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Introduction to Phonetics & Phonology - LAN00009C

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. George Bailey
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

This module introduces students to the study of phonetics and phonology—the study of the sounds and sound patterns of human language.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22

Module aims

This module introduces students to the phonetic and phonological analysis of language, starting with phonetics and moving on to phonology. The phonetics part covers the basics of articulatory and impressionistic phonetics. The phonology part covers the position of phonology within the human linguistic system, recurrent phonological phenomena in the world's languages and the phonological notation most commonly used by linguists.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of this module:

  • You will be familiar with the basic symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet, including all those symbols needed to describe English
  • You will know the terminology appropriate to the description of consonants and vowels, including the parameters of description on the IPA chart
  • You will understand something of the relationship between the sounds of speech and the abstract linguistic system that underlies them, as well as the relationship of phonetics and phonology to the wider linguistic system
  • You will understand the basic structure of sound systems across languages, and the ways in which this is established analytically
  • You will know some of the types of unit that are commonly used in phonology, such as phonemes and features
  • You will be familiar with some common phonological phenomena and formal accounts of them, including a range of notational devices such as rules and hierarchical representation

Behavioural outcomes

At the end of this module:

  • You will be able to recognise many of the sounds of the IPA chart and the parameters along which sounds can vary, and describe them using appropriate terminology and symbolisation
  • You will be able to establish phonological categories on the basis of contrast
  • You will be able to produce simple phonetic descriptions and broad phonetic transcriptions of short stretches of speech
  • You will be able to provide appropriate structural descriptions of syllables using appropriate phonological notation
  • You will be able to compare competing analyses of simple phenomena and evaluate their relative success

Module content

This course is divided into two sessions, covering phonetics then phonology:

Term 1:

Introduction to basic phonetics including anatomy of the vocal tract, sounds in speech, vowels and consonants.

Term 2:

Introduction to phonology including sounds in use, phonological inventories, syllables and phonological patterns.

Term 3:

Revision classes will be used to review topics and provide revision exercises in preparation for the summer term exam.








  • In terms 1-2, you have one lecture and one tutorial every week (tutorials/seminars start from week 3 in terms 1-2).
  • Your private study should include preparation of tutorial/seminar exercises, reading the essential set reading and completion of self-assessment tests on the VLE.
  • Additional ‘backup’ sessions will be offered for students who need some extra tutorial time to prepare for seminars or to clarify the content of lectures and readings.






The Anatomy of Speech



The Sounds of Speech



(no lecture)



From Vowels...



... to Consonants






Sounds in Use






(no lecture)



Phonological Inventories



Phonological Patterns



Revision lectures


5, 6 or 7




Task Length % of module mark
Summative assignment 1
N/A 20
Summative assignment 2
N/A 20
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology
8 hours 60

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative assessment

The course is divided into eight two-week blocks. For each two-week block you are required to complete two types of exercises:

  • Self-assessment tests
    These are on Yorkshare (ie on the VLE) - you complete these at your own pace, but be sure to do the tests for each block of the course before the next block starts; in order to pass this module you must attempt all of the Yorkshare formative tests.
  • Project work
    You will need to work on components of the project throughout term one and two; the project prepares you for submission of summative coursework by the end of Term 2.

These formative assessment tasks will include a variety of activities such as:

  • Exercises in phonetic observation and transcription, using the IPA
  • Exercises in phonological analysis using formal notation where appropriate
  • Exercises which require you to gather, sort and present information from a variety of sources
  • The project tasks require you to use the library to find out the phonetic or phonological properties of a particular language

To help you assess your progress there is an obligatory in-class test which takes place in week one of term two. The test is similar in format to the final exam at the end of the year but only tests those parts of the course that have already been covered.

Summative assessment

  • Two essays
    • Date: due in week 10 of Spring term and week 1 of Summer term
    • Weight: 40%
  • A 90 minute closed exam
    • Date: weeks 5-7, Summer term
    • Weight: 60%


Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Reassessment: Introduction to Phonetics & Phonology
8 hours 100

Module feedback

Feedback within four weeks of submission.

Indicative reading

For the phonetics part of the course in the Autumn Term, readings are set each week from the following book:

  • Ogden, Richard (2017) An introduction to English phonetics. 2nd edition. Edinburgh University Press.
    • Although there are copies of this book in the library you are strongly advised to buy a copy for your own personal use.
    • You may see copies for sale of the first edition of this book, published in 2009. If you want to buy second hand then it is fine to get the 2009 edition, but if you want to invest in a new book we recommend you get the 2017 edition.

For the phonology part of the course in the Spring Term, readings are set each week from the following book:

  • Nathan, G. (2008). Phonology: a cognitive grammar introduction. John Benjamins.
    • The book is available as an ebook via the university library, or for short term loan from the library Key Texts, so you do not need to buy a copy.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.