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Module QXL-4425:
Speech Science

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Sarah Cooper

Overall aims and purpose

This module provides students with a deep understanding of phonetic transcription, acoustic phonetics and the experimental investigation of speech production. It aims to provide students with a selection of techniques for transcribing and analysing spoken language, allowing the student to make sense of sound data collected in the field or in a laboratory. Students will get hands-on experience with speech analysis software, will learn how to design, collect and analyse their own speech data, and will practice doing so.

1. to introduce students to the advanced study of phonetics including speech production and the acoustic analysis of speech,
2. to make students aware of the concepts, theories, and methodologies characteristic of this field of study,
3. to provide training and practice in how to conduct research in this area of study, including data collection and analysis.

Course content

This module will cover topics such as:
- experimental data design design,
- recording speech,
- sociophonetic variation,
- speech technology,
- analysing the acoustic properties of sounds,
- reading waveforms and spectrograms,
- relating waveforms and spectrograms to articulation,
- analysing fundamental frequency (pitch),
- using speech analysis software.

Assessment Criteria


The answer must address the question.
The answer must show a basic knowledge and understanding of the relevant key areas and principles of the foundational theories, constructs and methodologies of Linguistics.
The answers shows only basic ability in the learning outcomes.
The student must show evidence of being able to apply the principles to the analysis of language and linguistic examples and/or data.
The answer must evidence of some background study.


B: The answer must be focussed and structured.
The answer must show a better-than-average standard of knowledge and understanding of the foundational theories, constructs and methodologies of Linguistics.
The answer must show a better than average ability in all/most of the learning outcomes.
The linguistic examples used in the answer may be based upon examples from the literature but must also include original examples.
The answer must show evidence of background study with at least some from primary sources.


The answer must be highly focused and well-structured, free from irrelevant material and errors of spelling and punctuation. The answer must show comprehensive knowledge and detailed understanding, and demonstrate the ability to apply concepts clearly, accurately and in depth. The answer must show advanced ability in all of the learning outcomes.
The answer must show substantial evidence of original interpretation and critical thinking, and the ability to make new links between topics and/or a new approach to a problem.
The answer must show evidence of extensive background study beyond basic texts and using primary sources.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will demonsatrate detailed knowledge of the theory, techniques and applications of the acoustic analysis of speech

  2. Students will be able to collect, analyse and present speech data.

  3. Students will be able to place their own speech data research in the context of current research in the field (at a level suitable for masters research projects).

  4. Students will demonstrate advanced skills in recognising, transcribing and analysing a wide range of speech sounds.

  5. Students will demonstrate advanced understanding of how speech sounds are produced and perceived in isolation and in running speech

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ORAL Individual Presentation

Students will design a poster on the data collection for the module, and give a 10 minute individual presentation to the class on it

REPORT Research Report

Students will collect and analyse their own data and write it up as a 3500 word research report.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


One 2-hour lecture per week (over 11 teaching weeks)


Five 1-hour seminars/practicals for discussion of issues from lectures, exercise tasks and brief presentation tasks; Seminars will include practical problem solving and analytical exercises via individual and group work.


Students may 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 3 hours) on the topic of that week's lecture.

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.


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.
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Research skills - students will be able to undertake advanced independent research, involving formulating a research question, identifying and deploying appropriate linguistic methodology (theoretical or empirical), data collection techniques (experimental or field-based), as well as the selection and application of appropriate theoretical frameworks in order to adequately analyse and interpret data.
  • 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 to an advanced standard.
  • Analysis & interpretation skills - students will be able to analyse and interpret data accurately and to draw appropriate conclusions based on the application of appropriate analytic and theoretical frameworks available in linguistics and English language studies.
  • Evaluation & reflection - students will be able to critically evaluate to an advanced standard 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 highly original and 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 synthesising written, visual and oral information. Students will also develop skills of independent investigation, including interacting with peers and participants/informants.
  • 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
  • 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 linguistic theory and application - students will demonstrate a detailed knowledge of terms, issues, principles, aspects and best practices related to the study of human language and linguistics.
  • Understanding of the nature and organisation of language - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge of observations and findings relating to various aspects of linguistic phenomena and organization.
  • Knowledge of the nature of language origins, change and use - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge phenomena and findings relating to the nature of language origins, the way language changes, and factors involved in and affecting language use.


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: