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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Language Sciences

Postgraduate Course: Simulating Language (LASC11113)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe study of the origins and evolution of language and communication has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years. Part of the reason for this has been the application of new techniques from computer modelling to test out different hypotheses about how language evolved.
This allows researchers to run experiments on populations of simulated individuals, essentially rerunning competing proposed scenarios for the evolution of language.
Course description In this course, we will build and run experiments with very simple models that nevertheless cast light on a wide range of puzzles - from the origins of animal communication all the way to the emergence of patterns of regularity and irregularity in language structure. Each of these models will build on the previous ones and at each step we will relate the practical work we are doing with the existing literature on simulating language, as well as broader issues in the scientific understanding of the origins and ongoing evolution of language.

This course will be suitable for anyone interested in the dynamic processes underpinning language, including individual learning, cultural transmission, and biological evolution. It will involve a mix of practical lab work, lectures and discussions.

Experience of programming (using any language) would be an advantage, but is not a prerequisite.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 53, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 141 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 0 %, Practical Exam 100 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Short answer questions within a take-home exam (30%) and practical work within a take-home exam (70%)

Assignment 1 deadline: 12 noon, Thursday 3rd March 2016
Return deadline: 25th March 2016

Assignment 2 deadline: 12 noon, Thursday 14th April
Return deadline: 6th May 2016
Feedback Lab sessions with one-to-one advice on completing lab assignments. Lecture giving feedback on first assessment and feedforward advice on approaching the second.

Comments provided on submitted assessments
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. critically assess research papers that use modelling techniques
  2. understand those aspects of evolutionary linguistics in which modelling has played a part
  3. understand multi-agent simulation, and basic evolutionary computation and machine learning techniques
  4. run and analyse computer simulation experiments in order to test hypotheses about the cultural and biological evolution of linguistic behaviour
  5. modify existing simulations and construct novel ones
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Attend all lectures and labs as scheduled
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Simon Kirby
Tel: (0131 6)50 3494
Course secretaryMiss Toni Noble
Tel: (0131 6)51 3188
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