About the course
How do our age, sex, social background and regional origins affect the way we speak? How do languages change over the course of time, and why? How do children learn to talk? Why do some languages appear so different from others? Linguists study these and other questions to gain insight into what it means to “know a language”. An understanding of our language enhances our self-awareness, inspiring us to address fundamental questions about our communication as human beings.
Linguistics is an increasingly important subject, impacting on areas in psychology, philosophy, education and artificial intelligence. It has real-world applications in such diverse fields as human rights, computer-assisted language learning, and the study of institutional language in settings like doctor-patient interactions, interviewer-interviewee dialogues, and courtroom exchanges.
Our course offers you a solid grounding in linguistics, while still allowing for a large amount of personal choice. You explore a wide range of core topics in linguistics, mastering key concepts in phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics, and also investigate specialist areas including:
- Multilingualism and language impairment
- Language, identity and gender
- Metaphor, irony and style
- Language and the mind
- 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 ranked among the top 150 departments on the planet according to the QS World [University] Rankings  for linguistics.
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.
“My time at Essex helped me to become a more confident and independent person. In my final year I was offered an internship with a partner university in Germany, and experiencing a new culture was fantastic. I’m now working with a charity, helping migrant workers improve their English language skills.”
Natilly Macartney, BA English Language and Linguistics, 2013
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.
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 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 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.
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
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.
If you already have your results and want to apply for 2016 entry through Clearing, complete our Clearing application form
and we’ll get back in touch with you or give us a ring
to discuss your grades.
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.