Postgraduate Course

MA Linguistics

MA Linguistics

Overview

The details
Linguistics
October 2020
Full-time
1 year
Colchester Campus

Study the nuts and bolts of language: sound systems, word structure, sentence structure, and how meaning is conveyed. Learn about the different theories that have been proposed to account for human linguistic ability. In this degree you will learn what human languages share, and where they differ.

Our course will interest you if you want a formal and empirical grounding in all core areas of linguistics, and are keen to evaluate the major theoretical approaches in these disciplines.

You study topics including:

  • Theoretical and descriptive phonology
  • Syntactic theory
  • Pragmatics
  • Semantics
  • Phonetics

Our optional modules are in the related fields of applied linguistics, psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics.

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). We are also ranked 13th in the UK for Linguistics in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2020).

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.

Why we're great.
  • We give you a thorough grounding in the core areas of linguistics and give you the freedom to specialise in the area which interests you most.
  • Join one of the largest and most prestigious language and linguistics departments in the world
  • We're Top 10 in the UK for our research quality - our staff are internationally renowned.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

Our staff maintain excellent student-staff ratios with capped language-specific seminars.

In theoretical linguistics, Kyle Jerro and Hannah Gibson work on the structure of words and sentences, focusing on English and other languages while Faith Chiu, Yuni Kim and Nancy Kula work on sound structure.

In sociolinguistics, Peter Patrick, Rebecca Clift, Enam Al Wer and Ella Jeffries 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, Hassan Khajavy, Karen Roehr-Brackin and Adela Gánem-Gutiérrez focus on the learning of second and further languages, whilst Tracey Costley, Christina Gkonou and Neophytos Mitsigkas focus on issues to do with the classroom teaching of English as a foreign language.

In psycholinguistics, Claire Delle Luche and Laurie Lawyer use experimental techniques such as eyetracking and EEG to understand how children learn language, how adults process language, and what happens when language ability is impaired by brain disorders or other factors (e.g. hearing impairment).

In all of these areas, we combine a theoretical approach with high-level, qualitative and quantitative, empirical and experimental technique; in particular, we have a strong interest in recent developments in inferential statistics.

Specialist facilities

  • An exciting programme of research seminars and other events
  • 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
  • Our Albert Sloman Library houses a strong collection of books, journals, electronic resources and major archives

Your future

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.

Our graduates are successful in a wide variety of career paths. They leave Essex with a unique set of skills and experience that are in demand by employers.

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.

“As a mature student returning to education, I completed both my Bachelors and Masters degrees at Essex before deciding to study for my PhD. Over the few years I have been here, I have developed a strong interest in linguistics and the staff in my department have been tremendously supportive."

Deana Carey, BA English Language and Linguistics 2010, MA English Language and Linguistics 2012, PhD Linguistics

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:2 degree (or international equivalent) in the following disciplines: English Language studies – including education, English language and Literature, Teaching(English),Linguistics or Modern Languages.

We will accept applicants with a degree in an unrelated area but which contains a substantial element of education, Linguistics, Language studies and Teaching .

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language 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.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

Structure

Example structure

Most of our courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. The purpose of the list of modules below is to illustrate the range and variety of topics available on this course. Depending on the course structure, you are able to choose between many of these modules to tailor your study to your individual 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.

The example structure below is representative of this course if taken full-time. If you choose to study part-time, the modules will be split across 2 years.

MA Dissertation

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.

View MA Dissertation on our Module Directory

Syntactic Theory

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.

View Syntactic Theory on our Module Directory

Assignment Writing and Dissertation Preparation

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.

View Assignment Writing and Dissertation Preparation on our Module Directory

Phonological Development (optional)

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.

View Phonological Development (optional) on our Module Directory

Sentence Processing (optional)

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.

View Sentence Processing (optional) on our Module Directory

Semantics (optional)

What do you know about semantics? Wish to understand this key component of modern linguistics? Study formal semantics, working on examples and exercises that use logic in the analysis of natural language semantics. Examine the main topics on word and sentence meaning in contemporary semantics.

View Semantics (optional) on our Module Directory

Theories of Second Language Acquisition (optional)

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.

View Theories of Second Language Acquisition (optional) on our Module Directory

Language Attrition (optional)

This module looks at the phenomenon of first language attrition as a result of bilingualism. You will look at the way in which bilingual development and the acquisition of a new language can trigger often subtle changes in a native language as well as the factors which may accelerate or delay this process. The first half of the module will focus on current research into language learning and attrition, whereas the focus in the second half is on the methods commonly used when researching this topic.

View Language Attrition (optional) on our Module Directory

Individual Differences in L2 Learning (optional)

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.

View Individual Differences in L2 Learning (optional) on our Module Directory

Research Methods (optional)

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.

View Research Methods (optional) on our Module Directory

Approaches to Language in Society (optional)

How does language change over time, vary across communities, and what do social alignments help explain about language variation and change? Explore the relationship between sociolinguistic theories and social groupings. Examine current sociolinguistic debates regarding language variation and change.

View Approaches to Language in Society (optional) on our Module Directory

Experimental Analysis (optional)

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.

View Experimental Analysis (optional) on our Module Directory

Intercultural Communication: communicating across languages and cultures (optional)

This module will acquaint you with some of the existing approaches and issues in intercultural communication, balancing theoretical insight with advanced practical skills. You will investigate communication patterns in different cultures and languages including illocutionary force, indirect speech acts and politeness and look at how cultural norms, values and conventions influence linguistic choices across languages and cultures.

View Intercultural Communication: communicating across languages and cultures (optional) on our Module Directory

History and Variation of English (optional)

What factors determined the varieties of English which evolved in Wales, Scotland and Ireland? How can you tell a New Zealander from an Australian? Investigate the different accents of English spoken outside England. Understand how English changed as it spread across the globe.

View History and Variation of English (optional) on our Module Directory

Language and Human Rights (optional)

This module articulates empirical, comparative sociolinguistic views of language use and conflicts within speech communities, contextualizing them within a human rights perspective. This module surveys important topics in human rights, focusing on the types of conflicts which occur around language, considering the principles upon which they can be understood and investigated, and examining efforts at solutions, as well as locating attempts to identify and make language rights manifest within a broad context of national and international agreements.

View Language and Human Rights (optional) on our Module Directory

Graduate Research Assignment (optional)

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.

View Graduate Research Assignment (optional) on our Module Directory

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

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£8,340

International fee

£17,900

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

We hold 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.

2020 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, September 19, 2020
  • Saturday, October 24, 2020

Applying

You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we’ll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

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.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.


Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification 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, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the 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 students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Related courses

Two women looking at a PC screen
Ask us a question

Want to quiz us about your course? Got a question that just needs answering? Get in touch and we’ll do our best to email you back shortly.