MA in English Language and Linguistics

MA in English Language and Linguistics


Our programme comprises several possible pathways with a shared central focus: the study of language in all its socio-cultural, historical and structural complexity. The programme is designed to balance giving students broad confidence across a diverse range of language study with the opportunity to explore more specific fields. The pathways emerge from expertise in the School, and are linked to our research community:

Literary Linguistics explores the interface of literary and linguistic research using cutting-edge research methods. Together, we examine a range of approaches to interdisciplinary literary-linguistic study including cognitive poetics, corpus stylistics, historical stylistics, and narratology.

Social and Historical Approaches investigate complex real-world language problems in different social and historical contexts using a range of theoretical and empirical frameworks. Central among these problems are questions about the instrumentality of language in forming and expressing individual, social, regional and national identities, and how these things can change over time.

Structural and Theoretical Linguistics explores the foundational mental structures and processes underlying human language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics, as well as the interdisciplinary areas of historical linguistics, language acquisition and psycholinguistics. We examine both English and other languages to test explanatory linguistic mechanisms.

Modern Languages and Linguistics challenges students to pursue questions encountered on the Social and Historical Approaches track and the Structural and Theoretical linguistics track using: Catalan, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Luxembourgish, Polish, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish. Students acquire the linguistic background to investigate the languages and cultures of a specific nation (or nations) in a deeper way, and learn how to apply data from the language(s) above to help solve major questions in linguistics.

The MA offers world-leading expertise in all areas of English language and linguistics, and is therefore capable of offering the best possible support for students' interests on any topic.

MA students banner

Course Structure

The course structure of this programme offers a great deal of student-led flexibility supported by the guidance of staff. All students meet for the 30-credit core module 'Research Methods'. You will then select further modules according to your individual interests:

  • EGH624 'Linguistics in Context' focuses on close-reading, critical evaluation of different kinds of evidence, and/or historical and contextual analysis
  • EGH625 'Linguistics in Practice' focuses on the handling and management of linguistic datasets
  • EGH626 'Research Practice' enables students to work on a practical research project
  • EGH608 'Literary Language: Narrative and Cognition' examines the relationship between literary narrative and the human mind
  • EGH610 'Literary Language: History and Culture' focuses upon the investigation of literary language with reference to its historical and cultural contexts
  • EGH623 'Work Placement with Research Project' allows students to work with, and undertake a short research project related to an external organisation (for example, a library, archive, gallery, theatre, or school)
  • You also have the option to choose modules (dependant upon yearly availability) from other postgraduate programmes in the University, such as English Literature, History, or Human Communication Sciences
  • Dissertation - a15,000-word supervised project.

Teaching and learning

Structure of the year

A full-time student will follow the below model of study:

Semester one.
Core module + one optional module

Semester two.
Two optional modules
The dissertation will be completed over the summer.

Resources / facilities

The University library has excellent holdings and study space. It also has a number of important collections that may be of interest to MA students (for projects or dissertations). Please click on this link for a comprehensive list of archival material:

Funding / scholarships

Postgraduate Support Scheme Scholarships

The University of Sheffield is offering 220 scholarships, each worth £10,000, to UK/EU students starting in 2015. The scholarships are part of a government-funded scheme aimed at widening access to postgraduate study for students from underrepresented groups. Find out more at the Postgraduate support scheme scholarship pages.

There are a range of Masters scholarships in English. Details an be found on the Faculty PG webpages.


Entry Requirements

Students wishing to apply for the MA in English Language and Linguistics should have achieved, or be predicted to achieve, at least an upper second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in linguistics, English Language and/or English Literature. Students with good degrees in related subjects may also be considered.

If you are an international student, you need to provide proof of English Language proficiency. We require IELTS 7.0 (minimum 6.5 in writing, and 6.0 in all other components)


Modules are assessed by means of essays, research journals and/or portfolios. All students will submit a 15,000-word thesis (worth 60 credits) by the end of their course.

