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BA Hons Linguistics and Psychology

Mode of Study: Full Time Department: Psychology
UCAS Code: CQ81 Duration/Length: 3 Year(s)
QAA Subject Benchmark: Psychology Director of Studies: Dr SD Kirkham
Total Credit Points: 360 Credit Points Year 2: 120
Credit Points Year 3: 120

Educational Aims: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • There are strong and long standing academic and professional links between Linguistics and Psychology. Language is the most distinctively human of all human cognitive faculties. The interdisciplinary sub-discipline of psycholinguistics which studies language acquisition and language processing brings together researchers in the two disciplines. This degree scheme not only gives students the opportunity of exploring the academic aspects of language and the mind but also prepares our graduates for careers such as Speech and Language Therapy and Cognitive Science which draw on the two disciplines.


    Linguistics component:

    The Department of Linguistics and English Language has an outstanding reputation as a centre of excellence in teaching and broad based research in the fields of theoretical and applied linguistics as well as English language studies. The Department aims to provide all students with high quality teaching, drawing on its excellence in scholarship and research. Teaching and learning are based on a wide-ranging understanding of the discipline. 


    The overall teaching and learning aims of this programme are:


    To offer high quality teaching, informed by staff research, which helps students realise their creative and academic potential, whether they are studying for personal development, further study, or employment in a broad range of areas;


    To develop student's subject specific, cognitive, and transferable skills through a variety of learning environments and modes of assessment;


    To develop students’ understanding of the scientific method (including notions such as replicability and falsifiability) and its place within Linguistics;


    To enable students to engage not only with narrowly theoretical debates about linguistics but also with debates about language in the wider context of cognition, education, foreign language learning and teaching, literature, contemporary society, and so on;


    To encourage students in thinking critically and independently about theoretical as well as applied linguistic issues;


    To equip students to engage with a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives within linguistics and to be able to apply their general understanding to real world examples;


    To generate a broad understanding of the range of linguistic areas of investigation by offering a wide range of substantive topics from which students can choose;  


    To provide students additionally with an understanding of the structure of the language;


    To develop a range of analytical skills appropriate for the study of different aspects of language;


    To provide a general appreciation of the socially constituted and embedded nature of linguistic practices and institutions;


    To develop a lasting fascination with the nature of language, its place in the mind, and its place in human society;


    To enhance student internationalisation and employability;


    To students realise their creative and academic potential.

    Psychology component:

    Psychology is an empirical science that aims to understand how and why humans and non-human animals act in the ways they do. The discipline spans studies of basic neural mechanisms to analyses of complex human relationships. Psychology's methods of enquiry have developed from philosophy, biology and other natural, social and mathematical sciences. Psychology is a broad subject area that attempts to analyse and explain behaviour in a systematic, reproducible way. There is a strong emphasis on the relationship between theory and empirical data, with results that have applications in education, health, industry and commerce and other situations.



    Subject Specific: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills


    In sum, the degree aims to:


    Offer students a thorough grounding in key areas of contemporary psychology.


    Provide students with the opportunity to study in depth important areas of psychology that are taught by staff who are research active in those areas.


    Offer students a range of different learning environments and forms of assessment.


    Enable students to formulate, investigate, analyse and evaluate psychological questions.


    Give students the opportunity to acquire the intellectual and practical skills required for postgraduate study in psychology.



    General: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills


    Develop numeracy and analytic skills that can contribute to success in a range of future careers.


    Develop students' skills when communicating in different formats, such as written reports and reviews, essays, posters, press releases, and oral presentations, and to communicate more effectively in general.


    Enhance students' ability to work as part of a group on different kinds of problems.


    Improve students' organisation of their time and their ability to work and learn independently.

Learning Outcomes: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • The Linguistics elements of the combined degree contain extensive training in the empirical, analytical and critical techniques used for the study of all aspects of human language. The Psychology element of the degree inculcates a high level of argument, quantitative skills and rigorous analytical abilities within that subjects traditional frame of reference.




    Subject specific knowledge, understanding and skills


    On successful completion of the course, students will be able to:




    Demonstrate an understanding of the central concepts in linguistic theory and analysis and their application to the description of the structures of the world’s languages;




    Think critically and independently about linguistics, accessing and analysing relevant data and applying relevant theories and methodologies;




    Demonstrate general computer literacy, and where appropriate, specific computer skills relating to a sub-discipline such as phonetics or corpus linguistics;




    Demonstrate a good grasp of quantitative and/or qualitative research methods appropriate for carrying out investigations in at least one area of language study;




    Demonstrate an ability to link theoretical and methodological issues with substantive areas of linguistic inquiry.






