• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Linguistics

This course focuses on the role linguistics has within the rapidly growing field of forensic science. Forensic linguistics is a diverse field that not only has applications in legal and criminal investigation, but also makes important contributions to the military, government and business, and can contribute to literary, historical and cultural studies. Whether it is a dispute over who wrote Shakespeare’s plays, or which suspect had threatened a murder victim, the challenge is to associate a text or utterance with a specific individual.

In this course we examine how written and spoken texts, documents and recordings, can be analysed to identify authorship, or to correct or better understand their content. We also learn about the use of computational and statistical tools in linguistic analyses, and connections to related fields such as biometrics and speech recognition. The course has no prerequisites; the necessary basic linguistic and statistical ideas and tools will be introduced and explained, making the course a very practical and topical introduction to linguistics.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Understand the role of expert evidence relating to language in court , and review and assess the strength of evidence presented by expert witnesses
  2. Understand the different types of linguistic data that can be used as evidence.
  3. Select and apply appropriate methods for identifying authorship of texts
  4. Understand the potentials and limits of forensic voice identification
  5. Explain, and argue for the role of language and linguistics in the legal system

Indicative Assessment

1x tutorial presentation and 1000 word report due before semester break (20%) (LO 1, 2, 5)

1x 1000 word practical exercise in voice identification/authorship analysis due after semester break (20%) (LO 3, 4)

1x tutorial presentation on essay in final week (10%) (LO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

3000 word essay due in exam period (50%) (LO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


This course has 3 contact hours per week (lectures and tutorials) that may be held in a 3 hour block.

In addition to the required contact hours (lectures and tutorials), it is expected that students will spend an additional 6-7 hours per week on this course.

Prescribed Texts


John Olsson (2010 edition) Forensic Linguistics: An Introduction to Language, Crime and the Law. New York/London, Continuum. ISBN: 9780826493088

Gerald R. McMenamin (ed.) (2002) Forensic Linguistics: Advances in Forensic Stylistics. London/New York, CRC Press. ISBN: 9780849309663




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $3576
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4311 15 Feb 2016 26 Feb 2016 31 Mar 2016 27 May 2016 In Person N/A

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