BSc Speech and Language Therapy / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Linguistics, Phonetics and Language Development A

Course unit fact file
Unit code PCHN10221
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit runs over 8 weeks in the first semester of study, immediately prior to students’ first clinic placement and forms a foundation in linguistics, phonetics and typical language development.  Students will discover structural and functional properties of English by learning to identify and describe the language’s sound system and its early lexical, morphological, and syntactic features.


The unit aims to:

  • Introduce students to fundamental concepts of verbal and nonverbal communication, linguistics and language development.
  • Provide students with opportunities to develop their knowledge and understanding of the perception and production of speech, of typical language development and interaction, and of the different areas of linguistics - to enable them to make informed observations during their first clinic placement.
  • Provide students with opportunities to gain basic practical skills in phonetic and linguistic (particularly grammatical) transcription and analysis, with the aim of being able to apply such knowledge to the communication of child and adult clients with communication difficulties.

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • Describe milestones of typical language development using relevant linguistic terminology.
  • Describe different theoretical approaches to the study of language development.
  • Identify the unique characteristics which define language and set it apart from other communication systems placing language in its social context.
  • Describe and illustrate: the perception and production of sounds found in human languages, syntactic categories and constituents in syntactically simple English sentences and the verbal system in English.
  • Understand the professional importance of accuracy in transcribing, analysing and describing speech and language.

Intellectual skills

  • Synthesize selected evidence from the appropriate directed reading.
  • Develop an appreciation of the scientific approach to the study of language.
  • Develop their understanding of information provided in lectures through relevant, independent reading.
  • Start making connections between their knowledge of typical development and their expectation of features of atypical development of communication. 
  • Apply linguistic knowledge acquired to real developmental data.

Practical skills

  • Transcribe simple linguistic and phonetic data. 
  • Analyse and describe phonemic, morphological and syntactic features of linguistic systems.
  • Use databases to find peer-reviewed journal articles.
  • Understand the structure and layout of an academic journal article and referencing conventions.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Develop ability to write clearly and concisely and using appropriate terminology.
  • Utilise library and electronic resources to support and extend learning.

Teaching and learning methods

Learning and teaching processes will utilise tutor-led lectures, tutorials, practical data analysis workshops, online quizzes and online discussion via the Blackboard online learning environment.

To support independent study, learning materials including teaching slides, recommended reading and preparatory tasks will be provided in advance of teaching sessions on the unit’s online Blackboard learning environment.

Assessment methods

Multiple-choice examination (1 hour, 100%)

Feedback methods

An individual mark will be provided following the examination.  

Throughout the unit, students will have the opportunity to self-evaluate their work, skills and understanding against online model answers to quizzes, and class and peer group discussions. In addition, tutorials will provide feedback on practical opportunities to practice accuracy of sound identification and production, and the analysis of linguistic data.

Recommended reading

Cruz-Ferreira, M., & Abraham, S. A. (2011). The language of language: A linguistics course for starters. North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Knight, R. A. (2012). Phonetics: a coursebook. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hoff, E. (2014). Language Development (5th ed.). Wadsworth: Cengage Learning.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 24
Seminars 8
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ceri Ellis Unit coordinator

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