Phonetics 1: Introductory Concepts ENGLANG4048

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Speech is created by shaping vibrations in air as it travels from a speaker's lungs to a listener's ear. This course explores how these vibrations are transformed into meaningful sound, covering phonetics from three perspectives: 1) Articulatory: how do we use our vocal tracts to create and shape airflow for speech? 2) Acoustic: what are the physical properties of the vibrating air as it travels through our vocal tract? and 3) Phonological: What are the systematic patterns of sound that result, which we understand as speech? You will discover the diversity of sounds used in the world's languages, including your own, and you will learn key phonetic analytical skills which will enable you to carry out your own phonetic, sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic studies in English Language and Linguistics.


Eight x 2-hr lectures; Eight x2hr practical sessions (comprising 1x1hr workshop; 1x1hr follow-up guided independent study) as scheduled on MyCampus as scheduled on MyCampus.


This is one of the Honours options in English Language and Linguistics and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into English Language and Linguistics, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses

ENGLANG4030 Phonetics and Phonology




Examination (90 minutes) - 50%

Essay (1,000 words) - 20%

Speech transcription task - 20%

Mini powerpoint presentation of 3 minutes duration on one speech sound - 10%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■ learn about the operational capabilities of the vocal tract;

■ carry out detailed study of auditory, articulatory and acoustic aspects of phonetics;

■ develop practical skills of identifying and transcribing speech sounds, also using mainstream speech analysis software;

■ learn how to present information about segmental phonetics to others.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ outline some key respiratory, phonatory and articulatory possibilities of the vocal tract in speech;

■ explain and apply some key terms and concepts in the phonetic analysis of speech;

■ summarize, illustrate and critically evaluate current theoretical approaches to phonetics;

■ identify and transcribe various forms of English speech sounds.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.