Accessibility statement

Language & Thought - PSY00054H

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  • Department: Psychology
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Asifa Majid
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2021-22

Module aims

What is the relationship between the language we speak and the way we think? Humans are unique not only for having language, but for using over 6,500 distinct languages. Does this variation mean that people who speak different languages think differently about the world? Or is language merely a medium by which we express our thoughts? And what kind of thinking can babies and other animals do without language? This class will explore how languages differ, and the consequences language variation has for how people perceive, remember, and reason.

Module learning outcomes

  • Describe the different ways language could affect thinking
  • Describe the approaches used to investigate the relationship between language and thought
  • Illustrate how languages differ from one another
  • Synthesise the literature and develop reasoned arguments from a range of sources
  • Give evidence as to whether the language someone speaks affects the way they think

Module content

  1. Why did language evolve?
  2. Do colour categories exist without language?
  3. Is music perception influenced by the language we speak?
  4. Do you remember smells better if you can name them?
  5. Does language meddle with spatial thinking?
  6. Do you need language to think about numbers?
  7. How does gender in language affect reasoning about gender in society?
  8. Do we need language to think?


Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam
Language & Thought
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam
Language & Thought
N/A 100

Module feedback

Marks will be released through e:vision.

Indicative reading

Majid, A. (2018). Language and cognition. In International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.

Boroditsky, L. (2010). Lost in Translation. Wall Street Journal. July 24, 2010.

Wolff, P., & Holmes, K. J. (2011). Linguistic relativity. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 2(3), 253–265.

Malt, B. C., & Majid, A. (2013). How thought is mapped into words. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 4(6), 583–597.

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.