Knowing how people perceive, form and use speech sounds when communicating is foundational knowledge for professions such as speech pathology. By studying phonetics, students will learn about the science of speech. This involves how to use the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet to transcribe speech sounds. It also involves exploring how the vocal tract relates to the different speech sounds, and the basic acoustic features of consonants and vowels. By studying phonology, students will learn about the patterns of speech relevant to languages in the Australian context, including Australian Aboriginal languages and will have the opportunity to reflect on speech as a cultural phenomenon.

Unit details

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96 credit points of core second year HCSP units.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Execute real-time transcriptions of speech sounds in isolation, words, phrases and discourse using the International Phonetic Alphabet symbols and conventions, as relevant to Australia's linguistic diversity;  
  2. Describe consonant and vowel sounds in terms of articulatory and acoustic phonetics;  
  3. Elucidate the difference between phonetics and phonology;  
  4. Differentiate between and hypothesise why differences occur in speech patterns across groups; and  
  5. Reflect on pronunciation patterns as a cultural phenomenon.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Other Phonetic transcriptions of real-time speech sounds (3x30mins) 40%
Presentation Group presentation of speech sound patterns of varying language groups (10mins) and individual written reflection 500 words 30%
Test Test (SAQ, MCQ) (1hr) 30%
The first transcription, weighted 10%, is due in week 1. In order to pass the unit, students must attempt and submit all assessments and achieve an aggregate mark of at least 50%.

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

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