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QE English Language Students Call in the Forensics

Date Posted: 14/06/2023 | Posted In: Latest news

Inspired A Level English Language students from QE have discovered the importance of forensic linguistics in solving crimes following a visit to the College by Dr. Georgina Brown from Lancaster University. The university lecturer delivered four interactive sessions focusing on the fascinating topic of forensic linguistics – the analysis of the language in texts in criminal and civil law cases. During the classes, students were tasked with determining the authorship of text messages and voices in audio recordings with Georgina using the real-life case of Jenny Nicholl as an example. Following Jenny’s disappearance in 2005, police were able to convict her ex-boyfriend of her murder after an investigation into a number of text messages allegedly sent by Jenny found that he had been composing them. Assuming the role of forensic linguists, the enthusiastic English Language students analysed key features of the messages and noticed patterns in numbers and word contractions, allowing them to obtain an insight into this exciting field of work.

First year student, Eli Weems, who studies A Level English Language and Health and Social Care at QE, describes the workshop as ‘really enjoyable and interesting.’ Fellow first year, Gracie Ahmed, who is enrolled on A Level English Language, Health and Social Care, and Sociology adds: ‘The sessions made me realise how many different career paths exist within linguistics.’ Georgina remarked that it had been a pleasure to travel to the North East and engage with QE students through her taster experience. She comments: ‘The staff and students were very welcoming at the College. More than that, the students identified linguistic features in the data that I hadn’t found myself!’

Paul Heselton, Course Leader for A Level English Language at QE, concludes: ‘It was great to see how the analysis of real-life data is used to resolve legal cases. Forensic linguistics is an occupational area that is completely new to many of our students. Following the workshops with Georgina, perhaps some of them will progress to careers where their linguistic skills will help the police in solving crimes.’

To find out more about QE’s A Level English Language course, please contact Laurence Job, Deputy Principal at ljob@qeliz.ac.uk.