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Module

SEL3005 : Origins and Evolution of Language

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Christine Cuskley
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

Aims: To examine recent theories of language origins and evolution from a linguistic perspective; to examine work on the physical evidence concerning the origins of language, especially from a linguistic perspective; to consider additional evidence from a biological, anthropological, neurological and palaeontological perspective.

Outline Of Syllabus

i.       Human evolution and phylogeny in relation to language (weeks 1 – 4)
ii.       Language-relevant changes to the brain and cognition in hominins (week 5)
iii.       Communication and relevant cognitive skills in other species (week 6)      
iv.       The human speech modality and the development of sound systems (weeks 7 – 8)
v.       The transition to language: Protolanguage and the evolution of syntax and morphology (weeks 9 – 11)
vi. Surgery on essay writing (week 12)

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion145:0045:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials72:0014:00Non synchronous online lecture materials
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading165:0065:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00Present in person - timetabled (Seminars)
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities21:002:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion51:005:00Non- synchronous online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study155:0055:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time31:003:00Synchronous online lectures
Total200:00
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
SEL8033Origins and Evolution of Language
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce the relevant points of evolutionary biology as it pertains to language evolution, outline the main concepts and topics in evolutionary linguistics, give definitions and explanations, and discuss the primary hypotheses found in the evolutionary linguistics literature.

Seminars read and digest primary literature, outline the structure of arguments, allow student feedback, and discuss issues arising from the lectures, in smaller groups.

Discussions, structured reading, and workshops will provided guided practice in reading, critiquing, and discussing primary interdisciplinary scientific lterature, and give practical advice about presenting and constructing an argument, and writing cogently in a scientific discipline.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M502,000 words
Written exercise1M501500 words (short answer)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay allows assessment of a student’s understanding of the concepts and issues covered, their grasp of the major hypotheses in the field, and their ability to argue cogently, clearly and concisely, including their ability to use correctly the technical terminology required in an evolutionary science.

The written exercise will assess the students ability to clearly and concisely apply basic concepts of evolution to Linguistics and Social Sciences using a short answer format.

Reading Lists

Timetable