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Module QXL-1110:
Introduction to Language

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Miss Athanasia Papastergiou

Overall aims and purpose

This is a foundation module which introduces students to the basic concepts in the study of natural language and to some of the tools required for language analysis. The module provides basic overview of a range of topics in the study of natural language, and lays the foundations for the study of core areas of Linguistics and English Language which will be developed in other first year modules (and in subsequent years), including phonetics, phonology (sound systems), morphology (word structure), syntax (sentence structure), and meaning (semantics and context of communication), and how these areas interact. Some more applied topics will also be introduced, such as Language Acquisition, Sociolinguistics and Language Pathology.

The language used for the purposes of exemplification in this module is primarily English, although other languages may also be referred to. The module will also cover some basic academic skills, including essay writing, planning and delivering oral presentations and exam preparation/revision. Some research skills will also be introduced through participation in the 'Adopt a Language' project, where students will collect information about a little-known language. The module will also make students aware of key/transferable skills that they will be developing in their degree, most notably critical thinking.

Aims :
- To introduce students to the core areas of linguistics and to the basic terminology used in the analysis of natural language.
- To introduce students to the basic classification and analysis of natural language properties and phenomena.
- To introduce students to academic skills and key skills.
- To enable students to apply technical concepts and terminology to basic analysis of natural language data.

Course content

The course provides an overview of and introduction to a wide range of topics in the study of natural language, including:
- What is language?
- Morphology: words and their structure.
- Phonetics and Phonology: language sounds and sound systems.
- Syntax: sentence structure.
- Semantics and Pragmatics: meaning and context.
- Study Skills - essays, exams and presentations. - Adopt a Language project.

Other topics that may be covered will include a selection from:
- Language variation.
- Language change.
- Language acquisition.
- Language pathologies.
- Language and the brain.

Assessment Criteria


Student has achieved the minimum acceptable standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all the learning outcomes. Student can demonstrate a minimum level of understanding of the basic concepts and be able to apply them to data with some degree of accuracy.


Student has achieved a better-than-average standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all learning outcomes, and has a clear and accurate understanding of concepts; ability to apply concepts to data critically and thoughtfully; evidence of wide reading and clear and accurate reference to source materials; free from misunderstanding and errors of content; free from irrelevant material.


Student has achieved a thorough standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all learning outcomes; or student has demonstrated an exceptional level of achievement in one or more learning outcomes together with a good overall standard: student has achieved a thorough understanding of the subject, both in terms of content and theory; student is able to apply concepts clearly and accurately; substantial evidence of critical and original thought and analysis; clear, logical argument; high level of communicative competence; free from irrelevant material and errors of spelling and punctuation; evidence of extensive reading beyond basic texts and clear and accurate references to source material.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will develop the ability to plan and write an academic essay, plan and prepare an oral presentation,and to prepare appropriately and effectively for examinations.

  2. Students will demonstrate familiarity with the core areas of linguistics

  3. Students will develop knowledge of basic terminology and techniques for the analysis of natural language.

  4. Students will achieve a basic understanding of a wide range of topics in the study of natural language.

  5. Students will develop a basic ability to analyse natural language data, and to carry out phonetic transcription.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Written assignment, including essay Online exam 55
Written assignment, including essay Linguistic Analysis 40

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Seminars: 1 hour per week (over 9 weeks), with additional exercises to be done in the students' own time.


One 2 hour lecture per week over 11 teaching weeks.

Private study

In their own time, students will be expected to do further reading, go through materials covered in class and do further research on the topics, and prepare assignments.


Students are encouraged to see the lecturer on a one-to-one basis during published office hours (or by appointment) to discuss issues with the module content, seek clarification on topics and discussions, and discuss feedback on assessments and class exercises.

Private study

Directed Reading - students are given required reading each week (of about 2 hours) on the topic of that week's lecture.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Writing & scholarly conventions - students will be able to present data, argumentation, findings and references in written form in keeping with the conventions current in language science and English language studies.
  • Oral presentation skills & scholarly conventions - students will be able to present data, argumentation, findings and references in oral form in keeping with the conventions current in language science and English language studies.
  • Analysis & interpretation skills - students will be able to analyse, interpret data accurately, and draw appropriate conclusions based on the application of appropriate analytic and theoretical frameworks available in linguistics and English language studies.
  • Research skills - students will be able undertake independent research, involving formulating a research question, identifying and deploying appropriate linguistic methodology (theoretical or empirical) and data collection techniques (theoretical, experimental or field-based), and the selection and application of appropriate theoretical frameworks in order to adequately address the research question.
  • Evaluation & reflection - students will be able to critically evaluate a particular position, viewpoint or argument in relation to a specific area of investigation. They will be able to reflect on the efficacy of a particular approach, practice or performance, and moderate these as a consequence in order to achieve specific goals.
  • Independent investigation - students will develop the ability to plan, design and execute a significant piece of research or inquiry, either independently or as a member of a team in order to discover a specific solution to an outstanding issue or question through searching out and synthesizing written, visual and oral information. Students will also develop skills of independent investigation, including interacting with peers and subjects/informants.
  • Fluency, confidence and proficiency in the use of English -students will demonstrate their ability and proficiency to use and understand and instruct others in English in a range of academic and classroom contexts.
  • Effective communication - students will develop the ability to communicate effectively, appropriately and confidently, in a range of contexts, to different audience types, and making use of a range of supporting materials
  • Learning to learn - students will learn to reflect, modify and improve their learning strategies
  • Awareness of and appreciation for linguistic and cultural differences - students will develop an awareness of and an appreciation for the range and nature of linguistic and cultural diversity
  • Knowledge of the nature of language origins, change and use - students will demonstrate familiarity with phenomena and findings relating to the nature of language origins, the way language changes, and factors involved in and affecting language use.
  • Understanding the nature of commonalities and differences across languages - students will demonstrate familiarity with phenomena and findings relating to universals and diversity exhibited by and across languages.
  • Proficiency in the use of English in reading, writing, speaking and/or listening - students will demonstrate proficiency in their ability to use and understand English in a range of different contexts and via different media.
  • Understanding of the nature and organization of language - students will demonstrate familiarity with observations and findings relating to various aspects of linguistic phenomena and organization.


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Reading list

QXL-1110 Introduction to Language Reading List

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: