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BA Modern Languages and Linguistics

Why we're great

  • Great flexibility and choice: You can study up to four languages choosing between French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese from beginner or post-A level standard. Mandarin Chinese is available at beginner’s level.
  • We specialise in developing translation, interpreting and subtitling skills at undergraduate level using the latest technology in our multimedia labs.
  • Our study abroad opportunities include studying at a partner university, combining study and work experience, or taking up a British council assistantship.

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: RQ91
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
Email admit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

Explore both the theoretical aspects of the language we use, and acquire the practical ability to speak another language. Any understanding of 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.

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

You also study up to two of French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin Chinese, completing at least one language to Mastery level. Each of these languages is widely used in the business world, and can take you to a level of near-fluency, and so many of our graduates go on to develop successful global careers with international firms looking for language specialists.

We also offer a month-long summer course with fees paid for by us if you start a language from scratch via the intensive route.

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 [2016] 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.

“The Department of Language and Linguistics is very friendly and well-organised; everyone is made to feel welcome and students are all offered advice or guidance if they need it, particularly in their first year. Being a student at Essex was one of the best and most important experiences of my life!”

Trevor Katsanis, BA Modern Languages, 2011

Study abroad

Our course offers three possibilities for your year abroad. The first allows you to study at one of the prestigious universities with which we have exchange links. You continue to study modules relevant to your course, learning your chosen languages within a country that speaks them, and you pay no tuition fees for your time overseas.

The second allows you to work as a language assistant, thereby acquiring valuable professional experience in an international context in addition to earning money.

Alternatively, you can study at a university abroad for one term in your third year, after which you work with an organisation in the same country. This unique experience helps you stand out when applying for jobs.

Whichever option you choose, 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.

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 addition to helping you acquire practical foreign language skills, our staff share their expertise with you in the areas of theoretical linguistics, sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, and psycholinguistics.

Specialist facilities

  • Our Languages for All programme offers you the opportunity to study an additional language alongside your course at no extra cost
  • 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
  • Access to two multimedia language teaching labs which are equipped with state-of-the-art Sanako and Melissi Digital Classroom software, and fitted with computers integrating audio-visual projectors and large screens
  • A new 20-position Interpreting Lab
  • Meet other linguists and practice your language skills at our Language Cafés
  • Experience world cinema at our Modern Languages film club

Your future

Companies and organisations in the UK and abroad are struggling to find university graduates who are fluent in at least one other language, apart from English.

Being an Essex modern languages graduate places you in a very advantageous position. You will be able to speak and write fluently, or to a very competent standard, in up to four languages. Language skills are in scarce supply and can be used in almost any job.

Our graduates become teachers, translators, administrators and journalists. Their valued language skills have enabled them to work in diverse fields including banking, entertainment, media, education and tourism, as well as for a host of UK and international companies. In particular, a degree in modern languages lends itself to a career in education, translation, interpretation, trade, PR, communications, immigration or diplomacy.

For example, one of our recent graduates is now a newspaper editor in Spain, while another teaches modern languages in Southampton.

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.

The language module that you will study will depend upon your level when you arrive in the department. We are happy to accept students with no previous knowledge of the language (except for French where an A level is required if you wish to major in this language). Please refer to the progression pathway table to find out which modules are suitable for your linguistic profile.

In your first, second and fourth year you can choose optional modules from other subject areas if you wish.

Our courses allow you to study up to two, three or four modern languages. The below example structure shows a student studying French and Spanish.

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.

Want to learn Spanish from scratch? And spend four weeks abroad during the summer? Build your language abilities, so you can read short stories or novels in Spanish, as well as articulate your ideas verbally or in writing. Undertake a research project, in Spanish, on a topic of your choosing.

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 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.

Are you ready to study abroad? How will it improve your French? Prepare for your period abroad by examining how your language skills will develop, alongside topics related to French gastronomy, music, and suburban life. Study literature, with a focus on creative writing and participate in assessed filmed role-plays.

Want to build your confidence when both speaking and writing in Spanish? Develop your language abilities, expanding your vocabulary and improving your listening and oral skills. Expand your understanding of Spanish and Latin American culture and history through the use of texts, films and conversations with native speakers.

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.

Final year

Want Final Honours level competence in French? Wish to deal quickly and precisely with any written or spoken document? Refine your knowledge of French grammar and vocabulary to near-native level comprehension. Undertake collaborative research into topical issues, and consolidate your understanding of French culture.

Want to improve your Spanish? Study topics related to social and historical events in Spanish-speaking societies to build your vocabulary and knowledge. Learn to interact in everyday situations, as well as in discussions on more specialised topics. Become familiar with more complex grammar, while developing your oral and written skills.

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.

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.

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.

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

  • Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes
  • State-of-the-art technologies and materials create an ideal learning environment
  • Examples of practical work include digitally recording dialect speakers in a small traditional fishing community, or scouring digitised child language databanks
  • Activities designed to develop your practical language skills, such as role-play and class presentations
  • Cultural and social themes are explored through film, music, the internet, theatre and literature

Assessment

  • Languages assessed through role-plays and translations
  • Written examinations are also taken for the majority of modules at the end of each academic year
  • Weighted 50% coursework and 50% exams

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Qualifications

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 admit@essex.ac.uk 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 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.

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. 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 visit@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

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Although great care is taken in compiling our course details, they are intended for the general guidance of prospective students only. The University reserves the right to make 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, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University.

The full procedures, rules and regulations of the University are set out in the Charter, Statues and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.