UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Linguistic and Psychological Perspectives

Module Aims

• To develop students’ understanding of the main properties of human language.

• To familiarise students with concepts and terms that are essential to their understanding of how language functions, how it is acquired and how it can be impaired.

• To present the typical sequence of language and psychological development.

• To consider atypical development of language and cognition.

• To examine linguistic and psychological theories of direct relevance to speech and language development and their disorders.

• To develop students’ critical evaluation of research methods in linguistics and developmental psychology.

• To develop students’ ability to apply their knowledge of relevant theoretical constructs when describing and analysing clinical language data.

• To enable students to construct and interpret theoretically grounded clinical tasks for the assessment and treatment of language impairments.

• To link theoretical issues presented in this module with clinical issues presented in Management of Communication Disorders 1: Language and Cognition (developmental).

Module Contents

Language as a rule governed system. Syntactic categories: syntactic vs. functional categories.

Building words: inflectional and derivational morphology. Putting words together: sentence structure. Argument structure and thematic role assignment. Complex structures: questions, relative clauses, passives. How to analyse language in and out of the clinic.

Theories of language acquisition; Role of input in language development; Pre-linguistic speech; Within-word phonology; First words and one-word utterances; Two-word utterances; Emergence of grammatical morphemes; Syntactic Development; Tapping comprehension; Implications of patterns of development for processes of development.

Development of play; Development of attention control; Infancy; Cognitive development: Development of memory; Social and emotional development; Development of personality; Theory of mind; Development of numeracy; Genetics of language development and disorder.


Data exercise 60% 

Written examination 40%