SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics


Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 2


152900069: General linguistics and/or 152900070: Introduction to Phonology

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of this module, a student should be able to demonstrate a knowledge of the International Phonetic alphabet, have basic skills in phonetic transcription, understand the main principles of articulation, be familiar with the main acoustic properties of the speech signal, and be able to design and perform very simple phonetic experiments.


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a 1 hour lecture and a 1 hour tutorial.

Scope and syllabus

Phonetics is a central part of linguistic study and forms part of our offerings for the undergraduate programme.  This module covers the following:

  • The speech chain; phonetics compared to phonology
  • Principles of transcription; IPA broad transcription of British English
  • Articulation: the organs of speech, vocal anatomy
  • Principles of classificatory description of sounds
    • airstream mechanisms: egressive vs ingressive; pulmonary, glottalic, velaric
    • phonation: modal, breathy, creaky, whisper etc
    • vowels and semivowels
    • place of articulation
    • manner of articulation
    • syllables and suprasegmentals: tones, intonation
  • IPA and narrow transcription of English, other languages, nonsense words, disordered speech
  • Acoustics: Speech pressure waves, sound spectra, spectrograms
  • Acoustic description of vowels and consonants
  • Non-acoustic experimental phonetics: laryngography/EGG, air pressure
  • Making a recording; experimental design, statistics

Method of assessment

An essay of 1,000 words to be submitted on day 1 after reading week in the term in which the module is taught (20%); an essay of 1,000 words to be submitted on day 5, week 10 of the term in which the course is taught (20%); an essay of 2,000 words to be submitted on day 5, week 1 of the term following that in which the course is taught (40%); a 15 minutes practical phonetic transcription and production taken in the last week of the module (20%).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules