The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
24 April 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module introduces acoustic phonetics focusing on the structure of sound waves. We focus on how information in sound waves is represented in spectra and spectrograms. We look at how different resonant frequencies affect the structure of sound waves and how this results in different sounds. We relate this to the vocal tract and examine how different articulations alter the volume in which sound waves may occur. We learn how to represent this varying information in the software Praat and conduct small experiments to investigate various phonetic phenomena. We also briefly investigate the relation between acoustics, audition and perception.

Module aims

1. Introduce the structure of sound waves
2. Investigate phonetic issues from day to day examples
3. Learn how to use the software Praat
4. Investigate the relation between articulation and acoustic structure
5. Lean how to represent and conduct phonetic analysis

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the course you should have a clear understanding of acoustic phonetics and demonstrate knowledge of the details of sound wave structure and know how different aspects of sound waves such as frequency, speed of sound and wavelength are related. You will be able to read information off spectrograms in order to identify different sounds. You will be able to conduct acoustic speech analysis using Praat and produce documents to display your findings. At the end of the module you will be well equipped for independent phonetic analysis and advanced study.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

A two-hour class each week involving both lecture style teaching and practical work in computer assisted phonetic analysis.


  • Zsiga, Elizabeth C. (2013) The sounds of language: an introduction to phonetics and phonology, Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework Assignment 1 - Phonetic analysis 06/03/2020 40%
Coursework Acoustics Assignment and Reflection 20/03/2020 30%
Coursework Assignment 2 - Small project 16/04/2020 30%
Exam 120 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main)

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Laurel Lawyer
Nancy C. Kula, Room 2.406, Ext 4267, nckula



External examiner

Dr Lynne Julie Cahill
University of Sussex
Available via Moodle
Of 22 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
22 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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