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Clinical speech and language studies

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What is Clinical speech and language studies?

The undergraduate programme in Clinical speech and language studies is a four-year professional honors course in speech and language therapy. Speech and language therapists work with people who have communication difficulties, helping them to find ways to maximise their speech, language and communication skills so that they can participate fully within society. They also assess, diagnose and treat people with swallowing difficulties.

Communication difficulties can occur at any stage in a person's life and they happen for a variety of reasons. Some are present at birth, others are due to accidents or illness later in life. Speech and language therapists commonly work with children who are delayed in their early language development and/or development of speech sounds. They also work with people who have acquired communication and/or swallowing problems (e.g. following stroke), people with physical impairments (e.g. cerebral palsy), learning difficulties (e.g. intellectual impairment, autism), people who stutter or have problems with their voice, people with written language problems (e.g. dyslexia) and people with mental health disorders. They often work as part of a multidisciplinary team that may include a teacher, psychologist, doctor, occupational therapist, nurse and social worker among others. Therapists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, community settings such as primary and continuing care clinics, in schools and/or day care centres or in some instances they may be situated within specialist clinics.

Is this the right course for you?

Do you enjoy working with people? Do you have a questioning approach to learning? Are you flexible and adaptable? Are you interested in how people communicate? As a speech and language therapist, you will come into contact with people of all ages and will have the option to work in a range of settings, including schools, community clinics, specialist clinics and hospitals. In almost all instances, you will also find yourself working with parents and/or families. While an interest in science and language is important, it is critical that you are people-oriented, adaptable and enjoy collaborative problem-solving. Visiting a speech language therapist at work is a good way to find out whether this is the profession for you.

Course overview

This course is for students who enjoy learning by doing. At all stages in the course, you will be involved in solving problems that mirror the problems people encounter in a clinical situation. Clinical placements are an important learning context right from the start. We have access to a wide range of clinical settings, to ensure that students get a broad range of experience, as well as an on-site clinic where you may be involved in clinical research projects.

This is a four-year degree which is recognised and accredited by the Health and Social Care Profesionals Council (CORU) and the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists. Over the four years, you will be expected to develop an in-depth understanding of communication development and disorders as well as swallowing disorders. Linguistics, psychology and biomedical sciences are major components of the course. You will also gain experience in research techniques, so that you can continue developing your knowledge base.

There are approximately twenty-four teaching hours per week in the Junior Freshman (first) year, including clinical visits.

The component courses are grouped under two headings: Theory and Clinical practice.

Theoretical component

Major subject areas include speech and language pathology, linguistics, psychology, discourse analysis, anatomy (studied through human dissection and lectures), physiology, neurology and audiology.

Teaching methods include lectures, tutorials and case-based learning, as well as group work in small teams to address problems using aspects of problem-based learning approach.

Clinical practice

During term time an average of one day per week is reserved for student clinical work. You will also be required to undertake clinical practice outside term time: a six-week block in the Junior Sophister (third) year and a one-week block in the Senior Sophister (fourth) year. A six- to eight-week block is also organised within term time in the Senior Sophister year. While you will generally attend clinics around Ireland, it may be possible, by special arrangement, to attend clinics in other countries.

PBL

Problem-based or problem-centred learning provides students with structured problems for specified learning objectives. Students work in groups (under supervision) to research how to ‘solve’ the problem set. They share their information with each other and develop important skills in teamwork. Many of the problems are assessed through group oral presentations and/or written assignments. Tutor feedback guides students at every stage.

The Freshman years - theoretical component:

In the Junior Freshman (first) year you will be introduced to the areas of language acquisition, speech sciences, human development and biomedical sciences. These courses will be the foundation for later years of study, and include modules in:

  • Clinical practice
  • Pre-clinical skills
  • Speech and hearing
  • Linguistics - introduction to language, the individual and society; Syntax; the CHILDES database
  • Phonetics - the study of vocal sounds
  • Psychology
  • General and neuro-anatomy (studied through lectures and human dissection)
  • Physiology - the study of the functions of living organisms

In the Senior Freshman (second) year, theoretical courses move to more specific areas and you will study:

  • Disorders of speech, language and communication and swallowing - you will learn about possible frameworks and tools for assessing skills in each of these areas, as well as how to ensure individuals with communication difficulties can participate in society
  • Clinical and experimental phonetics
  • Linguistics
  • Psychology

The Sophister years

In the Sophister (third and fourth) years the theoretical component of the course focuses more specifically on therapy approaches and clinical management. You also continue to study aspects of psychology, psychiatry and linguistics (i.e. discourse analysis).

The clinical component takes on greater significance in the final two years of the course. By the end of the Senior Sophister (fourth) year you will be expected to participate fully in assessment and diagnosis, as well as in therapy planning and implementation. Such work is supervised, with students learning self-evaluation and reflective skills during the process.

Assessment

Your theoretical knowledge is assessed by a combination of continuous assessment and written end-of-year examinations.

Practical clinical examinations take place both in Trinity College and in the clinics that you have been attending on placement. Clinical placements are examined on a continuous assessment basis by practice educators who work with you. There are additional assessment procedures where students are observed in practice, and present their clinical work for examination to College mentors.

The Trinity College degree and professional practice

On graduation, your qualification from Trinity College Dublin is recognised as a licence to practise as a Speech and Language Therapist in Ireland. Those holding the degree are eligible to apply for statuatory registration with CORU and membership of the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists (IASLT) www.iaslt.ie. Graduates who wish to work in the UK should contact the Health Professionals Council, www.hpc-uk.org. Graduates of the course who wish to work in another European country will have to apply for government approval in that country. If you are considering applying for professional recognition to work as a Speech-Language Pathologist in the US or Canada, you should contact the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association at: www.asha.org or the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists at www.caslpa.ca/english

Career opportunities

For more detailed information on your career prospects, visit the professional associations’ websites at www.iaslt.ie and www.rcslt.org

Further information

www.tcd.ie/slscs/clinical-speech-language

Tel: +353 1 896 1496

Specific Entry Requirements

Leaving CertificateOD3/HD3 Mathematics
In addition: HC3 In one of English, French, German, Irish, Italian, Russian or Spanish
HC3 In one of mathematics, applied mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, physics/chemistry or agricultural science
GCSE Grade C Mathematics
In addition:
Either
GCSEGrade B In one of physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics
Advanced GCE (A-Level)Grade C In one of English, French, German, Irish, Italian, Russian or Spanish
Or
GCSEGrade B In one of English, French, German, Irish, Italian, Russian or Spanish
Advanced GCE (A-Level)Grade C In one of physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics
See Precautions against infectious diseases http://www.tcd.ie/Admissions/undergraduate/requirements/infectiousdiseases/.
GARDA VETTING:Students will be required to undergo Garda vetting. See http://www.tcd.ie/Admissions/undergraduate/requirements/garda/ Garda vetting for further details.
Other EU examination systemsSee www.tcd.ie/Admissions/undergraduate/requirements/matriculation/other/

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