University of Sydney Handbooks - 2012 Archive

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The Linguistics Department is part of the School of Letters, Art and Media (SLAM).

Linguistics studies the full range of aspects of human languages, from sign to speech, to writing, from their structure, to their use, from the history of language, to how they are used in everyday talk, as well as the psychological and neurological aspects of language. It investigates how people convey meanings using language resources (sounds, signs, words, grammar, genre), but through this seeks to uncover features common to all human languages, the 'linguistic universals'. Linguists study international languages like English, and endangered languages with fewer than 100 speakers. Such study reveals that languages, which seem on first view to be different, share many important deeper similarities.

The great range of human language requires a corresponding diversity of methods to study languages and their users. These include descriptive grammatical analysis, formal logic, speech science technologies, neurolinguistic and psycholinguistic experimentation, discourse analysis, statistical approaches, computational methods, ethnographic investigation and sociological methods. A linguistics major trains students to use the tools of many disciplines.

Linguistics is relevant to the study of anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy and literary criticism, as well as for individual languages. Practical applications abound in fields like computer science, development studies, language teaching, general education, speech pathology, editing, legal drafting, translation and intercultural communication.

The Linguistics Department offers units of study at junior, senior and IV honours level, as well as postgraduate programs. The entry requirements for undergraduate units are set out in the table of units of study in section of this handbook. Junior units of study introduce the study of linguistics and provide the foundation for senior level units. As self-contained units they may be useful for students who want to know more about language but are majoring in other disciplines. Some senior units may form part of majors in other departments through crosslisting.

To major in linguistics, students must complete 36 senior credit points, including 12 from two of the following units of study offered in 2011: Semester 1 – LNGS2602, LNGS2603, LNGS2620; Semester 2 – LNGS2604, LNGS2621, LNGS3601.

You may choose to count towards the major not more than 18 senior credit points from particular units of study offered in other departments. For full details please check the Table of Crosslisted units available on the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences website at

Students may choose to specialise in one of four distinct areas of linguistics by completing a recommended pattern of units of study. It is important that you check the prerequisites of advanced units, to ensure that you choose units which will allow you to take those advanced units later.

Areas of Specialisation
Theoretical Descriptive Studies: This area of specialisation will be useful to anyone with an interest in the structure of language and especially professionals whose work requires them to have a good insight to the way language is built and is used to express ideas. Professions range from law, computer science and language teaching to publishing and intercultural communication. Relevant units offered in 2012 include:

  • LNGS2602 Syntax
  • LNGS2620 Phonetics
  • LNGS2621 Phonology
  • LNGS3601 Semantics and Pragmatics
  • LNGS3605 Structure of Language
  • LNGS3606 Phonological Theory.

Social Discourse Analysis: This area offers a range of theoretically informed approaches to discourse analysis informed by functional, corpus and applied linguistics. Those completing this major will not only be up to date on cutting-edge discourse theory, but also be positioned to use that knowledge in relation to ongoing initiatives in educational, forensic and medical institutions. Relevant units offered in 2012 include:

  • LNGS2603 Functional Grammar
  • LNGS2604 Discourse Analysis
  • LNGS2620 Phonetics
  • LNGS3607 Genre and register
  • LNGS3608 Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory
  • LNGS3692 Media Discourse
  • LNGS3694 Language and Identity.

Languages and Linguistics: Students studying languages or English are encouraged to take Linguistics to provide an underpinning of linguistic theory to their studies. Joint honours in both languages and linguistics is possible.

Computation and Linguistics: This is a growing area of research and development with prospects for employment in modern language technology industries. It requires people trained both in linguistic analysis and in information technology. Students interested in this area of specialisation are asked to contact both the Linguistics coordinator and the School of Information Technologies for information about which units to undertake for the development of a joint program of study in computation and linguistics. Relevant units offered in 2012 include:

  • LNGS2602 Syntax
  • LNGS2603 Functional Grammar
  • LNGS2613 Computer Applications in Linguistics
  • LNGS2620 Phonetics
  • LNGS2621 Phonology
  • LNGS3601 Semantics and Pragmatics
  • LNGS3608 Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory

Students considering enrolling in Linguistics IV honours are encouraged to consult with the Linguistics Honours Coordinator as early as possible, preferably towards the end of their third year. The Department of Linguistics encourages joint honours programs. To enter the honours year you will need: Credit average in 48 senior credit points of LNGS or crosslisted units.

For further details regarding the honours program see that section of this handbook or contact the Honours Coordinator: Professor Jim Martin Email:


Contact/further information
For comprehensive information see the Linguistics department website:
Undergraduate Student Adviser: Toni Borowsky