About the course
Our MA Sociolinguistics gives you the theoretical and analytical tools to understand and evaluate current work in sociolinguistics, and prepares you to undertake original research. We familiarise you with the foundations of contemporary sociolinguistics (language variation and change, discourse, multilingualism, ethnography of speaking) and offer modules in some of its most prominent sub-disciplines (variation theory, socio-pragmatics, conversation analysis, language contact, language and gender, and language rights). You gain first-hand experience of data collection and learn both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. You will take three compulsory modules and five optional modules.
Sociolinguistics I provides you with an introduction to language variation, highlighting both theoretical and methodological approaches to variationist sociolinguistics, focusing on exploring stylistic and cognitive aspects of language variation and change. Sociolinguistics II focuses on linguistic and functional aspects and mechanisms of language variation and change. Sociolinguistic Methods I gives you a foundation in some of the primary methods often used in sociolinguistic research for collection of interview, questionnaire and observation data. Sociolinguistics II focuses on quantitative and qualitative methodologies for coding and analysing sociolinguistic interview and questionnaire data. You will also write a dissertation on a topic of your choice. This is written between April and September.
Our course should interest you if you want to continue your study of linguistics, gaining a strong grounding in sociolinguistics. You will develop key employability skills including thinking analytically, researching, research design, data analysis, data collection, quantitative and qualitative methods, and essay writing. Our course can lead to a career in areas such as academia, secondary school teaching, forensics, publishing, administration, and public service.
Why study MA Sociolinguistics at Essex?
Our Department of Language and Linguistics offers you an outstanding teaching and research environment. In the 2012 Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey we received 87 percent overall satisfaction. At Essex you will experience a stimulating, but informal environment giving you many possibilities to pursue your own interests.
In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE, December 2008), we were rated as producing the highest proportion of world-leading linguistics research of any university in the UK. This means you will be taught, supported and supervised by staff with an international reputation for being at the forefront of research in a wide range of areas. We provide you with the ideal environment for your studies. We have a strong research group culture and run a weekly Departmental Seminar, which regularly features eminent outside speakers.
As a student on this course you will be able to take advantage of our extensive learning resources, including laboratories of networked computers. You will have access to our Albert Sloman Library which has a vast range of books and journals as well as more networked computers. Our Linguistics resource centre has four labs which will enhance your study. These encompass; a Eye tracking lab allowing you to monitor eye movement while performing tasks, a Psycholinguistics lab measuring how long it takes to react to words, texts and sounds, a ‘Visual World’ Experimental lab recording response times and eye movements when presented with pictures and videos and a Linguistics lab which has specialist equipment to analyse sound.
A Masters course is an academically rigorous programme during which you explore your subject in depth, reaching a high level of specialist knowledge. You draw on knowledge and skills from your undergraduate study or your professional life to produce work of a high academic standard, informed by current thinking and debate.
A full-time Masters course lasts for twelve months, starting in October, and consists of taught modules during your autumn and spring terms, and normally a research-based dissertation or other project-based work submitted in September. A part-time Masters course lasts for 24 months, normally starting in October, and consists of taught modules spread out over two years, with normally a research-based dissertation or other project-based work submitted in September of the second year. Each of the taught modules you take in the Department of Language and Linguistics counts for 15 credits. The total credit weighting for a Masters course is 180: 120 for taught modules and 60 for the MA dissertation. (If you are from the EU, then our Masters courses are regarded as ‘second-cycle’ qualifications under the Bologna Declaration and consist of 90 ECTS credits).
Core modules must be taken and passed.
Core with options modules selected from limited lists must be taken and passed.
Compulsory modules must be taken.
Compulsory with options modules selected from limited lists must be taken.
Optional modules are selected from course specific lists.
Your postgraduate study at Essex gives you an opportunity to develop your own ideas and interests, and to engage with thinking at the leading edge of your subject as part of the research community in our Department of Language and Linguistics, and our wider academic and professional community.
As a student of linguistics your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures, practical demonstrations and teaching yourself.
Assessment for modules taught by the Department of Language and Linguistics is typically involves written coursework, class tests and practical testing. Most modules that you will take will involve only coursework as assessment. During the summer, you will work on a dissertation that’s included in your final grade.
Teaching methods and styles
Our courses are designed to provide you with an advanced knowledge of contemporary theory, develop your research skills and build practical skills. The modules you take employ a variety of teaching methods with lectures that inform you, demonstrations that teach you skills and learning by teaching to develop your skills you learned through demonstrations. Our courses include both compulsory and optional modules, so the course can be tailored to fit your interests and aspirations.
If you are taking a Graduate or Postgraduate Diploma you do not need to do a dissertation.
If you are taking a Masters course, your 16,000-word dissertation allows you to focus in depth on your chosen topic from April onwards. This enables you to gain an in depth knowledge of an area that interests you, with close supervision by a member of staff within our Department.
Methods of assessment
Within our Department of Language and Linguistics, your eight one-term modules are assessed by coursework and you are also assessed on your 16,000-word dissertation, produced during the summer.
Seminars and conferences
Our Department of Language and Linguistics has a strong research group culture. We run a weekly departmental seminar, attended by both staff and students. These give you exposure to cutting-edge research on topical issues, provide a role model for your own presentations and give you the opportunity to meet up with speakers and discuss your own research and ideas with them.
Given the breadth of our provision within our Department of Language and Linguistics, career prospects for our graduates vary depending on the study undertaken. For example, many of our MA courses connect you with careers in computing, language disorders/speech therapy and management.
From most of our taught courses there is a natural progression to PhD study, using the research training in your MA. Often the career destination is university lecturing or research. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the areas of linguistics we cover, this could be in departments of English, linguistics, education, sociology or even cognitive science. Other careers our postgraduates have gone on to, where the generic skills they acquired with us are also valued, include publishing, social work, administration, retail and public speaking.
A postgraduate qualification is a major achievement and greatly valued by employers. Recent surveys show that higher degree graduates are more likely to obtain jobs at professional or managerial level and less likely to be unemployed. For some jobs a postgraduate qualification may be essential, for others it offers a competitive edge. Our graduates go into a variety of jobs, where the key employability skills and knowledge they have gained through postgraduate study are put to good use.
Our Languages for All programme lets you study a language, alongside your course, at no extra cost. You can take one of 50 taught language modules on a part-time day-time basis, or undertake flexible web-based learning, or opt for a language module taught in the evening. As employers can struggle to find graduates able to speak more than one language, Languages for All places Essex graduates in a very advantageous position.
If you achieve your Masters, you may wish to extend your knowledge with a research degree and many who graduate from Essex choose to stay here for research study. Some of our Masters may be taken as the first part of an Integrated PhD, leading to your PhD after a further three years of full-time study.
Support for postgraduates
Our University has a range of support services designed to help you to achieve your full potential and get the most out of your studies. These form a co-ordinated network of support, and are an important part of your overall student experience at Essex.
Our staff operate an 'open door' policy so are available to discuss any concerns with you throughout the year.
Research study opportunities
Within our Department of Language and Linguistics, we offer supervision for PhD and MPhil. Comprising 24 academic staff, we offer teaching and research supervision in: language acquisition, language learning and language teaching; culture and communication; psycholinguistics; language disorders; sociolinguistics; and theoretical and descriptive linguistics.
Our applicants should have a 1st, 2:1 or high 2:2 degree, or equivalent, in a relevant subject.
If English is not your first language, then we require IELTS 6.5 with 6 in writing or TOEFL iBT 88.