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BA English Language and Linguistics

Why we're great

  • In your final year, all your modules are optional so you can tailor your degree to suit your interests and career goals.
  • You are taught by lecturers who are internationally recognised for their language research.
  • You join our diverse community of students from all corners of the globe - the world in one place.

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: QQ13
Duration: 3 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Language and Linguistics
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: QQ3D
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Language and Linguistics
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: QQ15
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Language and Linguistics
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666

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About the course

What is the range of sounds found in human languages? Which of those sounds are used by English to construct words? How are words combined to form meaningful sentences in English, and are the same patterns of combination found in other languages? How do children acquire English sounds, words and sentence structure? These are some of the questions you will address in the course.

Language is central to all human activity from weighty negotiations between nation states to spontaneous conversations in cafés. Through your study of language, you come to understand the nature of a human social life.

Foundational modules in the first and second year will teach you how to analyse linguistic sound systems, word structure, sentence structure, meaning and language use, and apply your knowledge to the analysis of English. You will then be able to make informed choices about areas of English or Linguistics you want to study in greater depth through study options, such as:

  • Sociolinguistics
  • Phonetics
  • Language, Mind and Communication
  • Conversation and Social Interaction
  • Child Language Acquisition and Language Disorders
  • American Languages

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).

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.

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond our University campus. We support you extending your education by offering you an additional year at no extra cost. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend your third year studying abroad or employed on a placement, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

Placement year

On a placement year you can gain relevant work experience within an external business, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.

Our expert staff

Our staff are internationally recognised for their language research (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 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, and Christina Gkonou 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

The study of linguistics provides the opportunity for plenty of hands-on experience as well as theoretical work. You might be studying texts, listening to interviews, or analysing sounds, so we provide extensive facilities to allow you to fully engage with a wide variety of linguistic methods:

  • 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

Studying language and linguistics allows you to develop your research and IT skills by collecting and analysing linguistic data using state-of-the-art technology, and a combination of team-work and independent projects enhances your communication, problem-solving, and management skills.

Our graduates have gone on to have careers in a wide variety of fields, including teaching, journalism,, advertising, marketing, travel, communications, publishing, speech and language therapy, and business administration.

For example, some of our department’s recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:

  • The British Council
  • English in Action
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Norfolk Constabulary

We also work with the University’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore 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 just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.

Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

This module introduces you to the production of language sounds and their distribution in words, in particular, but not exclusively, in English. You will study the basic principles of phonology and develop the knowledge required to understand and begin to analyse sound systems. You will also discuss phonological processes and investigate the context and motivation of occurrence.

Develop three important skills for your future studies in this mixture of lecture and lab sessions: Tools of the trade – brush up on your ICT skills; Presentational skills – get to grips with talking in front of an audience as well as presenting written ideas; Analytical skills – refine your analytical skills for academic and non-academic work. By the time you’ve completed this module, you will be equipped with a skill set will see you through your studies and beyond.

Discover the role of variation in language systems, and learn the techniques and concepts needed to study the way language varies. You will look at geographical, social and historical dialects, explore language myths, and cover topics such as measuring language variation, social patterns and functions of language variation, speaker variables, and the relationship of language variation to language change. At the end of this module, you will have gained a clear understanding of the role variation plays in language systems, and will be able to look critically at the social functions and values of dialects and vernacular language usage.

Discover how to describe and analyse the structure of words, phrases, and sentences in this introductory half module. With topics including the English parts of speech, word structure and the distinction between inflection, derivation and compounding, and the identification of phrases, you will gain a solid grasp of the foundational material for the study of English linguistics, whilst developing useful analytical skills.

What are your skills? And how do they fit in with your career plans? Build your employability skills through this non-credit bearing but obligatory module. Attend workshops and events, engage in activities to raise your employability and build your knowledge of the graduate job market.

Gain a thorough overview of key concepts, methods, and theoretical approaches in research on language development throughout the lifespan. Investigate monolingual and bilingual child language acquisition, second language acquisition, language loss, and the attrition of the first language in second language learners, by looking at a broad range of studies, including ongoing studies from the Centre for Language Development throughout the Lifespan (LaDeLi), at the University of Essex.

How are words organised in our brain? How do we understand sentences? What is the relationship between language, music, and the brain? Find the answers to these questions by taking a critical look at findings from a broad range of studies, whilst learning about key concepts, methods, and theoretical approaches in research on language processing.

Do you dream of a career that could take you around the world? This module will introduce you to the fundamentals of English Language Teaching, showing how the theory of linguistics, pedagogy and psychology all shape classroom practice. You will look at the variety, purpose, content and contexts of ELT, focussing on the classroom, the language, and the different participants in the learning process, and will cover everything from the role of the teacher to classroom management.

Build on your knowledge acquired in LG117 in this complementary module, which will introduce you to the fundamentals of contemporary language teaching practice. Discover how classroom practice is shaped by background theory, covering aspects of linguistics, pedagogy and psychology. By the end of this module, you will be familiar with some of the main issues relating to TEFL, know more about the factors which influence second language learning and how they can inform teaching practice, and become familiar with some of the varied outlooks to teaching vocabulary, grammar, comprehension and communication skills.

