Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Linguistics and phonetics are core foundation knowledge areas that speech pathology students must possess in order to develop clinical occupational competencies in the Speech Pathology Australia range of practice areas, including Language, Speech, and Multi-modal communication.

This unit introduces students to the linguistic domains of syntax, semantics, morphology, phonology and pragmatics, and the science of speech, that is phonetics. Students will develop knowledge and skills in transcribing typical speech, through the introduction of the International Phonetic Alphabet, and develop skills in the grammatical analysis of language. Students will also explore branches of linguistics relevant to speech pathology, including sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and neurolinguistics. Finally, the link between each of these areas and the practice of speech pathology will be highlighted for students. This unit provides students with essential knowledge and skills that will be built upon in subsequent units of study. The aim of this unit is to facilitate the development of foundational knowledge and skills in linguistics and phonetics to enable students to develop their abilities in analysing speech and language for speech pathology practice.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe concepts in phonetics; the linguistic domains of phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics; and the linguistic branches of neurolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics (GA5)

LO2 - Demonstrate skills in phonemic and phonetic transcription of typical speech (GA5; GA8)

LO3 - Demonstrate skills in the grammatical analysis of standard and non-standard forms of language (GA5, GA8)

LO4 - Apply linguistic principles to explain and analyse human speech, language, and communication (GA1, GA4, GA5)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include:

Background to linguistics and phonetics

  • Relevance to speech pathology practice 
  • Introduction to terminology
  • Situating linguistics (language) and phonetics (speech) in social, cultural and developmental context 

Domains of speech and language 

  • Semantics
  • Lexical semantics 
  • Impact of sentence/phrase on meaning
  • Analysing semantics
  • Syntax
  • Sentence structure
  • Phrase structure
  • Analysing syntax
  • Morphology
  • Morphemes
  • Word formation rules
  • Word classes
  • Grammatical morphemes
  • Analysing morphemes 
  • Phonology
  • Classification of speech sounds
  • Phonemes
  • Distinctive features
  • Classes
  • Prosody (intonation and stress)
  • Rules of phonology
  • Analysing phonology
  • Phonetics
  • Articulatory phonetics
  • Acoustic phonetics
  • Auditory phonetics 
  • International phonetic alphabet Pragmatics 
  • Linguistic and situational context
  • Speech Acts
  • Conversational principles and implicatures

Linguistic branches 

  • Contextual uses and variations in language (Sociolinguistics)
  • Introduction to basic neurology and language function (Neurolinguistics)  
  • Language processing models (Psycholinguistics) 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning. This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the acquisition, assimilation, and application of the knowledge and skills in linguistics and phonetics. Students will be introduced to the key concepts in linguistics and phonetics in a series of on campus and video-conferenced lecture style classes. Students are expected to attend facilitated tutorial classes to participate in the construction and synthesis of their understanding of linguistics and phonetics. Students are also expected to attend practical classes on transcription and grammatical analysis to develop skills in these areas, which are core skills required for speech pathology practice. This approach allows students to develop responsibility for their learning and to construct knowledge actively within a face-face social environment while receiving expert support.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessments tasks in this unit are (a) Transcription Test – Hurdle Assessment, (b) Quizzes , (c) Speech and Language Analysis Report, and (d) Examination. The sequence of assessment in the unit allows students to develop their knowledge and skills on tasks that are progressively more complex and/or cover a progressively wider range of content.

The Hurdle Assessment, the transcription test, requires students to practise and demonstrate essential transcription skills to describe and record human speech. This is a hurdle assessment because these are core skills which are essential for speech pathology practice. The Hurdle Assessment allows students to demonstrate their emerging transcription skills using simplified examples of human speech and provides scaffolding for Assessment 3, which uses real and more complex examples of human speech in context.

Assessment 1, quizzes, is designed for students to demonstrate acquisition of theoretical knowledge as a foundation for the final two assessment pieces. The use of multiple quizzes across the duration of the unit will allow for formative feedback to be distributed across the course of the unit to enable deeper learning and better preparation for the subsequent assessments.

Assessment 2, a speech and language analysis report, requires students to apply their knowledge of linguistic principles to explain and analyse human speech, language and communication.

Assessment 3, an examination, allows students to further demonstrate their understanding through assimilating their knowledge of a broad range of linguistic and phonetic concepts in answering multiple choice and short answer questions, as well as demonstrating their knowledge of   the extensions of linguistics in the branches of neurolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Hurdle Assessment: Transcription Test

This hurdle assessment enables students to practise and demonstrate transcription skills that are essential professional skills for speech pathology practice





Quizzes allow students an opportunity to consolidate and demonstrate understanding of theoretical knowledge in linguistics.


LO1, LO3 

GA4, GA5

Speech and language analysis report

This report enables students to demonstrate their application of linguistic knowledge to describe, analyse and explain human speech and language in context


LO2, LO3, 


GA1, GA4,  GA5, GA8


This examination enables students to demonstrate their understanding and application of knowledge and skills in linguistics. 


LO1, LO3, 


GA4, GA5

Representative texts and references

Burridge, K., & Stebbins, T.N. (2015). For the love of language: An introduction to linguistics.  Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press. 

Cox, F. (2012). Australian English: Pronunciation and Transcription. Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.

Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., Hyams, N., Amberber, M., Cox, F., & Thornton, R.  (2015). An Introduction to Language: Australia and New Zealand (8th ed.). South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning. 

Hand, L. (2012). Grammar Handbook. Speech Sciences Programme, Department of Psychology, The University of Auckland.        

Ladefoged, P. (20015). A course in phonetics. South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning.

McAllister, J. & Miller, J.E. (2013). Introductory linguistics for speech and language therapy practice. Chichester, UK: Wiley Blackwell.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs