Accessibility statement

Prosody of English



To introduce students to the main topics of prosody in spoken English, drawing on both phonetics and phonology, and to equip students with the knowledge and ability to analyse prosodic aspects of spoken English both phonetically and phonologically.

At the end of this module students will have an understanding of the main elements of the prosody of English:

  • Intonation, timing and rhythm
  • The relationship of prosodic aspects of speech to other aspects generally known as segmental
  • Some of the kinds of functions served by prosodic aspects of speech in English
  • The phonological treatment of prosodic aspects of speech
  • Various methods for measuring prosodic aspects of speech and the problems associated with them

At the end of this module students will be able to analyse data first-hand using a tool for the instrumental analysis of speech and present their own analyses of data of various types and qualities to a high standard.

This module will be capped at 35.



Students must have successfully completed:

  • L09C Introduction to phonetics and phonology (LAN00009C)

Also, one of:

  • E01C Understanding English Grammar (LAN00001C)
  • L09I Intermediate phonetics and phonology (LAN00009I)

Information for visiting students: The teaching of this module assumes that students are already familiar with the basics of phonetics (including acoustic phonetics) and phonological analysis (including structural notions such as the syllable and foot). Students on this module need to be willing to learn how to use acoustic analysis software. If you are in any doubt about whether you have an appropriate background for this module, contact the module convenor.



Contact hours

Two hours per week over 12 weeks, of which:

  • 1 hour lecture or seminar
  • 1 hour practical work

Teaching programme

The module is taught through lectures/practicals/seminars, in four x 3-week blocks:

  • A: basic quantitative analysis of prosody (acoustic analysis of f0) 
  • B: basic qualitative analysis of prosody (intonational transcription)
  • C: theories of prosodic analysis (comparing different approaches to prosody)
  • D: current topics in the prosody of English

Teaching materials

Readings will be made available via the VLE (or optionally for purchase as a reading pack).

Assessment and feedback

Assessment and feedback

Feedback on formative work

There are a number of formative homework exercises for completion during the module. Students receive feedback on each of these within one week of submission in the form of whole-class feedback on common errors and brief individual written feedback.

Summative assessment and feedback

  • An open exam made available on Monday and submitted on Friday of week 5 of the summer term.
    • Weight: 100%
    • The open exam will consist of a series of short analytic reports on one or more pieces of data, containing the results of analyses which demonstrate the student's: 
      • Ability to use appropriate terminology
      • Ability to present instrumental analyses of speech according to the norms of the discipline
      • Understanding of the functions of prosodic aspects of speech
      • Understanding of the relevant background literature
    • Students will receive individual written feedback within four weeks of submission.


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 to these, this module will allow you to particularly develop skills in the application of IT/numeracy skills. You will learn how to use acoustic analysis software (Praat) to measure pitch, how to interpret those measurements and how to relate the results of quantitative acoustic analysis to qualitative intonational analysis of the same data.

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

About this module

  • Module name
    Prosody of English
  • Course code
    E/L17H (LAN00017H)
  • Teacher
    Sam Hellmuth
  • Term(s) taught
  • Credits