Year 2

Continuing from LG110, you will build on your existing knowledge, reinforcing the cognitive aspect of spoken language, the way in which sounds combine to make up words, and the interaction between word formation and phonology, as well as phonology in the wider context of phrases. The theory you learn throughout this module can be used to analyse other languages.

What is 'meaning' as it relates to words and sentences? How is the meaning of a sentence affected by the context it is produced in? These are the fundamental issues you will address in this module. You will examine the relationship between what is said and what is meant, with the first part of the course looking at basic issues in Semantics. The second part of the course will examine the distinction between a speaker's words and what a speaker means by those words – the domain of pragmatics.

Build on analytical concepts introduced in your first year, and investigate a range of key grammatical constructions in English. With an emphasis on description, rather than a particular theoretical approach, this practically orientated module will provide you with a solid foundation for tackling more theoretical options in English linguistics. As well as gaining an understanding of key areas of English grammar and grammatical terminology, you will also equip yourself with analytical, data, and evaluation skills.

Discover the steps involved in undertaking a research project in language and linguistics and develop your own final-year project. Topics include: Reviewing literature; Formulating research questions and hypotheses; Choosing a suitable research design; Data collection; Analysis techniques; Reporting findings. You will learn through a mixture of lectures, seminars and lab sessions to build your knowledge, skills, and confidence in researching, structuring, and writing a research project.

What are your skills? And how do they fit in with your career plans? Build your employability skills through this non-credit bearing but obligatory module. Attend workshops and events, engage in activities to raise your employability and build your knowledge of the graduate job market.

The module introduces you to the field of second language learning, from an applied linguistics perspective. You will cover key topics and questions in the field, such as how second language learning differs from first language learning, the role of the learner's age in the second language learning process, the influence of the first language on the second (and vice versa), the role of the learning context and social dimensions of second language learning, cognitive processes underpinning language learning, the stages of development of learner language, and the role of individual learner variables.

Building on your knowledge gained in earlier modules, the focus of this module is on the phonetics involved in the pronunciation of English and the relationship between phonetics and phonology to offer explanations for some observed phenomena. As part of your studies, you will cover both articulatory and acoustic phonetics.

The aim of this module is to examine language variation according to social, contextual and linguistic factors. You will look at how language is actually used, how people feel about it, and how the two are often opposed – including how the structure of language interacts with both. You will consider language as a resource to convey cultural and personal identity, and what it reveals of language attitudes and social structure, and therefore of status and inequality in areas such as social class, gender, age, and ethnicity. You will explore how social identity illuminates variation in language, and cover topics such as regional and social dialects, language rights, and language variation and change.

Building on your existing knowledge of Psycholinguistics, this module aims to familiarise you with processes of language development and language change that may occur throughout the lifespan of an individual. You will look at some of the most common theoretical approaches to language learning and gain an insight into both monolingual and bilingual language development from infancy to puberty. You will also look into how and why some parts of language proficiency may be lost.

Final year

How do children develop phonologically? And how does this change if they have delayed or disordered speech? Examine how phonological theories have been applied to first language data. Apply the knowledge you gain to sample data sets of child speech.

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.

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?

What fascinates you about linguistics? Work independently on an extended project of your choosing within linguistics, with supervision from our expert staff. Build your subject knowledge, as well as your research skills and project management abilities.

How has English evolved over the centuries? Examine English from its Indo-European and Germanic origins, through Old English and Middle English, to Modern English. Build your understanding of the main grammatical changes that have taken place, particularly the syntactic and morphological changes.

How can we explain our intuitive judgements about the acceptability of English sentences and the meanings that they convey? How accurate are the descriptions proposed in traditional grammars? Gain a detailed understanding of how English grammar works. Learn how to solve grammatical problems for yourself.

What are your skills? And how do they fit in with your career plans? Build your employability skills through this non-credit bearing but obligatory module. Attend workshops and events, engage in activities to raise your employability and build your knowledge of the graduate job market.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.


  • Teaching is arranged to allow freedom in how you organise your learning experience
  • Examples of practical work include digitally recording dialect speakers in a small traditional fishing community, or scouring digitised child language databanks
  • Other teaching methods include lectures, demonstrations and learning by teaching others


  • You are assessed through a combination of coursework (assignments, essays and tests) and end-of-year examinations
  • Weighted 50% coursework and 50% examinations
  • In your final year, you conduct research on a topic chosen with one of your lecturers, for your dissertation. Your lecturer supports you throughout your project and is an expert in the research area.
  • Other methods of assessment include graded participation in seminars and classes, presentations, or group work

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UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB

IB: 30 points. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Entry requirements for students studying BTEC qualifications are dependent on units studied. Advice can be provided on an individual basis. The standard required is generally at Distinction level.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)

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.

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.

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Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have 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

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing 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.


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.


Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

Visit days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our visit days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your visit day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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