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MRes Experimental Linguistics

Why we're great

  • Specialist modules enable you to gain expertise in research methodology and experimental design
  • Our world-class facilities include a 'Visual World' experimental lab, an eye-tracking lab, and a psycholinguistics lab
  • We're Top 10 in the UK for our research quality - our staff are internationally renowned

Course options2017-18

Duration: 1 year
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Language and Linguistics
Fee (Home/EU): £6,125
Fee (International): £15,450
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
PGT fees information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719
Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

Our MRes Experimental Linguistics provides tailored support for the researcher-in-training at the interface of theoretical and experimental work in linguistics.

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, specialist modules enable you to gain expertise in the research methodology and experimental design required to conduct empirical research in linguistics. You develop your ability to design experiments, collect and analyse data, and critique recent experimental studies, as well as exploring essential qualitative and statistical techniques.

You also choose from a range of topics across our core areas of linguistics, and in psycholinguistics and language acquisition, including:

  • Multilingualism and Language Disorders
  • Theoretical and descriptive phonology
  • Experimental design and analysis
  • Music, language and the brain
  • Syntactic 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 sociolinguistics, Peter Patrick, Rebecca Clift, Enam Al Wer and Vineeta Chand all work on different aspects of how language varies, and investigate which factors cause such variation. Peter is also involved in language rights, and offers expert opinions in asylum cases where language is used to determine origin.

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.

In psycholinguistics, Sonja Eisenbeiss, Claire delle Luche and Fang Liu use experimental techniques to understand how children learn language, how adults process language, and what happens when language ability is impaired by brain disorders.

Specialist facilities

  • 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

Your future

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.

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Example structure

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.

Year 1

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.

Wish to undertake psycholinguistic experiments? Work as a group on designing and preparing your own psycholinguistic research. As a team, collect and organise your experimental data. Use descriptive and inferential statistics to analyse your findings. Produce your own report that discusses your theoretical and methodological outcomes.

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.

Can sounds be analysed in terms of their constituent components of voicing, place and manner of articulation? Which features of sound are relevant for distinguishing word meanings? Is there a set of universal constraints on the way that sounds are related to mental representations? Acquire a solid understanding of phonological analysis, and apply that understanding to new data in a variety of languages.

What types of word structure are there in the world’s languages? Study the principal descriptive and theoretical questions in morphology. Analyse morphological phenomena in a variety of languages and understand differences in competing approaches to morphology.

Why do speakers of English initially think that sentences like “The horse raced past the barn fell” are ungrammatical? Why are sentences like “The mouse the cat chased stole the cheese” more difficult to understand than “The mouse stole the cheese and the cat chased the mouse”? Learn about the principles of sentence and discourse processing that guide language understanding. Conduct experiments testing how speakers respond to structurally different types of sentences.

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 main phenomena of syntax and how can we describe and explain them? Study the properties of syntactic categories, subjects, complements and adjuncts, raising and control sentences, and long distance dependencies. Learn the importance of precise and explicit descriptions, of dealing with the full range of relevant data, and of accommodating different kinds of languages.

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.

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.

Teaching

  • Teaching methods include lectures, demonstrations and learning by teaching others
  • We run a weekly departmental seminar, attended by both staff and students

Assessment

  • Your eight one-term modules are assessed by coursework and you are also assessed on your dissertation

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

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Qualifications

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. Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk 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.

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Applying

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.

Visit us

Open days

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 tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

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.

Exhibitions

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.

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