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Unit information: General Linguistics in 2021/22

Unit name General Linguistics
Unit code MODL20016
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Havinga
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The field of Linguistics studies human languages with an aim to understand their underlying structures and principles, both within any given language and comparatively across related and unrelated languages. In this unit we will study Language, i.e. the cognitive system steering the processing of linguistic in- and outputs of our native and any foreign languages we use, by learning about principal analytical tools in the fields of phonology, morphology, and syntax. We will draw on examples from a wide range of languages, though principally from European ones, including English. Students will learn how to analyse complex utterances and divide them up into meaningful units, and compare similarities and differences across languages.


The unit aims to

  • introduce students to the formal aspects of linguistic description and analysis
  • develop an understanding of the differences between language as a means of communication and a formal system of interacting components
  • gain an overview of the field of systemic linguistics and its practical applications
  • inspire students to work further, and independently, in this and other fields
  • enhance students’ foreign language skills, close reading skills and powers of analysis, research and presentation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. describe and define linguistic terms and key principles in the study of Language
  2. explain how languages other than those they are already familiar with operate as linguistic systems
  3. recognise cross-linguistic similarities and differences
  4. employ specific techniques to analyse linguistic datasets
  5. compose arguments in a structured form at a standard appropriate to level I.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation

Assessment Information

1 x 2000-word essay (50%), testing ILOs 1-3, 5

1 x timed written assessment (50%), testing ILOs 1, 4 and 5


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. MODL20016).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.