Programme developed in collaboration with:
The University Master in Forensic Linguistics provides a comprehensive knowledge of Forensic Linguistics. This discipline studies the relationship between language and law, using methods derived from information technology and statistics that allow forensic linguists to provide highly skilled services and reliable scientific and professional opinions, actions and advice which are then used in legal and judicial settings.
This is a two-year course that trains linguists specialised in analysing different manifestations of language, so that they can contribute to solving a police or other investigation on the basis of linguistic evidence, or to provide a basis for a judge's or jury's verdict or sentence in a judicial process.
The University Master in Forensic Linguistics comprises six subjects (Forensic Phonetics, Plagiarism Detection, Authorship Determination/Attribution, Language and the Law, Patents and Trademarks and Forensic Linguistic Mediation). Together these make up the competencies provided by the Master's Degree for two qualifications, that of Legal Linguistic Expert and Forensic Linguistic Mediator.
The Forensic Phonetics, Plagiarism Detection and Authorship Determination/Attribution subjects are orientated towards the role of linguistic expert and aligning participants' profiles with the requirements of linguistic expertise in real forensics cases.
The subjects Language and the Law, with one part focussed on Law for Linguists and another on Administrative, Legal and Judicial Language; Patents and Trademarks; and Forensic Linguistic Mediation, with one part on Forensic Discourse Analysis and another on Legal and Judicial Translation and Interpreting, also help to reinforce the competencies needed by experts in their work on real cases in legal organisations and law enforcement agencies, as well as in private companies. Above all, they will help future forensic linguists in their role as a legal linguistic expert or linguistic mediator, to better understand the judicial process in which he or she will have to later intervene.
The following organisations are currently involved in the provision of the programme: the Institut Universitari de Lingüistica Aplicada (IULA), the Col·legi Oficial de Doctors i Llicenciats en Filosofia i Lletres i en Ciències de Catalunya (CDL) and the Asociación de Traductores e Intérpretes Jurados de Cataluña (ATIJC)
The ForensicLab of the Institut Universitari de Lingüistica Aplicada (IULA) is responsible for the academic content of the University Master in Forensic Linguistics and has a close working relationship with the organisation that represents all forensic linguists internationally when it comes to research, training and expertise: the IAFL (International Association of Forensic Linguists) .
On 11 November 2008, Pompeu Fabra University signed an agreement with the Col·legi Oficial de Doctors i Llicenciats en Filosofia i Lletres i en Ciències de Catalunya, which has contributed towards institutionalising the figure of the Legal Linguistic Expert. The outcome of this agreement is that the CDL:
• Has granted recognition to the University Master in Forensic Linguistics as a quality programme.
• Has acknowledged it as a master's that guarantees the validity and reliability of the Legal Linguistic Expert and their expert's reports.
• Has listed the University Master in Forensic Linguistics as a registered qualification and will allow holders of this qualification to form part of the Register of Expert Witnesses in Linguistics created by the Association with the aim of introducing the Register to the competent judicial institutions.
• Will award a certificate to demonstrate that holders of this Master are included in said Register.
1) To train linguists and professionals from other fields who have the language analysis and technology skills needed to analyse the different linguistic manifestations related to the relationship between language and law, including a whole range of areas of research and study that are related to the use of linguistic evidence: Legal and Judicial Language and Probatory or Evidential Language.
2) To train linguists and professionals from other fields who have the language analysis and technology skills needed to work in the field of Probatory or Evidential Language, which includes:
• Forensic comparison of oral texts based on phonological, morphological, syntactic, discursive and terminological evidence. This comparison can lead
to the conclusive and reliable identification of a speaker's voice, as well as helping to classify that voice into a specific style, register or linguistic
• Forensic comparison of written texts based on morphological, syntactic, discursive and terminological evidence. This comparison can lead to determining or attributing the authorship of written texts and to detecting plagiarism much more accurately and reliably.
• Linguistic analysis of Trademarks and Patents.
3) To train linguists and professionals from other fields who have the language analysis and technology skills needed to work in the field of Legal
Language and Judicial Language.
All students must take the six compulsory subjects (42 ECTS credits in total), undertake an internship (9 ECTS credits) and produce a final piece of
work (9 ECTS credits) in which he or she will apply all the knowledge acquired during the programme.
Participants who have and can certify at least two years' experience in the field are not required to complete the internship credits.
Subject I. Forensic Phonetics (7 ECTS credits)
Subject II. Plagiarism Detection (7 ECTS credits)
Subject III. Authorship Determination/Attribution (7 ECTS credits)
Subject IV. Language and the Law (7 ECTS credits)
Subject V. Patents and Trademarks (7 ECTS credits)
Subject VI. Forensic Linguistic Mediation (7 ECTS credits)
Final Project (9 ECTS credits)
Internship (9 ECTS credits)
TOTAL (60 ECTS credits)
Areas of work
The main areas in which experts in Forensic Linguistics, and therefore future Legal Linguistic Experts work, are the following:
In judicial organisations and institutions:
• Forensic comparison of voices and linguistic profiles using tools which are now available through Speaking Technology, in order to make expert evidence regarding voice identification that is brought to a trial more conclusive and reliable.
• Forensic comparison of written texts with the purpose of either qualitatively or semi-automatically determining/attributing the authorship of a text, letter or anonymous note at a trial.
• Forensic comparison of written texts with the purpose of determining the existence of plagiarism in the authorship of song lyrics, novels, books, screenplays and translations, as well as in exam papers, course work and tests.
• Analysis of patents and trademarks, based on the elements of which they are composed, their linguistic formulations and origins, in order to define the brand's originality (potential for confusion with other trademarks) and any "generality" or "pseudo-generality", and if these trademarks have become generic, with an explanation of how this is reflected in lexicographical works, linguistic consultancy services and general language use.
• Analysis of the misrepresentation of facts in a public record.
• Interpretation and disambiguation of legal texts.
• Ilegal translation and interpreting, particularly in multilingual contexts.
In public institutions:
Work can be done in the areas outlined above, as well as in the provision of advice on:
• Legal language (laws, regulations, contracts) and the language of judicial processes (the language of judges, barristers, law enforcement agencies, witnesses, people standing trial) to make the discourse much more accessible to the general public and less ambiguous to the people involved in the judicial process, such as the members of a jury, or in police and courtroom interrogations.
In public institutions and private enterprises:
Work can be done in the areas outlined in the two paragraphs above, as well as:
• Linguistic advice on simplifying internal documents and making them more accessible to employees.
• Linguistic advice on simplifying the writing of documents for clients, such as the small print in insurance policies.
• Determining authorship of letters or anonymous messages in cases of extortion, blackmail, threats, etc.