PALS0009 Introduction to Speech Science
UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences
PALS0009 Introduction to Speech Science

Introduction to the course


This module will introduce the concepts, methods and terminology essential to the scientific study of spoken language. It will cover the phonetic description of speech production, the quantitative analysis of speech sounds, and sources of variation and variety in speech.

The course aims:


Knowledge and understanding

Transferable Skills


The syllabus covers essential topics in Speech Science, including: the form of speech communication, sound and hearing, audio signals and systems, the acoustic-phonetic form of voice, vowels and consonants, the phonological structure of English, stress and intonation, speaker identity and accent variation, the effect of speaking styles and emotions on speech.

Lectures, Labs & Tutorials

Each week the course will offer the student: 1.5 hours of pre-recorded lecture videos; 1.5 hours of Lecture Q&A, Activities, and Tutorial; 1 hour of Laboratory. Lecture videos will be made available during the week before the content is discussed, allowing you enough time to digest the lecture content, post questions on the weekly Moodle Q&A forum, and come prepared for content discussion.


Lectures (pre-recorded)Wednesday (prior week)Moodle
Lecture Q&A, TutorialMonday 11.00-12.30Zoom
LaboratoryWednesday 10-11, 11-12, or 12-13CH B07

Contact Details

Lecturer & TutorChris
Lab TutorScott


Assessments must be submitted in electronic format through the Moodle site.


The course has a moodle page at

The Moodle site will contain links to course notes, lecture slides, readings, and to additional resources.


The course handbook is written as a set of web pages and can be found at:

The web design used for the course handbook is designed to be readable on portable devices.

Course notes will not be printed. They contain many web links and interactive multimedia that are lost on printing. If you require a printed version you will need to print them yourself.


The course notes will index a range of web sites containing useful information about the topics. Use these to help develop your understanding of the concepts covered.

Each week a small number of readings will be set. Students should strive to read as much as possible around the topics covered on the course. Readings will be described as "Essential" or "Background". Where possible, essential readings will be made available on-line.

The course notes also contain a 'Reflections' heading which you can use to test your understanding of the material. If you are confused by any of these, bring your questions to the tutorial.

Use the Moodle Discussion forum for any specific questions you have outside the tutorial time. Also post messages if you find other interesting web sites relevant to the course.

Recommended Text Books

If you purchase any of these from Amazon using the supplied links, you will be supporting the web site

An Introduction to the Science of Phonetics (Nigel Hewlett & Mary Beck, 2006).
A general introduction to articulation, sound, hearing and perception that meshes well with the scientific approach to the material that we take in the course.
Vowels and Consonants (Peter Ladefoged & Sandra Disner, 2012)
An excellent introduction to Phonetics for the novice. It is not so great when it comes to the acoustics of speech compared to Hewlett and Beck.
Sounds of Language (Elizabeth Zsiga, 2013)
An introductory textbook for Phonetics and Phonology that also includes speech acoustics and hearing. Includes much more Phonology than either of the other two text books. This book is also used in the second year speech science course.

Word count: . Last modified: 16:05 05-Jan-2022.