The module will provide students with an understanding of the topics across the field of forensic linguistics, with a principal focus on the analysis of written texts that are of evidential significance (most particularly in the form of author profiling – where the author of a text is unknown – or author comparison, where a questioned sample of writing is compared against a sample written by a known author).
Areas to be covered include authorship analysis and attribution, plagiarism detection, forgery, and impersonation; there will also be sections on language crimes, forensic corpus linguistics, language analysis in the asylum process, trademark law, language rights, and language in the courtroom (courtroom discourse, translation/interpreting, etc.). The characteristics of legal language will also be touched upon, as will forensic phonetics and discrimination based upon linguistic behaviour.
At the end of the module, students will:
This module will be capped at 35.
Students must have successfully completed:
4 contact hours per week (2 hr lecture, 2 hr practical).
Classes are a mix of lectures and practical sessions based on the analysis of forensic language data. Towards the end of the Spring term, students will give group presentations during class time.
We will explore topics at the interface between the linguistic and the legal domains, with a focus on language crimes and the forensic analysis of written texts. The module is intended as a complement to E/L05H Forensic Phonetics, and will only touch briefly upon issues that are the concern of forensic speech scientists. An interest in law and/or forensic psychology may be an advantage, but is not a requirement.
1000-word short report.
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, the forensic analysis of written texts requires excellent observational, critical and problem-solving skills, and necessitates the application of knowledge from across a diversity of linguistic subdisciplines (syntax, phonology, lexis, sociolinguistics, etc.). The practical sessions will involve mastery of key functions of software tools used by practitioners and researchers in forensic linguistics, and will encourage students to develop their abilities in working with potentially very large qualitative and quantitative datasets. Via the preparation and delivery of the group presentation, students will be given the opportunity to enhance their teamwork and presentation skills, both of which are critically important in the majority of professional occupations.
Follow this link to hear how past students use transferable skills from their degree in their current jobs.
About this module
- Module name
- Course code
- Term(s) taught