UCL Division of Psychology & Language Sciences

PHONLINE — Phonetics Online


Enrolment for the pilot is now closed, following a huge international response.
If you would like to be kept informed of future PHONLINE courses, please send an email to:

The Department of Phonetics and Linguistics at UCL is delighted to announce the launch of an online distance learning course in phonetics, and to invite applications from prospective students for a pilot course to run from 12 June to 4 August 2006.

It will be delivered by an interactive website, with course content and interactive discussions available online using an ordinary web-browser.

About the course

The course, which we believe to be the first attempt at a complete online distance course in the subject, will focus on English Phonetics. It is aimed at all those, whether teachers or students, undergraduate or postgraduate, who wish to acquire or renew knowledge and skills related to English phonetics.

We hope that by the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • make use of, and to produce transcribed material in a specified variety of English;
  • have sufficient knowledge and understanding of phonetic theory to underpin transcription; and
  • have gained relevant auditory discrimination skills.

The course will be modular with eight units, one every week, each consisting of a tutorial material, self assessment exercises and guidance for further independent study. There will be transcription exercises and self-assessment tests throughout the course, and a formal assessment at the end. We also hope that there will be a small-scale virtual project work, in which students work together via the Internet on a shared project.

Alongside individual interaction with tutors, students will be encouraged to participate in interactive discussions with fellow students. Students can log on at their convenience — at least once every few days — to view the comments of their fellow students and tutors, and to contribute to the discussions themselves. Students can expect to spend at least 2 to 3 hours online every week.


Michael Ashby
Jill House
John Maidment
Mark Huckvale

For their research interests, visit the Academic Staff page.

Entry Requirements

The course is open to those who have not specialised in phonetics before, but applicants must be familiar with the basic concepts of phonetics and have proficiency in English, if not a native speaker:

  • IELTS: 7.0, with a minimum of 6.0 in each of the subtests; or
  • TOEFL: (paper-based) 600 plus 5 in the Test of Written English; (computer-based) 250 plus essay rating 5.

You will also need regular access to the Internet. See below for computer requirements.

Course fee

There is no fee for this pilot version of course, but the course will be experimental in many aspects. Students will receive professional tutorial guidance for free, but we hope to receive feedback and comments from them throughout the duration of the course, in order to make improvements.

After development, we expect to make PHONLINE available annually to fee-paying students, and to use it as an adjunct to the admissions process for on-campus courses such as the MA Phonetics and the Summer Course in English Phonetics.

Application Process

If you would like to apply, please fill in the application form online, by 28 May 2006. The number of places on this course will be limited, and admission will be at the discretion of the project team, led by Michael Ashby.


While we will make every effort to support students once enrolled, please bear in mind that technical or computing difficulties beyond our control may affect participation in the course. We can give no undertaking that all aspects of the course will be fully functional for all participants.

Computer requirements

Hardware and software

  • Operating system: Windows 98SE, 2000 or XP, Macintosh OS X 10.1.x or 10.2.x
  • Internet connection: at least 56 kbps. Faster connection highly recommended
  • Browser (one of the following):


    • Internet Explorer 5.0, 5.5, 6.0 (but not 5.5 SP1)
    • Netscape Navigator 6.2.x, 7.0, 7.1
    • Mozilla 1.5, 1.6


    • Netscape Navigator 6.2.x, 7.0, 7.1
    • Mozilla 1.5, 1.6
    • Safari 1.2
  • Plug-ins: Adobe Acrobat Reader (or other PDF viewer), QuickTime (or other media player), Java — all freely downloadable.
  • Applications: A word-processing application, such as Microsoft Word
  • Speakers or headphones


No specific skills are required — the course is not designed for computer experts! However, students should be familiar with the basics of using applications such as Microsoft Word, and sending and receiving emails.


If you have any enquiries, please email us at:


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