Module QXL-4449:

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Marco Tamburelli

Overall aims and purpose

The aim of this module is to survey current research and approaches to the study of psycholinguistics. It provides an overview of major empirical issues and findings concerning the development and processing of language. Topics will change from year to year and may include lexical and morphological processing, development of cognition, language and modularity, information processing. The focus will be on both first language (L1) and second language (L2) processing. The lectures will provide you with the “big picture”, i.e. central topics are summarized, important studies discussed and open questions outlined. In the tutorials, we will then discuss key studies in detail and reflect on methodologies, results and implications.

Course content

This module provides an overview of how the mind and the brain process language. There are three goals for this course. The first goal is to introduce students to key findings and central debates in psycholinguistic research. The second goal is to provide students with the tools to critically examine the existing literature. The third goal is to equip the students with the ability to select appropriate experimental techniques for psycholinguistic studies and to be applied for their own research. The lectures will provide students with the “big picture”, i.e. central topics are summarized, important studies discussed and open questions outlined. In the tutorials, students discuss key studies in detail and reflect on methodologies, results and implications. The following topics will be covered: 1: Introduction to Language Science and what is psycholinguistics? 2: Speech production and comprehension 3: Word processing 4: Sentence processing 5: Discourse processing 6: Reference and non-literal language 7: Language Acquisition 8: Reading 9: Bilingualism 10: Aphasia 11: Right Hemisphere Language Functions

Assessment Criteria


“A” : Data and/or review of literature must be evaluated critically in a logical manner. The answer must have an originality of exposition and understanding; the author’s own thinking should be readily apparent. The answer must show clear evidence of extensive reading of primary sources. The answer must show a clear line structure in which each successive stage is explicitly linked and the reader is explicitly told why these parts are relevant to the study.


“C” : The answer must involve the analysis of language data or the critical analysis of existing linguistic data and/or research from a Psycholinguistic perspective (i.e behavioural, computational, neuroscientific perspective). The answer must show evidence of some background study of primary sources going beyond material discussed in lectures. The answer must be relevant to the research topic chosen.


“B” : Data and/or review of literature must be collected, organized, and analysed with care and an appreciation must be shown of some of the problems involved with collecting data and/or preparing a review of literature. The answer must show a better-than-average standard of knowledge and understanding. The answer must show evidence of background of primary sources. Assertions must be supported by reference to a theory and/or empirical research. The answer must show evidence of analytical thinking. The answer must have a coherent structure that is adhered to in the most part; relationships between successive parts must be generally easy to follow.

Learning outcomes

  1. On successful completion of the module,

    Students will know: 1. the central questions addressed by the current literature in in psycholinguistic research, 2. how to critically evaluate empirical studies in psycholinguistics

  2. Students will Understand: 3. the principles underlying the scientific method in general and scientific experimentation in particular 4. what research methods (behavioural, computational, neuroscientific) are commonly used in psycholinguistics and how to evaluate and select them.

  3. Students will be able to: 5. present and discuss key facts, concepts, ideas and approaches relating to the study of psycholinguistics. 6. Evaluate experimental designs in psycholinguistics

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

The focus of the presentation will be on a short literature review, critical analysis and one-two ideas for ways to move forward in a specific domain of Psycholinguistics (e.g, language acquisition, comprehension or speech production) of your choice.

ESSAY Essay assignment

Essay on a particular research area in the Psycholinguistics literature.

EXAM Blackboard-based test

The exam will assess topics covered during the whole semester.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


One two-hour lecture per week, for 11 weeks.


One one-hour seminar per fortnight, over 11 weeks.

Private study

Directed Reading - students are given required reading each week (of about 3 hours) on the topic of that week's lecture.


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

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
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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, to an advanced level.
  • 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.
  • Problem solving - students will be able to evidence sophisticated problem-solving skills in formulating problems (factual, empirical, theoretical) in precise terms, identifying key issues, and developing the confidence to address challenging problems using a variety of different approaches
  • 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.
  • Personal organisation - students will develop the ability to undertake self-directed study and learning with appropriate time-management
  • 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
  • Working effectively with others - students will develop the ability to work well with others as part of a group or a team
  • 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 relationship between language and mind/brain - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge of phenomena and findings relating to the complex interdependent relationship between language and mind/brain.
  • Understanding of the nature of bi/multilingualism - students will demonstrate familiarity with phenomena and findings relating to the nature of bilingual and multilingual individuals and communities.


Resource implications for students

There are no resource implications.

Talis Reading list

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: