About the course
Applied linguistics addresses real-life language problems through insights gained from current linguistic theory, psychology and education.
Our MA is designed for people who want to know more about how foreign or second languages (particularly English) are learned, and how different kinds of classroom practice might affect proficiency. You explore different approaches to understanding language and language acquisition, and the methods that can be used to investigate language learning and teaching.
You can choose areas of special study from a wide range of options, including:
- Teaching speaking and listening skills to language learners
- Psychological factors in second language learning
- Computer-assisted language-learning
- Literature and language-learning
- Age and bilingual development
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’, 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.
This course is also available on a part-time basis.
Our expert staff
Our staff are internationally renowned. 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 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, Christina Gkonou and Tracey Costley 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
Our course can lead to careers in areas such as academic research, publishing, journalism, administration, public service and teaching. You develop key employability skills including research design, data analysis, thinking analytically, report writing and public speaking.
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.
One Masters not enough for you?
We offer a number of postgraduate taught double degrees with our international partners. You work for two Masters degrees, one at Essex and another at a prestigious university across the globe, gaining them both in a shorter time than studying them separately. This unique opportunity gives you a competitive edge when applying for jobs or prepares you for PhD study.
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 interests you? Write a 16,000-word dissertation on a research topic of your choosing, with supervision from our expert staff. Gain research planning, organisational and project management skills while increasing your knowledge of the subject. Build your research abilities for future employment or a PhD.
Are you ready to write your dissertation? Build your knowledge of the standard practices for writing assignments and dissertations. Understand the common research methodologies and paradigms used in applied linguistics and TESOL.
What are the similarities between first and second language acquisition? And what are the differences? How does this change between child and adult second language acquisition? Study the key concepts around language acquisition. Evaluate, compare and contrast the main theories and empirical research.
What are research methods? What are the differences between quantitative and qualitative research? Learn more about the research tools available for studying applied linguistics and TEFL. Examine each available research method in-depth. Build your understanding, while preparing for your MA dissertation or other future research projects.
Are you ready for your dissertation? What qualitative research methods are suitable for your research? Learn more about the qualitative research methods and statistical techniques that you could use for your MA dissertation or other future research projects.
Do you want to explore in some depth a research question that has emerged from one of your modules? Are you keen to do some independent research? Survey the existing literature on a topic that has intrigued you. Prepare the ground for your MA dissertation, under the watchful eye of a supervisor.
What psychological factors impact on second language learning? Study a range of cognitive variables that influence people's success when learning a second language. Undertake your own piece of research into a variable of your choice, eg learning style or language learning aptitude, and gain useful experience for your future Masters project in the process.
What are the qualities of a good TEFL teacher? What roles do teachers play in different lessons? How do you manage a language learning classroom? How important are teaching aims and learning outcomes for each lesson? Explore the range of materials, practical activities and resources available for teaching grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.
What is the difference between EFL “systems lessons” and “skills lessons”? How can the skills of reading, listening, speaking and writing be developed at different proficiency levels? Develop effective techniques for motivating language learners. Consider the importance of learner errors and techniques for dealing with them. Examine different classroom interaction patterns for teaching and learning and consider the importance of group-work and pair-work for language practice.
What are the main issues in teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP)? How do you conduct EAP Needs Analysis? Discuss EAP and the role played by Needs Analysis. Examine the importance of the four EAP skills areas. Evaluate EAP teaching and learning materials. Critically assess and design your own work.
How do you select literature for a language class? What are the distinctive features of literature for classroom use? What practical activities can language teachers undertake using literature? Learn to incorporate literature into the language classroom. Examine novels, poetry and drama, and understand how to use drama in the classroom.
What are the differences and similarities between music and language? How are language and music represented in the brain? Learn how to compare musical and linguistic sound systems. Understand the relationship between rhythm, meaning and emotion in speech and in music. Discover how music and language have evolved.
Want to work as a language teacher? Or conduct second language vocabulary research? Study how second language vocabulary can be taught, assessed and researched. Examine the latest research on how second language learners use vocabulary. Learn how to examine the vocabulary knowledge of EFL learners.
What are the key trends in teaching young learners? How do you motivate young learners? Or deal with their anxiety? Examine theories regarding teaching and assessment of young learners. Understand how children develop and how this affects learning. Analyse different teaching styles. Learn to use technology safely in the classroom.
How do you teach listening and speaking in a second language? Understanding the cognitive aspects and the teaching and learning strategies. Looking at and evaluating the different methodological approaches to teaching second language speaking and listening in relation to learner context, and choosing appropriate materials for your class.
How important is age when learning another language? Study the role that age plays in bilingual development. Examine second language acquisition in both naturalistic and classroom settings, alongside first and second language attrition. Explore current theories on bilingual development, evaluating the empirical evidence and learning implications from such research.
Is learning all about cognitive processes? What is the role of psychological factors in successful language learning and teaching? Why do foreign language teachers need to know about their learners?
Why should we use computers in the language classroom? When is their use appropriate? And how do you best use them? Study computer-assisted language learning (CALL), so that you understand the arguments for and against. Create CALL tasks using available tools and become familiar with a range of CALL resources.
- 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
A degree with an overall 2:1.
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.
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.
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.