About the course
Compared to our MA courses, our MRes programmes offer more flexibility and fewer taught modules, as the emphasis of your course is on your dissertation and individual research assignments. You must have a draft research proposal at your application stage, and a supervisor is assigned to you to guide your choice of modules and work on your dissertation.
On this course, you gain familiarity with contemporary work in sociolinguistics and related fields such as conversation analysis, and acquire the theoretical and practical skills to pursue original research.
You cover topics including:
- Quantitative and qualitative methodologies for analysing sociolinguistic data
- Interview, questionnaire and observation data
- Sociocultural factors in language use
- Variationist sociolinguistic theory
We are one of the largest and most prestigious language and linguistics departments in the world, a place where talented students become part of an academic community in which the majority of research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014), placing us firmly within the top 10 departments in the UK and among the top 150 departments on the planet (QS World University Rankings 2016).
If you want a global outlook, are interested in human communication, and want to study for a degree with real-world practical value in a world-class department, welcome to Essex.
Our expert staff
Our staff are internationally renowned (REF 2014). Their books dominate the reading lists at other universities. We maintain excellent student-staff ratios, and we integrate language learning with linguistics wherever there is synergy.
In theoretical linguistics, Doug Arnold, Bob Borsley, Louisa Sadler, and Mike Jones work on the structure of sentences, focusing on English and other languages; Andrew Spencer investigates how complex words are created; and Nancy Kula and Wyn Johnson work on sound structure.
In applied linguistics, Florence Myles, Monika Schmid, Sophia Skoufaki, Karen Roehr-Brackin, Adela Gánem-Gutiérrez, and Roger Hawkins focus on the learning of second and further languages, whilst Julian Good, and Christina Gkonou focus on issues to do with the classroom teaching of English as a foreign language.
- Our Languages for All programme offers you the opportunity to study an additional language alongside your course at no extra cost
- Meet other language enthusiasts through our student-run Linguistics Society
- Our ‘Visual World’ Experimental Lab records response times and eye movements when individuals are presented with pictures and videos
- Our Eye-Tracking Lab monitors eye movement of individuals performing tasks
- Our Psycholinguistics Lab measures how long it takes individuals to react to words, texts and sounds
- Our Linguistics Lab has specialist equipment to analyse sound
- An exciting programme of research seminars and other events
- Our Albert Sloman Library houses a strong collection of books, journals, electronic resources and major archives
On our course you develop key employability skills including thinking analytically, research design, data collection using quantitative and qualitative methods, data analysis and essay writing. Our course can lead to a career in areas such as academia, secondary school teaching, forensics, publishing, administration, and public service.
We work with the University’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Within our Department of Language and Linguistics, we also offer supervision for PhD and MPhil. We offer supervision in areas including language acquisition, language learning and language teaching, culture and communication, psycholinguistics, language disorders, sociolinguistics, and theoretical and descriptive linguistics.
Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.
For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.
What research topic fascinates you? Can you write 22,000 words about it? Investigate a dissertation topic of your choosing, with supervision from our expert staff. Undertake careful planning and research to produce a substantial piece of writing. Build your knowledge of the subject, alongside your project management skills and research abilities.
How do we bring off the everyday miracle of having a conversation? This introduction to Conversation Analysis (CA) will examine the mechanics of interaction, showing us with how verbal and non-verbal actions are coordinated in time.
What are the linguistic differentiations of women and men? Critically evaluate sociolinguistic explanations of sex differences in linguistic behaviour and language use. Understand how this research impacts on sociolinguistic theory, methodology and practice. Conduct your own research into gender differentiation.
What is the distinction between a speaker's words and what a speaker might mean by those words? We examine the relationship between language and the world, and the sort of knowledge we need to have to understand language in use.
Learn sociolinguistic research approaches to dialectology, variation, ethnography of speech, and discourse analysis by actually doing them. You’ll sample speaker populations, approach informants ethically, carry out participant observation, design questionnaires and other instruments, use digital recorders in sociolinguistic interviews to elicit natural speech, collect personal narratives, and analyse linguistic variation.
How do you use qualitative and quantitative methodologies to code and analyse sociolinguistic data? What software programs can assist with this? Understand the primary data coding and analysis methods for sociolinguistic research. Gain preparation in data analysis and presentation of your research and findings.
How does language change over time, vary across communities, and what do social alignments help explain about language variation and change? Explore the relationship between sociolinguistic theories and social groupings. Examine current sociolinguistic debates regarding language variation and change.
How did the accents and dialects of English develop? What are the differences between them? Become skilful in identifying where speakers are from on the basis of their accent. Gain a sound understanding of the major changes which have affected English over the last 1,000 years.
What factors determined the varieties of English which evolved in Wales, Scotland and Ireland? How can you tell a New Zealander from an Australian? Investigate the different accents of English spoken outside England. Understand how English changed as it spread across the globe.
- Teaching methods include lectures, demonstrations and learning by teaching others
- We run a weekly departmental seminar, attended by both staff and students
- Your eight one-term modules are assessed by coursework and you are also assessed on your dissertation
- Your 16,000-word dissertation allows you to focus in-depth on your chosen topic from April onwards
- Close supervision by a member of staff within our Department
UK entry requirements
We will consider applications with an overall grade of 2:2 and above.
International and EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries.
for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the
undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.
IELTS entry requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.0 in writing
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.
There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.
We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:
- tour our campus and accommodation
- find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
- meet our students and staff
If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.