Forensic Linguistics

The details
Language and Linguistics
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
06 November 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

In this module, we explore the ways in which linguistics intersects with public life.

Topics include how linguistic knowledge is used in legal settings, such as analysing courtroom discourse, determining authenticity, or using linguistic analysis to determine a person's country of origin, a person's identity, or the authorship of a text. This module may also cover how linguistic discrimination effects individuals, and the legal rights granted to specific languages and language users, and how important information is communicated to minority language users.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

• To introduce students to the ways in which language intersects with the law
• To apply methods of analysis learned in other linguistics modules to legal or other public-facing situations
• To promote an understanding of social justice and its intersection with language rights

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

1. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the ways language use affects individuals in legal, healthcare, and employment settings
2. Identify specific techniques used in forensic linguistics (corpus analysis, discourse analysis, forensic phonetics)
3. Critically evaluate the moral implications of language research and how linguistics can be used for the public good

Module information

Syllabus Information

The module will be delivered over 10 weeks focusing on the following topics:

* Introduction to Forensic Linguistics
* Social justice: language rights
* Discourse and power in the courtroom
* Pragmatics: determining authenticity
* Using linguistic corpora and determining authorship of a text
* Deepfakes and voice analysis
* Accentism
* Working with minority language speakers in legal and healthcare settings
* Language analysis for the determination of origin: the case of refugees
* Language analysis for the determination of origin: the case of refugees

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via: 1. One 1-hour lecture per week 2. Eight 1-hour seminars across the term 3. Two 1-hour practical sessions across the term The module is primarily lecture-based, but additional time allotted for student-centred projects supported by seminar activities. Lectures are intended to introduce students to areas of forensic linguistics and showcase specific cases where linguistic knowledge is used in real-world scenarios. Seminar activities include hands-on exercises with data (such as courtroom transcripts, language corpora, and speech samples) as well as opportunities discussions, particularly around ethics. All learning materials are supplemented by readings and recommended online resources such as current news articles, discussions of technology, etc. For accessibility, all materials will be provided online in a format that allows for visual/auditory adaptation to individual needs, and Listen Again will be enabled, so learning and teaching methods will be inclusive for all students.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Case study    25% 
Coursework   Data Analysis     25% 
Coursework   Essay    50% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Laurel Lawyer, email: l.lawyer@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Laurel Lawyer, Dr Charles Redmon, Dr Kyle Jerro, Professor Enam Al-Wer, Dr Marisa Brook, Dr Natalia Rodriguez Vicente
l.lawyer@essex.ac.uk, Office: 4.340, Number: 2082



External examiner

Dr Sam Christian D'Elia
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information
Language and Linguistics

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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