Postgraduate Course

MA Psycholinguistics

MA Psycholinguistics

Overview

The details
Psycholinguistics
October 2024
Full-time
1 year
Colchester Campus

Discover how insights from linguistics help to explain how humans learn, understand and use languages. Our MA Psycholinguistics provides you with a thorough grounding in research from the perspective of linguistics on human language processing, the representation of language in the brain, and first and second language acquisition.

You cover the processing and acquisition of sounds, words and sentences, look at different kinds of language disorders, and investigate the relevance of data from human language processing to our understanding of the nature of language. You also learn how to design and conduct experiments, and analyse the results from them.

Our researchers are using experimental techniques to understand how children learn language, how adults process language, and what happens when language ability is impaired by brain disorders. We combine a wide range of methodologies: corpora, infant behavioural studies at the babylab, response time and eye movement measures for adults

You can choose areas of special study including:

  • How words are represented and accessed in the mind
  • How speakers understand sentences in real time
  • Music, language and the brain
  • Children's English

We are 1st in UK for research impact in modern languages and linguistics (Grade Point Average, Research Excellence Framework 2021). We are also ranked 11th in the UK for Linguistics in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2023).

If you want a global outlook, are interested in human communication, and want to study for a degree with real-world practical value in an established department, welcome to Essex.

Why we're great.
  • Our researchers are using experimental techniques to understand how children learn language, how adults process language, and what happens when language ability is impaired by brain disorders.
  • Our Psycholinguistics Lab measures how long it takes individuals to react to words, texts and sounds
  • We are 1st in UK for research impact in modern languages and linguistics (Grade Point Average, Research Excellence Framework 2021).

Our expert staff

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

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).

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 MA Psycholinguistics can lead to further research in the form of a PhD, or can lead you to a career in areas such as speech therapy, teaching, publishing, journalism, 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.

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.

Several of our MA Psycholinguistics graduates have taken up academic posts at top universities including the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and the Universities of Tübingen, Hamburg, Kobe, and Thessaloniki.

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.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:2 degree, or international equivalent, in Applied Linguistics, English Language, Linguistics, Education, English Language Teaching, English Language and Literature, Psychology, Speech and Language Therapy.

You may also be considered with a lower-class degree if you have experience or a postgraduate qualification in Speech and Language Therapy. You may also be considered if you have a 2:2 degree in an unrelated area but which contains a substantial element of English language, language education, linguistics, language studies or language 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


If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 6.0 in writing and 5.5 in all other components.

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

Course structure

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained

Components

Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
Core
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Optional
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

Modules

Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: CORE

MA Dissertation
(60 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Experimental Analysis
(15 CREDITS)

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 on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Topics in Psycholinguistics
(15 CREDITS)

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 Topics in Psycholinguistics on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

Developmental Psycholinguistics
(15 CREDITS)

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 Developmental Psycholinguistics on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

Language Learning Across the Lifespan
(15 CREDITS)

We will look at theories of language learning that broadly take a usage-based perspective and compare and contrast these with more traditional formalist approaches in order to highlight changes and new points of emphasis in current theorising in the field. We will consider the role of explicit (conscious) and implicit (non-conscious) knowledge and processes in additional language learning and how these interact with characteristics of the individual learner, the learning context, and the linguistic input that constitutes the learning target. Importantly, we will look at the influence of these factors across the lifespan to pinpoint if and how language development differs in children, younger adults and older adults. We will capture current research trends that move beyond the traditional sample population of educated young adults and include hitherto under-researched groups such as third-age learners and low-educated learners.

View Language Learning Across the Lifespan on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 06: OPTIONAL

Linguistics option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 07: OPTIONAL

Linguistics option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

Teaching

Postgraduate students of English Language and Linguistics would typically attend a two-hour teaching event for each module every week. Seminars would usually have about 20 students.

Postgraduate students of translation modules typically involve two hours of classes per week. Interpreting modules typically involve four hours of classes per week. Classes usually contain up to 20 students within each group.

  • 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/UK fee

£10,000

International fee

£21,700

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.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Wednesday, March 20, 2024

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.

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Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.


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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.

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 University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

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.

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