UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Phonetics and Phonology

Module Aims

• To familiarise students with phonetic and phonological levels of linguistic description, covering the analysis, articulation and classification of speech sounds and prosodic patterns (phonetics), and their systematic use in spoken language (phonology).

• To develop practical phonetic skills of speech sound perception, production and representation, using symbolic transcription.

• To provide opportunities for students to practise the phonetic transcription of normal, pseudo-disordered and disordered speech (e.g., speech of people with hearing impairment, speech production impairment).

• To develop awareness of how acoustic phonetic approaches to the analysis of speech sounds can support articulatory and auditory analysis through hands-on lab sessions.

• To familiarise students with the study of speech production, in particular the structure and function of the vocal tract and respiration, voice quality.

• To develop an understanding of the sources of variation in speech and how these might affect clinical assessment of speech and language pathology. 

Module Contents


  • Introduction to general principles of phonetic description and analysis, including: outline of speech production mechanisms; the larynx in speech; consonant classification (English and non-English); vowel classification (English and non-English); airstream mechanisms.
  • Introduction to basic principles of acoustic phonetic analysis as related to voice quality, consonant classification and vowel classification
  • Introduction to the basic principles of phonology, including: the use of sounds to make linguistic contrasts (phonemes); non-contrastive variation of sounds depending on context (allophones); types of transcription (phonetic vs. phonemic).
  • A more detailed study of English phonology, including: phonemes/allophones; syllable structure; stress and intonation; patterns of connected speech; aspects of social and regional variation.
  • Phonetics and pathological speech.
  • Regional and social variation in speech (i.e., basic Sociolinguistics).


Practical Phonetics:

  • Training will be given in the production, auditory perception and symbolic representation of a wide range of speech sounds and pitch patterns, primarily using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

Great importance is attached to the acquisition of practical phonetic skills, including the accurate transcription of adult English speech, of child speech and of disordered speech.


Coursework assignment (part 1 & 2) 30%
Practical phonetics: oral exam 30%
Practical phonetics: dictation exam 40%