Recent MA dissertation topics include 'Constellations of Narrative'; 'Voices of Queenship: the Epistolary Correspondence of Margaret and Mary Tudor'; 'The Impact of Film/TV Series on Second Language Phonological Acquisition'; and 'Public-facing communications between Mid Yorkshire NHS and the Yorkshire Press'.

Work placement/ Public Engagement/partnerships

It is possible to take a work placement module. This has typically involved working with the local heritage sector and has included placements at Chatsworth House and writing for the Sheffield Star.


Our staff includes internationally renowned experts in a wide array of research areas:

  • Dr Joe Bray: stylistics, narrative and cognition, experimental literature
  • Dr Mark Faulkner: medieval English language and literature
  • Professor Susan Fitzmaurice: historical sociolinguistics, corpus linguistics, historical pragmatics
  • Dr Joanna Gavins: literary-linguistics, cognitive poetics, text-worlds, absurdist literature, contemporary poetry
  • Dr Kook-Hee Gil: syntax, semantics, generative second language acquisition
  • Dr Jane Hodson: literary linguistics, corpus linguistics, digital language
  • Professor Andrew Linn: history of linguistics, language politics and language planning, English in Europe
  • Dr Chris Montgomery: dialectology, sociolinguistics, varieties of English, perceptual dialectology, folk linguistics, language attitudes
  • Dr Emma Moore: language variation and change, style and identity, gender, ethnicity
  • Dr Jane Mulderrig: critical discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, identity, political discourse
  • Dr Robyn Orfitelli: syntax, post-lexical intonation, generative first language acquisition
  • Dr Ranjan Sen: phonology, phonetics, historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, comparative philology and Indo-European linguistics
  • Dr Richard Steadman-Jones: digital language, language and arts practice, colonial/postcolonial culture
  • Dr Gareth Walker: phonetics, conversation analysis, phonetics of talk-in-interaction
  • Dr Sara Whiteley: stylistics, cognitive poetics, emotion, reader response
  • Dr Graham Williams: history of English(es), historical (im)politeness, ethnopragmatics, early English letter-writing

Find out more about staff research interests from the following weblink:

Staff teaching on the Modern Languages Pathway

  • Professor Neil Bermel: corpus linguistics, morphology, language regulation/planning, language variation; Slavic languages (Russian, Czech)
  • Dr Dagmar Divjak: usage-based theory, corpus linguistics, syntax, semantics; Slavic languages (Russian, Polish)
  • Dr Kris Horner: multilingualism; language policy; Germanic languages (Luxembourgish, German, French)
  • Dr Paul O’Neill: morphology, historical linguistics; Hispanic languages (Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese)
  • Dr Roel Vismans: pragmatics, second language acquisition; Germanic languages (Dutch)


Students have gone on to do PhD research or have used their transferable skills to help seek senior appointments in employment.


The award can help develop the range of transferable skills at your disposal, giving you a wide variety of career options. Some of our modules have been designed specifically to provide opportunities for reflecting on the role of English in the public sphere and to enable you to develop different kinds of skills and experience. These can be especially valuable for those considering a career in English outside academia.

PG life in School of English

We are a vibrant school with a number of staff-student seminars to attend. We regularly host guest speakers of international standing. There are also a number of reading groups that you can join.

International/ EU students

We welcome international students and in recent years our courses have attracted students from India, Malaysia, and China as well as from mainland Europe.

Part-time options

The award is available for part-time study. Students will complete the core module + plus an optional module in the first year. In the second year they will complete two optional modules and write a dissertation over the summer.

Postgraduate Taught Fees

Can I talk to someone?

If you would like to know more about the MA in English Language and Linguistics, please contact the programme director, Prof Susan Fitzmaurice.

Phone: +44 (0)114 2220213
Fax: +44 (0)114 2228481

How to apply?

For enquiries relating to applications, please contact Mrs Jackie Elkington, MA Secretary
T: (0114) 2220211

You can also make an online application for this programme.
Online Application