Skip to Content


Last modified: 16 Aug 2021 13:56

Course Overview

Language acquisition is a human feat like no other: accomplished by children in their early years with no apparent effort, but sometimes incredibly difficult for adults. This course looks at how people come to know languagesusing existing research in the field and real-life examples to examine stages of linguistic development and theoretical approaches to this hotly debated complex process.  

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Elspeth Edelstein

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course provides an overview of the complex process of language acquisition, or how humans come to ‘know’ a language. We will discuss the evolution of theoretical approaches to this field that sprang up in the 20th century, looking at the debate among psychologists and linguists over how much language acquisition is like, or indeed connected to, other types of learning. Taking into account the wide range of existing research on this topic, we will consider the cognitive factors that potentially influence language acquisition, such as predisposition for language learning and brain changes with age, as well as environmental ones, such as amount and type of exposure to a language. Using real-life examples to illustrate the ways in which knowledge of a language develops as it is acquired, going from infants’ initial sounds to full-fledged grammatical sentences, we will delve into the thorny question of what linguistic knowledge, and indeed language itself, really is. 

In light of Covid-19 this information is indicative and may be subject to change.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Seminar during University weeks 9 - 19
  • 1 Tutorial during University weeks 9 - 19

More Information about Week Numbers

In light of Covid-19 and the move to blended learning delivery the assessment information advertised for second half-session courses may be subject to change. All updates for second-half session courses will be actioned in advance of the second half-session teaching starting. Please check back regularly for updates.

Summative Assessments

Four 500 word Journal Entries (40%)

3000 word essay (50%)

SAM mark (10%)

Resit: 3000 word essay (100%)

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
FactualRememberILO’s for this course are available in the course guide.

Compatibility Mode

We have detected that you are have compatibility mode enabled or are using an old version of Internet Explorer. You either need to switch off compatibility mode for this site or upgrade your browser.