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Introduction to forensic speech science



This module introduces the scope, tasks and practices of forensic speech and audio analysis.

By the end of this module students will achieve:

  • an understanding of the theoretical and methodological issues which underpin analysis of speech involved in criminal settings;
  • an understanding of the problems involved in performing suitable analysis where the available materials are difficult and/or sensitive;
  • experience of the practical problems involved in analysis of difficult and sensitive materials;
  • appreciation of ethical issues involved in collecting and analysing criminal data;
  • skills in auditory analysis and digital processing of forensic recordings.



Contact hours

4 contact hours per week: 2 lectures, 2 labs.

Teaching programme

Topics to be covered include:

  • the range of tasks in forensic speech analysis
  • the development of speaker identification, including “voiceprinting”voice line-ups and lay witness evidence
  • transcription of difficult recordings
  • authentication
  • forensic linguistics
  • analysis of speech and language in testing asylum claims
  • handling and processing evidential materials.

Teaching materials

Preliminary readings:

  • Jessen, M. (2008) Forensic phonetics.  Language and Lingustics Compass 2: 671-711.
  • Nolan, F. (2001) Speaker identification evidence: its forms, limitations, and roles. Proceedings of the conference ‘Law and Language: Prospect and Retrospect’, Levi, Finland.

Essential readings will be identified each week. Key readings are available in a course pack or online.



Formative work

  • A lab report

Summative assessment

  • Two lab reports
    • Weight: 25% each
  • 2-hour timed examination
    • Weight: 50%

About this module

  • Module name
    Introduction to forensic speech science
  • Course code
    L17M (LAN00017M)
  • Teacher 
    Paul Foulkes
  • Term(s) taught
  • Credits