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Module PLP-3002:
Brain and Language

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Marie-Josephe Tainturier

Overall aims and purpose

Language is a wondrous feat of the human brain. By allowing us to communicate our thoughts and feelings through space and time, it is a central pillar of the most extraordinary accomplishments of humankind. But how does it work? What when we speak more than one language? What when things go wrong? In this advanced module we will explore several aspects of spoken and written language abilities in both impaired and unimpaired populations. We will examine research evidence from cognitive psychology (errors, reaction times) and neuroscience (brain imaging, evoked potentials, brain stimulation). In addition, we will consider how the study of language disorders (e.g., aphasia, dyslexia) contributes to a better understanding of the neural bases of language.

Course content

In this advanced module we will explore several aspects of spoken and written language processing in normal and impaired populations. Specific topics will include: Understanding spoken words, producing words, reading and writing, bilingualism. We will cover main theories and examine research evidence from converging sources: cognitive psychology (errors, reaction times), neuroscience (brain imaging, evoked potentials, brain stimulation) and neuropsychology (e.g., aphasia, dyslexia).

Assessment Criteria


Reasonably comprehensive coverage. Well organised and structured. Good understanding of the material.


Comprehensive and accurate coverage of the area clarity of argument and expression. Depth of insight into theoretical issues.


Adequate answer to the question, largely based on lecture material. No real development of arguments.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate their ability to relate data to theory on topics presented in lectures.

  2. Demonstrate their ability to interpret findings from cognitive neuropsychology and brain-imaging studies.

  3. Critically evaluate research articles related to the topics covered.

  4. Present a clear summary of one or more research articles.

  5. Write a proposal for a new study into one of the topics covered.

  6. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different methods used to study brain and language

  7. Demonstrate their ability to present research findings to a student audience.

  8. Demonstrate engagement with the materials in weekly seminars

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK Project proposal

Written research proposal on a topic of your own choosing related to the course content.

COURSEWORK Critical mini-report

Four brief critical evaluations of assigned research papers and submission of questions to be discussed during the seminars.

Due: Between weeks 4 and 11

ORAL Oral presentation of one research study

An individual powerpoint presentation and discussion of one assigned research paper

Due: On one allocated week between Weeks 2 and 10.

CLASS PARTICIPATION Class participation and group work week one

Seminar attendance and participation in class activities. Marked on an exemption basis.

FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT Practice proposal presentation

A 5 minutes presentation and class discussion of a mock proposal. This is a formative assessment to help prepare students for the final assignment. Slides to be submitted.

Class participation and group work week two 1
Class participation and group work week three 1
Class participation and group work week four 1
Class participation and group work week five 1
Class participation and group work week six 1
Class participation and group work week seven 1
Class participation and group work week eight 1

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Seminars will take place weekly. Students will be actively involved in the delivery of these seminar, through oral presentations and group discussions. The module convener will assign the readings and guide the discussions. During a midway and final seminar, students will have the opportunity to present their ideas for a research proposal informally and to receive feedback from lecturers and fellow students. The first will be marked as formative assessment. the second will be voluntary and unmarked. Both are meant to assist with the preparation of the final assessment.

Private study 152

Each lecture will focus on one topic, explaining key concepts and presenting experimental evidence from a variety of methodologies. These lectures will give the background needed for the weekly article critiques and seminars.


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
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • 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

  • Understand the scientific underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  • Apply multiple perspectives to psychological issues and integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in psychology.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written form.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in oral form.
  • Be computer literate for the purpose of processing and disseminating psychological data and information.
  • Retrieve and organise information effectively.
  • Handle primary source material critically.
  • Engage in effective teamwork for the purpose of collaborating on psychological projects.
  • Use effectively personal planning and project management skills.
  • Work effectively under pressure (time pressure, limited resources, etc) as independent and pragmatic learners.
  • Problem-solve by clarifying questions, considering alternative solutions, making critical judgements, and evaluating outcomes.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Understand and investigate the role of brain function in all human behaviour and experience.
  • Comprehend and use psychological data effectively, demonstrating a systematic knowledge of the application and limitations of various research paradigms and techniques.
  • Employ evidence-based reasoning and examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with the use of different methodologies, paradigms and methods of analysis in psychology.


Resource implications for students

Several copies of the core text will be on short loan in the library. However, purchase is recommended, especially for students who will be taking other neuroscience modules.

Reading list

Core text: Ward, J. (2010 or later edition). The Student Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience. Hove: Psychology Press.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: