Accessibility statement

Phonological development



This module provides an overview of phonetic and phonological development, with an emphasis on the first two years of life. Through a combination of lectures, reading and practical sessions the student becomes acquainted with the findings of both observational and experimental studies of infant speech perception and production and the transition from babbling to speech. Some of the main theoretical approaches to phonological development are considered.

This module will be capped at 35.



Students must have successfully completed:

  •  L09I Intermediate phonetics and phonology

Information for visiting students: Students will be expected to have studied phonetics at an introductory level and to have some acquaintance with the principles of phonological analysis.



Contact hours

Four hours per week, including 3 hours lecture and 1 hour seminar.

Teaching programme

Classes will be split between lectures and practical sessions. In some weeks practical sessions will involve a discussion of readings and in others we will consider data from children and their caretakers. 

In the final two weeks of the term students will form small groups to present one theoretical model each to the rest of the class. This will give you the opportunity to consolidate material that you have learned over the course of the module and to deepen your understanding of theoretical models - since explaining things to others is one of the best ways to learn. This oral exercise will receive formative feedback and will provide, as well, a useful and timely review of the main ideas debated in the field of phonological development.

Teaching materials

  • Vihman, M. M. (2014). Phonological Development: The first two years. (2nd ed.) Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Additional papers will be assigned each week; copies of papers will be made available through the VLE.

Suggestions for reading before the module starts

You can begin by reading the first chapter or two of Vihman 2014.

Assessment and feedback

Assessment and feedback

Feedback on formative work

  • Five formative essays, up to 500 words; assigned in weeks 3, 4, 5, 7, 8; returned within one week with feedback.

Summative assessment and feedback

  • Portfolio of 3 of the formative essays for summative assessment (one rewrite allowed; deadline for rewrite: Thursday noon, week 10, Autumn term)
    • Due: Spring term, Week 1
    • Weight: 25%
  • An open exam during Spring term Week 1
    • Weight: 75%


Transferable skills developed in this module

All modules provide an opportunity to work on general oral/written communication skills (in class and in assessments) and general self management (organising your studies), alongside the specific skills in language or linguistics that the module teaches.

In addition, this module will allow you to particularly develop skills in written communication,which is a special focus of this module, as five essays are required over the course of the eight weeks. Feedback and a mark is provided for each of these formative essays within a week of submission. Written communication will feature in virtually any future work you may want to do; this module will give you a chance to practice expressing yourself clearly, efficiently and persuasively while documenting the evidence on which you base your statements.

Follow this link to hear how past students use transferable skills from their degree in their current jobs.

About this module

  • Module name
    Phonological development
  • Course code
    L24H (LAN00024H)
  • Teacher 
    Marilyn Vihman
  • Term(s) taught
  • Credits