Sounds of English - LL303

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Autumn 4 15 (7.5) MRS V Kogan checkmark-circle


This module will begin by offering a basic description of speech sounds, with emphasis on those used in English and detailed descriptions first of consonants, and then of vowels. The gaps between sound and orthography will be highlighted as symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) are learned. The course will then move from phonetics (the study of speech sounds) to phonology (the study of the sound systems in language), focusing on phonotactics and other phonological rules of English. At the end of the term, basic prosodic concepts such as stress, rhythm, intonation and phrasing will be discussed. The main focus of the module will be on the standard variety of English spoken in the UK (often referred to as Received Pronunciation, or RP), but phonetic and phonological variation in non-UK and non-standard varieties of English will also be discussed (rhotic vs. non-rhotic varieties; luck-look merger).


This module appears in the following module collections.


Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Group Presentation (15 minutes) – 20%
Online Test (90 minutes) – 80%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Catford, J. (2010). A Practical Introduction to Phonetics. Oxford: OUP.
Hughes A.,? Trudgill P.,? Watt D. (2012). English Accents and Dialects: An Introduction to Social and Regional Varieties of English in the British Isles. London: Routledge.
McMahon, A. (2002). Introduction to English Phonology. Edinburgh: EUP.
Ogden, R. (2017). An Introduction to English Phonetics. Edinburgh: EUP.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate confidence using the basic terminology of phonetics and phonology as they apply to English;
Recognise and describe the phonemes of English;
Use with confidence phonetic symbols relevant to Standard Southern British English and other varieties;
Understand how the English phonological system is structured, and recognise some of the important phonotactic and phonological rules of English;
Recognise and describe variation at the phonetic/phonological levels in different varieties of English;
Understand the basics of higher-level speech phenomena of English.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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