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Unit information: General Linguistics in 2018/19

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Unit name General Linguistics
Unit code MODL20016
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. James Hawkey
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The field of Linguistics studies human languages with an aim to understand their underlying structures and principles, both within any given language and comparatively across related and unrelated languages. In this unit we will study Language, i.e. the cognitive system steering the processing of linguistic in- and outputs of our native and any foreign languages we use, by learning about principal analytical tools in the fields of phonology, morphology, and syntax. We will draw on examples from a wide range of languages, though principally from European ones, including English. Students will learn how to analyse complex utterances and divide them up into meaningful units, and compare similarities and differences across languages.


The unit aims to

  • introduce students to the formal aspects of linguistic description and analysis
  • develop an understanding of the differences between language as a means of communication and a formal system of interacting components
  • gain an overview of the field of systemic linguistics and its practical applications
  • inspire students to work further, and independently, in this and other fields
  • enhance students’ foreign language skills, close reading skills and powers of analysis, research and presentation.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, successful students will be able to demonstrate:

  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the key principles of sophisticated technical analysis of Language and languages as systems
  • critical skills appropriate to Level I through an awareness of cross-linguistics similarities and differences
  • understanding of how languages other than those they are already familiar with operate as linguistic systems
  • skills in presenting information and arguments in a structured form, both orally and in writing, at a standard appropriate to level I.

Teaching details

1 x 1 hour weekly seminars and 1 x 1 hour weekly lectures.

Assessment Details

one 2000 word essay and one 2 hour exam (50%/50%) testing ILO's 1-4

Reading and References

Poole, Stuart. 1999. An Introduction to Linguistics. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

Fromkin, Victoria et al. 2007. An Introduction to Language. Boston: Wadsworth.