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Unit information: Psychology of Language in 2018/19

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 2C (weeks 13 - 18)
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

On successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  1. Illustrate the field of language processing by distinguishing language from auditory and visual cognitive ability
  2. Analyse contemporary issues and apply different methodological approaches to the study of language processing
  3. Summarise the relevance and role of language processing within an evolutionary framework for cognition and behaviour
  4. Explain the application of basic speech acoustics to the study of language
  5. Demonstrate the brain regions related to language processing on a brain map

Teaching details

This unit comprises lectures and tutorials.

Assessment Details

One 1600 word essay (30%) and one 2 hour exam (70%).

Reading and References

Essential None


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

Additional suggestions for recommended and further reading will be made separately through Blackboard