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Language and Communication


Entry requirements

Only open to students that are admitted to the Minor Brain and Cognition.


In this 5 EC course we will discuss experimental studies and comparative analyses of the language and communication systems of human and non-human animals. We will specifically focus on the human language system and on comparative studies involving songbirds and human infants.


Upon completion of this course, students will:

  • Gain knowledge about recent theories and (comparative) experimental studies in the field of language and communication in humans and non-human animals;

  • Understand the difference between language and communication; and

  • Understand the similarities and differences of vocal learning in humans and non-human animals.

Mode of Instruction

8 2-hour seminars


The timetable for this course can be found on this website.
Always keep an eye on Blackboard and check with your course coordinator for potential changes.


  • Group presentation (20%) about a proposition concerning evolution of language. Students will grade each others’ presentations (40%) and will receive a grade by the lecturers (60%)

  • Exam (80%)
    Weighted average of these two components should be > 5.5 to pass. Attendance of lectures is not obligatory but lecture content is obligatory study material.
    Resit for presentation: give presentation for lecturers.

Reading list

  • Journal articles, to be announced

Contact information

For questions about enrolment, please contact the coordinator of the minor in Brain and Cognition

For questions about the course, please contact the course coordinators:
Dr. J. Witteman