Evolution of Communication: from animal signals to human speech (C8600)

15 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

This module will explore the evolution of communication, progressing from the vocal signals that animals produce and the functions they serve, to then consider the differences between animal and human communication, and to evaluate theories of language evolution and discover the unique properties of human speech. In the course of this we will also examine ape language studies and gestural theories of language origins.

The teaching will combine lectures with interactive research workshop sessions and practical demonstrations in order to expose students to tools and skills that would allow them to conduct research in this area themselves. It should very much appeal to both psychologists and biologists interested in how vocal signals provide the basis for animal sexual and social behaviour, the evolution of communication, the question of whether any animal can be said to have a language, and the production and perception of human speech.


48%: Lecture (Film, Lecture)
30%: Practical (Practical, Workshop)
22%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay, Presentation)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 150 hours of work. This breaks down into 27 hours of contact time and 123 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.