SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics

Psychology of Language (Masters)

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Term 2
This course examines the psychological and cognitive mechanisms which underlie the acquisition and function of human language. It addresses questions such as: Is there such a thing as a Language Instinct? Why is learning a new language easier for children than for adults? What processes are involved in the production and comprehension of language? How are the various aspects of language knowledge and use modelled in the brain? What is the relationship between language, thought and concept formation? Students will be introduced to the theories, methodology and controversies relating to some of the central topics in psycholinguistics: concepts and lexical semantics, language and other specialised cognitive systems (mathematical ability, vision, face recognition, etc.), sentence production and processing, language disorders, language acquisition and second language learning.


152900069: General Linguistics or equivalent standard.  Please see the course outline for the standard of knowledge of linguistics required for this course.  The course convenor may be contacted for further information.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

This course examines the cognitive mechanisms which underlie the acquisition and function of Human Language concentrating on linguistic theories and research methods concerned with the acquisition and learning of languages and with language disorder (aphasias). On completion of this course the student should have grasp of the main issues relating to these fields of research, and to have developed an understanding of the processes and problems involved in the acquisition of a second language.


Total of 11 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week.

Method of assessment

This course is assess by a 5,000 word essay.

Suggested reading

A comprehensive reading list will be made available at the beginning of the course.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules