Module PLP-3007:
Bilingualism: Lang, Cog & Lit

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Overall aims and purpose

To be bilingual is to juggle words and grammatical structures derived from either language in order to express a single concept or meaning. This module will provide an overview of how bilinguals operate in two languages, and how doing so can alter cognitive function. We will also examine how bilinguals decode alphabetic scripts according to rules governed by either language.

This module aims to provide you with a solid grounding in the experimental methods used to study bilingualism, including neuroscientific and behavioural methods. It therefore contains interesting and often counter-intuitive research findings, but framed in technical and sometimes challenging methodology.

Course content

Lectures 1-3 will cover language acquisition in bilinguals: how do children and adults acquire and deal with two languages? Lectures 4-5 will cover language comprehension and production in (adult) bilinguals, both in spoken and written language. Lectures 7-9 will cover memory and cognitive consequences of bilingualism, as well as how bilinguals learn literacy. Lectures 10-11 will cover the neuroscientific and clinical issues surrounding bilingualism.

Lectures will cover a range of methods, but will mostly focus on experimental paradigms.

Assessment Criteria


Adequate work, largely based on lecture material and essential reading. No real development of arguments, critical evaluation or evidence of further study beyond core materials. Adequate structure and organisation of ideas. Work matching these criteria would generally result in the C grade range, although D grades may be awarded if elements of inaccurate information/evidence of misunderstanding are contained in the answer, or if the answer omits one or two key points or fails to sufficiently expand on key points. Fail grades would be awarded if answers contain many inaccuracies/misunderstandings/omissions of key points


Reasonably comprehensive coverage. Well organised and structured. Clear evidence of a good understanding of the material, and that a greater understanding of the lecture material and core tests had been achieved due to some further reading. Some evidence of critical evaluation and discussion. Work matching these criteria would generally result in grades in the B range


Comprehensive and accurate coverage of the subject area, clarity of argument and expression. Work demonstrates a depth of insight into theoretical issues, and it clear that this was achieved through relevant further and additional reading. Appropriate critical evaluation of evidence and discussion of material supported all answers. Work matching this criteria would generally encompass the A range of grades.

Learning outcomes

  1. Show an understanding of neuroscientific and clinical issues in bilingualism.

  2. Present a research article. Demonstrate critical analysis of the material.

  3. Demonstrate an ability to provide constructive feedback of others’ presentations.

  4. Discuss the literature and main findings on bilingual comprehension and production processes, both in spoken and written language.

  5. Compare and contrast the main ideas concerning bilingual language acquisition and show an understanding of the issues and debates pertaining to acquisition.

  6. Understand and describe the cognitive consequences of bilingualism.

Assessment Methods

Teaching and Learning Strategy


FEEDBACK SESSIONS: To support weekly lectures, students may voluntarily attend two-hour weekly drop-in sessions which will run in the lecturer's office. Students may attend sessions if they require support with regard to any aspect of the course, but may especially want to focus on asking questions about preparing for the midterm and final exams, seeking feedback with regard to their understanding of key content, developing critical evaluation skills, and prospective and retrospective exam performance. Sessions will be student-led so that students have the opportunity to receive feedback specific to their own progress and achievement. Students should note that during feedback sessions the lecturer will neither cover new content nor summarise entire lectures that students may have missed.

Private study

Students should expect to complete 155 hours of self-study in order to achieve the learning outcomes for this module. Self-study will take the form of essential (+ further and additional) reading, and preparation for exams. In addition to attending classes and voluntary feedback sessions (as required), students should be spending 8-12 hours each week during term-time engaging in reading and revision for this module


Weekly 2 hour lectures will run in Weeks 5-10 and 12-16. In addition a one hour revision session will run in Week 11 to prepare students for the midterm and final exams


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.
  • 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
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

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.
  • 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.
  • Use a range of statistical methods with confidence.
  • 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.
  • Be aware of ethical principles and approval procedures.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: