autumn 2020
HIF-3022 Phonology I - 10 ECTS

Last changed 30.10.2020

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 June for courses offered in the autumn semester and 1 December for courses offered in the spring semester.

Exchange students and Fulbright students: 15 April for courses offered in the autumn semester and 1 October for courses offered in the spring semester.

Type of course

This course is mandatory for students in the MA programme in Theoretical Linguistics, and elective for students in the MA programme in English Acquisition and Multilingualism. This course may be taken as a single course by students who qualify for admission to the MA programme in Theoretical Linguistics.

Admission requirements

Bachelor's degree (180 ECTS), or equivalent qualification, in a language or linguistics, or a degree combining linguistics and literature, with a minimum of 80 ECTS of concentrated work in linguistics and/or language. An average grade equivalent to C or better (in the concentrated work in linguistics and/or language, 80 ECTS) is required.

Application code 9371 - Enkeltemner på masternivå (Nordic applicants).

Course content

This course is intended to serve as an introduction to modern phonology for students on the Master's programmes in Theoretical Linguistics and English Acquisition and Multilingualism. It has two aims: 1)    To provide you with a critical review of selected aspects of generative phonological theory of special contemporary relevance. This should get you started reading the primary literature critically, as well as carrying out original research on your own. 2) To give you a sound basis in the techniques involved in organizing, presenting and analysing phonological data.

In the first semester our focus is on phonology 'by itself'. Starting with an introduction to the basics of linguistic phonetics. In the second part of the course we will look at evidence for how speech sounds and the processes in which they participate are represented in the human mind. In the third part of the course, we will examine the evidence for the mental reality of higher-level units that lack a firm phonetic basis such as the syllable, metrical foot (the unit of stress), and the phonological word. We will devote a great deal of attention to the way that languages vary typologically. We will see that there are principled restrictions on this variation. Our analyses will be couched largely in Optimality Theory (OT), the dominant theoretical framework today. In OT, the tasks of describing the grammar of a particular language and describing the typology are tightly interwoven.

In the second semester, in HIF-3021 Phonology II, we look at the bigger picture and ask how phonology fits in with other linguistic domains such as morphology, lexicon and syntax. This will also open up for a discussion of some of the critiques of OT as a theory of grammar.

Objectives of the course

On successful completion of the course, the student has the following knowledge and skill set:


The student is familiar with

  • the vocal tract and its parts and how they are used for the production of speech sounds 
  • the basics of phonological analysis
  • basic architecture and theoretical issues in generative phonology
  • a current model of phonological representation
  • Optimality Theory
  • segmental phonology
  • suprasegmental phonology


The student can

  • analyse precompiled phonological data sets
  • analyse data from various languages in the world
  • describe phonological patterns with adequate terminology
  • use phonological theoretical tools to gain a deeper understanding of a given data set
  • discuss issues and problems in phonological data analysis
  • discuss issues and problems in phonological theory formation
  • use digital tools for phonological research
  • present phonological data and theoretical discussions orally and in written form

Language of instruction

Language of instruction and examination: English.

Teaching methods

Lectures, exercises, seminars, group work, discussions, project work.

Quality assurance: All courses undergo a halfway evaluation once in a 2-year period at the master`s level.


The following coursework requirements must be completed and approved in order to take the final exam:

  • Students are expected to do regular homework and hand in at least six assignments with prespecified hand-in dates in time.
  • Every student gives one oral presentation of 10-20 minutes in class.

The exam will consist of: 

A term paper of 5000 words, (in the digital exam tool WISEflow).

Performance in the course will be assessed on an A-F grades scale. Grades are A-E for passed and F for failed. A re-sit examination is offered in the event of an F grade. The deadline to register (in the Studentweb) for a re-sit examination is 15 January (for courses offered in the autumn semester) and 15 August (for courses offered in the spring semester). For the re-sit exam, the student may submit a revised version of his/her term paper within a given deadline.


Recommended reading/syllabus

Pensumliste for HIF-3022 Phonology I
  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: HIF-3022