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Module QXL-3325:
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 deeper understanding of how to conduct research in phonetics. The module will focus on phonetic transcription, acoustic phonetics and the experimental investigation of speech production. It aims to provide students with information on a selection of techniques for transcribing and analysing spoken language, allowing the student to make sense of speech data collected in the field or in a laboratory.

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 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,
- 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


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 or most 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 advanced 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; 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 demonstrate skills in recognising, transcribing and analysing a range of speech sounds.

  2. Students will understand how speech sounds are produced and perceived in isolation and in running speech.

  3. Students will be aware of the theory and techniques underlying the acoustic analysis of speech.

  4. Students will know how to collect and analyse speech data.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ORAL Group presentation

In groups, students will design a poster on the data collection for the module, and give a 10 minute group presentation to the class on it

REPORT Research Report

Students will collect and analyse their own data and write it up as a 3000 word research report.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

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.


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


One 1-hour seminar/practical per fortnight 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.


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
  • 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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 of the nature and organization of language - students will demonstrate familiarity with observations and findings relating to various aspects of linguistic phenomena and organization.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: