LING225-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020

Forensic Linguistics

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 February 2020
End Date: Sunday, 21 June 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 28 February 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 29 May 2020


How can we use linguistics to solve crimes? In this course, students will learn how linguistic analysis is used in legal settings. We ask (1) What can a spoken or written text tell us about its author(s)? (2) What factors facilitate author attribution and what factors complicate it? (3) Is there really such a thing as a 'linguistic fingerprint', allowing us to categorically identify someone just from a recording of their voice or a piece of their writing? And (4) What is involved in 'being a forensic linguist'?

How can we use linguistic evidence to solve crimes? What does linguistic analysis tell us about legal language? In this course, students learn how linguistics is used in forensic settings. We ask:

1. What can a piece of spoken or written language tell us about its authors?
2. How do we evaluate whether a speaker is telling the truth?
3. Can linguistic analysis expose inequalities and injustices in the legal system?
4. What are the social implications of using linguistic evidence outside the courtroom?

Learning Outcomes

  • Through their experiences with this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe how we can apply linguistic analysis to forensic questions
  • Categorize the most common types of linguistic evidence and their uses
  • Synthesize common principles from the analysis of legal language
  • Evaluate the role of linguistic evidence outside of legal domains
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.


Any 15 points at any level from any subject.

Timetable 2020

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 10:00 - 11:00 - (24/3, 21/4-26/5)
F3 Lecture Theatre (18/2-17/3)
17 Feb - 29 Mar
20 Apr - 31 May
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 13:00 - 15:00 - (24/4-29/5)
F3 Lecture Theatre (21/2-20/3)
17 Feb - 22 Mar
20 Apr - 31 May

Course Coordinator

Jonathan Dunn


Kevin Watson and Lynn Clark


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Quizzes 40% Weekly.
Mid-term project 24 Apr 2020 30%
Final exam 30% Replaced with open-book assessment

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Coulthard, Malcolm. , Johnson, Alison, Wright, David; An Introduction to forensic linguistics : language in evidence; Second edition; Routledge, 2017.

Optional readings will be distributed on Learn.

Course links

To access the Learn page for the course, go to
Learn and log in with your usual UC username and password. You will see a menu of the courses you are enrolled in.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $777.00

International fee $3,375.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 20 people apply to enrol.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences.

All LING225 Occurrences

  • LING225-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020
  • LING225-20S1 (D) Semester One 2020 (Distance)