Prelims Modern Languages & Linguistics

Foundation Course in Linguistics

General Coordinator 2016 — 2017: Dr Ash Asudeh (

ML/MLL Undergraduate Studies Handbook - for students starting in Michaelmas Term 2016.

Who takes this course?

This course forms part of the following degree programmes:

  • MLL: Modern Language and Linguistics (all candidates)
  • ML: Modern Languages (some candidates)
  • PPL: Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (some candidates)

For Modern Languages and Linguistics (MLL), all candidates follow the Linguistics Prelims course.

For Modern Languages (ML), candidates offering only one language for Finals (except French, German and Russian ab-initio) will usually take Linguistics as their ‘second subject’ at the Prelims level.

Outline of the course

There are three parts to the course: General Linguistics, Phonetics and Phonology, and Grammatical Analysis. These are taught through a series of compulsory lectures and classes or tutorials. Details of each part are given below.

Please note that the teaching and examining schedules for ML/MML and PPL are slightly different:

  • ML/MLL candidates follow the course over 3 terms (MT, HT and TT) and are examined at the end of Trinity Term via 3 x 3-hour exams (one for each part of the course: Paper VIII (General Linguistics); Paper IX (Phonetics and Phonology); Paper X (Grammatical Analysis)).

Collections: each student, in consultation with their College and their Linguistics Organising Tutor will decide when to take their collection paper.

General Linguistics (MLL/ML Paper VIII)

Paper Coordinator 2016-2017: Dr Matthew Husband (

Candidates will be expected to be familiar with the development of contemporary linguistic theory, both synchronic and historical, and be able to discuss problems and issues in areas including semantics, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, language acquisition and language change.

The course will cover the following main areas, divided roughly into 4-week modules:

  • Modern Approaches to Language
  • Semantics/Pragmatics
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Sociolinguistics/Language variation
  • Language Change

Lectures are weekly in MT (1-8), HT (1-8) and TT (1-4). ML/MLL candidates are required to attend all lectures over the year.

Fortnightly tutorials: ML/MLL candidates receive 10 tutorials in total (4 in MT, 4 in HT and 2 in TT), on a fortnightly basis, in odd weeks.

Phonetics and Phonology (ML/MLL: Paper IX)

Paper Coordinator 2016-2017: Dr Joanna Przedlacka (

Candidates will be expected to be familiar with principles and practice in the analysis, classification and transcription of speech as applied to languages in general, but with an emphasis on European languages.

The course will cover the following main areas, divided roughly into four-week modules:

  • Articulatory Phonetics and Practical Phonetic Transcription
  • Introduction to Phonological Theory and Analysis
  • Acoustic Phonetics
  • Beyond the segment: dynamic phonetics and prosody

Lectures are weekly in MT (1-8) and HT (1-8). There are no lectures in TT. ML/MLL and PPL candidates are required to attend all lectures, though PPL candidates are exempt from attending lectures in HT (7-8) because of exams.

Weekly classes: ML/MLL candidates attend classes throughout MT and HT, and for weeks 1-6 in TT (22 classes in total).

Grammatical Analysis (ML/MLL: Paper X)

Paper Coordinators 2016-2017: Prof. Mary Dalrymple (MT, TT) (, Dr Sandra Paoli (HT) (

Candidates will be expected to be familiar with grammatical theory. The main elements of this course are:

  • Syntactic Theory and Typology
  • Morphological Theory

Lectures are weekly in MT (1-8), HT (1-8) and TT (1-4). ML/MLL candidates are required to attend all lectures over the year. PPL candidates are required to attend all lectures up to HT7, and encouraged to attend lectures in TT.

Fortnightly classes: ML/MLL candidates attend classes in even weeks throughout MT and HT, and for weeks 1-4 in TT (10 classes in total).

Sample Timetables

Click to view sample timetables for ML/MLL. These show scheduled times for compulsory lectures, and the number of additional teaching hours (n.b. with sample times/days – actual times/days need to be fixed with individual tutors at the co-ordination meeting in 0th week of Michaelmas Term).


The three papers are assessed via a 3-hour unseen written exam each at the end of Trinity Term in the first year. Click here to see recent Examiners’ reports (under ‘Undergraduate, Examinations, Exam reports’; you will need your SSO username and password to access them).

The Examination Regulations relating to the Prelims part of this course are available here. If there is a conflict between information in these pages and the Examination Regulations then you should follow the Examination Regulations. If you have any concerns please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) in Linguistics:

Examination Conventions

Examination conventions are the formal record of the specific assessment standards for the course or courses to which they apply. They set out how your examined work will be marked and how the resulting marks will be used to arrive at a final result and classification of your award. They include information on: marking scales, marking and classification criteria, scaling of marks, progression, resits, use of viva voce examinations, penalties for late submission, and penalties for over-length work.

Examination regulations and conventions can be found here. These are updated yearly, usually after the beginning of each academic year. It is therefore advisable to check for the current set at the beginning of Hilary Term.

Marking Descriptors

The criteria used when marking exams are found in the ML/MLL Undergraduate Studies Handbook. It is a good idea for students to familiarise themselves with the contents of this document and ask their Linguistics tutors for any clarification that may be needed.

The information provided in these pages is accurate as of September 2016; however it may be necessary for changes to be made in certain circumstances, as explained at If such changes are made the Faculty will amend this online information and students will be informed.

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