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Department of Human Communication Sciences (HCS)

Making a difference

The Department of Human Communication Sciences has an international reputation for high-quality research and teaching in human communication and its disorders. With over 350 students on undergraduate, postgraduate, research and diploma programmes, we specialise in the education and training of speech and language therapists and deliver postgraduate courses for a range of professionals working with children and adults with communication difficulties. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education awarded our teaching the highest grade possible in all the assessed categories. The most recent Research Assessment Exercise confirms our status as world-class. We rank as one of the UK’s top two HCS research departments.

We house our own speech and language therapy clinic, the Philippa Cottam Communication Clinic, which offers services to adults and children and conducts research in a range of areas, in particular, neurological disorders of communication.

Our research

Our research focuses on theoretical questions about speech, language and communication and the application of research to practice in health and educational settings. Research is funded by


government, research councils and charities. Research and teaching are conducted in collaboration with the NHS. Our multidisciplinary approach draws on linguistics, phonetics, speech and language pathology, psychology, education, cognitive neuroscience, medicine and computer science.

Research in the department helps improve the speech and language ability of children and adults, and people with acquired brain lesions and developmental disorders. We have produced software programmes that allow people with post- stroke speech impairments to self-administer therapy. Research into the relationship between language and thought has revealed evidence of sophisticated intellectual abilities in people with profound language impairment and has indicated that such individuals should be seen as competent to make decisions about their lives.

Our main research clusters are:

Speech, Language and Literacy: Development, Difficulties and Intervention This group’s research combines theoretical investigations into the nature of spoken and written language difficulties with the application to practice in home, school and clinic settings. Participants include children with speech difficulties including: dyspraxia and stammering; dyslexia; auditory processing difficulties; Down Syndrome; Cleft Palate and associated Syndromes; autism; learning difficulties; and behaviour problems. Studies also include typically developing children, adolescents and

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