MA in Phonological Development

Seminar phonological development york baby labOur MA programme is designed for students who would like to obtain an in-depth understanding of how children learn the sound system of their language. It includes a balanced mix of courses focusing on infant production and perception, and courses taking a broader approach to learning from a biological and cognitive perspective.

To open the Phonological Development programme to everyone who might benefit from it, we offer in the autumn term both specialist modules and, as alternative options, a bridge module already offered by the Department as part of its MA in Linguistics (‘Phonetics and Phonology’) and an undergraduate module offered to final-year undergraduates (‘Phonological Development’, with a supplementary essay for MA students). In addition, we offer a ‘Quantitative Methods’ module to provide students with a critical understanding of the goals and methods of empirical study. This module regularly attracts students enrolled in other MA and MSc programmes in the Department.

In the second term, two programme-specific modules build on the autumn term content. They begin with a brief overview for the benefit of students who have attended the bridging and undergraduate modules. The content of the ‘Topics’ module is tailored to the students’ interests each year, but includes at least two weeks of readings and discussion of phonological development in the context of bilingual or second-language exposure in childhood. An additional possible topic is neurolinguistic development. The summer term is devoted to individual research activity, culminating in the writing of the MA thesis.

The programme is inherently interdisciplinary, since the findings of psychological studies of learning and of linguistic structures, and interpretations of emergent systematicity, are key to a good understanding of phonological development. The programme is also cross-cultural and cross-linguistic in scope, since investigation of children acquiring a range of different languages is necessary in order to fully understand the processes underlying production, perception and phonological learning.