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Unit information: Psychology of Language in 2016/17

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Psychology of Language
Unit code PSYC31051
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Professor. Damian
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Psychological Science
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


This course is a comprehensive overview of the perceptual and cognitive mechanisms involved in language acquisition, comprehension and production. A major aim of this unit is to sensitise students to the fact that, although seemingly effortless, language activities require a great deal of complex and fast mental computation. In keeping with recent advances in behavioural neuroscience, the neuro-anatomical substrates of language functions will also be examined. The unit will cover the following topics: language and evolution, language and thought, lexical semantics, spoken production, spoken perception, sentence processing, reading, bilingualism, neuroscience of language and aphasiology.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate an insight into how language processing differs from, and to what extent it overlaps with, related auditory and visual cognitive abilities. They should be able to discuss current controversies regarding attempts to place language within an evolutionary framework. Moreover, students will master basic notions in speech acoustics and they will be able to identify the areas controlling language on a brain map.

Teaching details

This unit comprises 18 x 1 hour lectures and tutorials.

Assessment Details

Summative assessment with one 1600 word essay (30%) and one 2 hour exam (70%).

Reading and References


  • Traxler, M. J. (2011). Introduction to Psycholinguistics: Understanding language science. Wiley Backwell. P37 TRA. Electronic copy available on UoB library website.


  • Altmann, G. T. M. (1997). The ascent of Babel: An exploration of language, mind and understanding. Oxford: Oxford University Press. P37 ALT
  • Gaskell, M. G. (2007). The Oxford handbook of psycholinguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. BS455 OXF
  • Harley, T.A. (2014). The psychology of language: From data to theory (4th edition). Hove, England: Psychology Press. P37 HAR
  • Pinker, S. (1994). The language instinct. New York: Harper Collins. P106 PIN
  • Traxler, M. J. & Gernsbacher, M. A. (2006). Handbook of psycholinguistics. London: Elsevier. P37 HAN