in Language Sciences LELA20231 Pre-Requisite Recommended
The Sounds of Language LELA10322 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


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.
  • The design of phonetic experiments.
  • The use of phonetic analysis as a tool to answer broader research questions.

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, sociolinguistics, and second language acquisition.

Intellectual skills

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

  • Recognise and evaluate well-informed 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 answering research questions in linguistics.
  • Design and carry out scientific experiments.
  • Analyse and interpret experimental data.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Perform basic quantitative analysis and visualisation of data.
  • Write a scientific report.

Employability skills

By the end of the semester, students will have gained experience designing and carrying out a scientific experiment and interpreting and writing up the results. Understanding how to ask questions, and how to go about finding the answers to those questions, is a fundamental skill for almost any professional-level job. In addition, students will have gained experiencing carrying out a multi-step project as a team, including navigating group dynamics and dividing workload equitably.

Assessment methods

Reading Reports                        20%

Practical Exercises (Portfolio)    30%

Group Project                             50%

Feedback methods

Feedback method- Formative or Summative

Optional written feedback on practical exercises (prior to portfolio submission)- Formative 

Written feedback on portfolio- Formative and summative 

Written feedback on project proposal- Formative

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Wendell Kimper Unit coordinator

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