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Advanced Phonetics - LAN00097M

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. James Tompkinson
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module builds on students’ pre-existing knowledge of articulatory phonetics by focusing on the relationship between speech production and the domain of speech acoustics, and the connections between these two areas and human speech perception, based on the ‘speech chain’ model (articulation > acoustics > audition, or alternatively production > propagation > perception). The module is designed to equip students with the ability to reason about speech based on a range of phonetic evidence, via their knowledge of theoretical models (e.g. source-filter theory) as well as their mastery of a number of practical tools. Students are trained to design methods for simple but effective data collection for further analysis, and to apply a variety of relevant analytical methods to their speech materials using dedicated software tools.

Related modules

There are no prerequisite modules, but a solid prior knowledge of articulatory and impressionistic phonetics, including IPA transcription skills, is a requirement. Students who lack training in these areas are likely to struggle with the module content from the very outset.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module aims:

  • to give students an understanding of the acoustics of speech, how speech acoustics relates to production and perception in articulatory terms
  • to equip students with the ability to reason about speech based on a range of phonetic evidence and using theoretical as well as practical tools
  • to equip students with the ability to design simple but effective data collection for further analysis

Module learning outcomes

You will know and understand the essentials of the acoustics of speech, including:

  • Sound as an acoustic and auditory phenomenon
  • The source-filter theory of speech production
  • Acoustic properties of the source and filter
  • Articulation and resonance
  • Common ways of representing speech acoustically: waveforms, spectrograms, spectra, F0 traces
  • Contextual effects on speech sounds (illustrated through English)
  • How the acoustics of speech relates to articulation

You will know and understand the essentials of speech perception, including:

  • The basics of hearing
  • Acoustic cues to speech sounds
  • Categorical perception

You will know and understand some of the issues in data collection, including:

  • Making recordings
  • Sampling in digital recordings
  • Designing materials for recording

By the end of the module, you will be able to do the following things:

  • Reason about speech production and perception, combining articulatory, acoustic and auditory evidence
  • Use software for the acoustic analysis of speech, and to produce images for insertion into documents
  • Design a simple acoustic phonetic study, taking ethics into account
  • Write concise laboratory reports in an appropriately technical style, using correct terminology and notational conventions, and providing graphic images of academic journal-level standard

Module content

Students on the module are initially introduced to basic concepts in acoustics, such as periodic vs. aperiodic sound, resonance, harmonic vibration, acoustic filters, and the principles of Fourier analysis. They will build on this knowledge by exploring the fundamentals of source-filter theory, and by modelling the human vocal tract using the two-tube model. They will create artificial vowel-like sounds using electronic speech synthesis, and will learn to interpret visual displays (pressure waveforms, spectra, spectrograms, formant and F0 traces). They will acquire familiarity with the principles of signal analysis/processing, and by practising with audio capture techniques will come to understand the effects that changes in sampling rate, bit depth, and compression have on the resulting audio quality. In the final part of the module they are introduced to human hearing through learning about the structure and functions of the middle and inner ear, and will gain insights into how incoming audio signals are processed by the auditory cortex, giving rise to phenomena such as categorical perception and speech-related auditory illusions.


Task Length % of module mark
Open Examination: Multiple choice questions online
Advanced Phonetics exam
3 hours 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Open Examination: Multiple choice questions online
Advanced Phonetics resit
3 hours 100

Module feedback

Formative assignments: within 1 week of submission, students receive written individual feedback on their lab reports, as well as generalised verbal feedback to the group as a whole during class time. Comprehensive written guidance notes are also provided via the module VLE site.

Open examination: students are provided with written feedback on their open examination scripts which they can download from e:vision. They are invited to contact the module convener if they would like further verbal feedback on their performance in this part of the assessment. Written guidance notes are also provided on the module VLE site.

Indicative reading

Hewlett, N. & Beck, J.M. (2006). An Introduction to the Science of Phonetics. London: Routledge.

Johnson, K. (2012). Acoustic and Auditory Phonetics, 3rd edn. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Ladefoged, P. (1996). Elements of Acoustic Phonetics, 2nd edn. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Pickett, J.M. (1999). The Acoustics of Speech Communication: Fundamentals, Speech Perception Theory, and Technology. London: Pearson Education.

Raphael, L.J., Borden, G.J. & Harris, K.S. (2012). Speech Science Primer: Physiology, Acoustics, and Perception of Speech, 6th edn. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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.