    General: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills


    On successful completion of this scheme of study, students will be able to:




    Summarise and compare conceptually based theoretical arguments;




    Assimilate, summarise and critically analyse information from taught material and independent reading;




    Communicate ideas to others, make presentations based on prepared material and participate effectively in small group discussions




    Employ library and IT resources effectively in the preparation of written work;




    Work independently and carry out independent research under supervision and guidance; 




    Work as part of a team;




    Manage their time effectively;




    Understand the status of empirical evidence and be able to demonstrate an understanding of different methodologies. 


    Subject Specific: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills


    Graduates with Honours will be able to:


    Demonstrate knowledge of key theories, findings and methods in core areas of psychology including cognitive psychology, physiological psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology, individual differences, and appropriate contemporary forms of data analysis.


    Describe and evaluate diverse psychological methods, theories, and evidence.


    Generate, explore, and develop hypotheses and research questions.


    Carry out empirical studies drawing on a variety of psychological methods


    Use quantitative and qualitative methods to analyse data from psychological investigations.


    Present and evaluate research findings.


    Plan, conduct and report a substantial piece of independent empirical research including: defining a research problem, formulating testable predictions, choosing appropriate methods, planning and conducting data gathering, demonstrating an awareness of the ethical issues and codes of ethics, evaluating data, and producing a professional report.


    Employ evidence-based reasoning when presenting, interpreting and evaluating psychological research.


    Use some psychological tools such as experimental software and psychometric instruments.


    Discuss primary research literatures in currently active areas of psychological research.



    General: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills


    Graduates with Honours will be able to:


    Communicate effectively orally, graphically, and in writing.


    Interpret and use both quantitative and qualitative data effectively.


    Critically interrogate data, ideas, and the relationships between them.


    Use standard computer packages including at least one statistical package.


    Demonstrate the ability to plan their work, meet deadlines and manage their time effectively.


    Problem-solve including identifying and posing problems, considering alternative solutions and evaluating outcomes.


    Learn independently including the ability to seek out, retrieve, analyse and synthesise information.


    Engage in effective teamwork showing sensitivity to contextual and interpersonal factors.

Learning and Teaching Strategies and Methods: Knowledge, Understanding, Skills

  • Psychology component:

    The general structure of the standard Psychology degree is one that goes from an emphasis on breadth of knowledge and understanding to an emphasis on depth with an accompanying increase in emphasis on critical evaluation. In years 1 and 2 of the degree, students are introduced to those areas of psychology that are identified by the department and by the British Psychological Society (BPS) as key areas of modern psychology. By the end of second year, students have covered all these key areas and have a good grounding in modern psychology. In third year, students have some choice over which areas they will pursue further, as well as the opportunity to study areas of psychology that are more specialised. In addition, in third year students complete an individual research project supervised by an academic member of staff. Employability skills are embedded in the degree and explored with students.

    Students are taught using a mixture of lectures, seminars and practicals. For most modules, lectures form the backbone of the teaching and are supported by small group (15 students) seminar teaching providing students with opportunities to test their understanding, evaluate psychological theories and investigations, and develop their communication skills. In both the first and second year there is also a structured programme of practicals that allows students hands-on experience of conducting psychological research but also provides opportunities for students to work in small groups and to practice their skills in data analysis and data presentation.

    There is an increasing emphasis on independent learning as students progress through their degree. This is reflected in the contact hours which, in line with university guidelines, decrease across years 1 to 3 with the expectation that students engage in more independent study. This shift places more emphasis on students taking responsibility for their time management, though academic teaching staff continue to provide guidance on study activities outside contact hours. For example, n year 1, investigations in practicals are typically stipulated by the teaching staff, in year 2 there is opportunity to develop their own studies in areas identified by the academic staff, in year 3 students will complete a research project supervised by a member of staff.



    Linguistics component:

    The Department's aim is to integrate learning and teaching with the research culture of the department.


    At Part I, students cover a range of introductory topics. These include basic skills for analysing language (orthographic and phonetic transcription, basic morphological and syntactic analysis); a survey of language and linguistics including linguistic analysis and theory (phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics), language acquisition and loss, writing systems, language families and language death. This course provides a foundation for the more advanced Level 2 and Level 3 (second and third year) courses. 



    At Part II, in four of the core courses of the degree programme, students learn more theoretical and analytical techniques used in theoretical linguistics (with an emphasis on phonetics, phonology, syntax and semantics). In the fifth obligatory course, which involves the writing of the final-year dissertation, they are also introduced to key research methodologies in linguistics. In optional courses offered within the Department students have the opportunity of studying language more broadly by exploring a range of topics in language studies (grammar, phonetics and phonology, stylistics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, language evolution, language change and the history of English, corpus linguistics, forensic linguistics and educational linguistics). Also, students may enrol on modules up to 60 credits in other departments (as a minor).


