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The Prosody of English - LAN00017H

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Sam Hellmuth
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

Prosody is the 'music of speech' taking in phenomena such as stres, rhythm and intonation. A hallmark of this module is that we study these aspects of English in data from naturally occurring conversations, using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, and taking account of different theoretical approaches to the subject.


Students must have successfully completed:

  • L09C Introduction to phonetics and phonology (LAN00009C)

Also, at least 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.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

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.

Module learning outcomes

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.

Module content

Contact hours

Three hours per week over 8 weeks, of which:

  • 1 hour lecture 
  • 1 hour practical work
  • 1 hour seminar

Teaching programme

The module is taught through lectures/practicals/seminars, in two 4-week blocks:

  • A: data analysis skills (acoustic analysis of f0/intonational transcription)
  • B: theories of prosodic analysis (comparing different approaches to prosody) and current topics in the prosody of English

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.


Task Length % of module mark
Open Exam (7-day week)
Open Exam
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Open Exam (7-day week)
Open Exam
N/A 100

Module 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 10 working days of submission in the form of whole-class feedback on common errors and brief individual written feedback.

Summative assessment and feedback

Students will receive individual written feedback within 20 working days of submission.

Indicative reading

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

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.