     The broad range of courses available offers students the opportunity to learn from those actively engaged in linguistic research, as most of the courses reflect staff research interests. The level of choice allows students to develop their interests around a number of substantive linguistic themes. A key strategy is to encourage independent learning and a critical awareness of theoretical and real world linguistic issues and the ability to think as linguists.


    Weekly lectures provide students with a basic framework for understanding the issues raised by the course material. Independent study and the ability to discuss ideas with others is facilitated by interactive, student-oriented seminars of groups of up to 15. Course material includes outlines and lecture handouts. Course outlines provide information about intended learning outcomes, the aims of the course, a list of lecture and seminar topics and a reading list. Lecture handouts indicate the main points of lectures, suggested detailed reading, and usually include material for the associated seminar. Independent learning and researching and preparing for lectures, seminars and assessments are an integral part of the learning experience.


    Students’ IT skills are developed via the use of a variety of software tools for linguistic analysis.


    Students’ employability is enhanced via the provision of annual careers sessions, delivered by Careers personnel. In addition, our departmental Careers Adviser organises careers-related talks by guest speakers, who may or may not be alumni. In addition, the Careers Adviser undertakes the promotion and management of the so-called SPRINT internships, which are paid summer internships run by the department, in which one or two students every year gain some experience working for one month as a research assistant for a member of the department.


Assessment Strategy and Methods: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • Psychology component:

    Students are summatively assessed using a combination of coursework and exams on most modules. Students encounter a wide variety of assessment methods including multiple choice questions (via paper or web), short answer questions, critical reviews, standard essays, posters, practical reports, oral presentations and a project report. Web-based assessments are used in first year and link to seminars and practicals. They serve not only to continuously assess students but to give them ongoing feedback on their performance on the course and to help them consolidate their learning. Such assessments are also used on the second year statistics module.


    In line with the structure of the degree, assessments move from an emphasis on breadth of knowledge and understanding to a greater emphasis on depth of knowledge, understanding and critical analysis. For example, first year exams are a mix of multiple choice questions and essays, second year exams typically consist of short answer questions and essays while final year exams are usually essay based.


    Linguistics component:

    Testing of knowledge and understanding is achieved through a combination of assessment methods. In Part I this is by tests, essays and an exam. Part II courses are normally assessed by one coursework assignment per term and a final exam, weighted in the ratio 40% coursework to 60% exam. In some courses, a proportion of the coursework mark is allocated to assessed presentations, usually prepared in small groups. A few modules also have a class test, which counts towards the 40% normally reserved for coursework. Part II modules thus employ a fairly wide range of assessment modes, ensuring that students will typically experience a variety of assessment methods.


    Essays and other written assignments require independent research, use of library skills and the attainment of in-depth subject specific knowledge. Students are expected to demonstrate an ability to synthesise their reading into a coherent argument, make appropriate use of evidence and draw on relevant theoretical and conceptual issues in order to produce an answer that will demonstrate a degree of independent analytical thinking and critical judgement.


    Assessed  group work gives students an opportunity to develop their team-working and time management skills. In addition, presentations generally, whether individual or collaborative, enable the students to develop their ability to convey information and ideas to audiences in an engaging and competent manner.  Students will simultaneously develop their confidence as speakers.


    Examinations (all of which are unseen, except that in a few cases a text is available in advance or the questions are published amongst a number of 'decoy' questions) are designed to test conceptual elements. In addition to most of the transferable skills fostered by essay writing, formal exams provide experience of single-minded concentration, critical time-management preparation skills, and working under pressure. At Part I the exam is used to check that students have developed sufficient knowledge and skills to enable them to proceed profitably to Part II. In years 2 and 3 the exams contribute directly to the classification of the degree awarded, and their purpose is to check that students are able to assemble the knowledge and skills required to solve problems or discuss issues at the level expected of those awarded undergraduate degrees in Linguistics.



    All our Linguistics joint majors must write a dissertation (the LING301 module) worth 30 credits in their final year. (This dissertation is optional for joint majors with other departments.) In addition to most of the transferable skills fostered by essay writing, dissertations promote the development of independent learning skills including: the ability to formulate original questions about an issue, collecting and managing original data, the ability to write in detail on a particular topic, developing and sustaining an argument, and presenting a detailed report according to the conventions of academic prose and referencing. While typical dissertations make use of empirical data (e.g. speech data, corpus data, or questionnaire data), some dissertations are of a more theoretical nature and require students to consider theoretical issues in the study of Linguistics.


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