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    Language and Linguistics

    School of English, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

    Explore the sociocultural, historical and structural complexities of human language, joining a global research community that links to all aspects of human life.
    Students chat in seminar

    Course description

    Language and linguistics is a discipline with links to all other areas of study, since humans use language in all facets of life.

    Our MA specialises in social, historical, and theoretical approaches to language and linguistics. You'll investigate complex real-world language problems in different cultural contexts and time periods, alongside exploring the foundational mental structures and processes underlying language. You can also study literary linguistics and examine a range of approaches including cognitive poetics, corpus stylistics and narratology.

    You can choose to take modules from other related fields, such as TESOL and applied linguistics within the School of English, or courses from other departments across the University which link to your particular area of linguistics.

    The MA in Language and Linguistics is one of three linguistics MAs offered in the School of English. It's designed for students from language and linguistics backgrounds interested in developing expertise and skills as a researcher in these fields.

    • If you aspire to a career in TESOL or are looking for British Council-accredited teacher training in authentic TESOL classrooms, alongside rigorous, theory-driven training in how to teach language skills and systems then you may be interested in our MA TESOL course.
    • If you're interested in learning more about the professional and research applications of linguistic theory and are seeking to build on your experience as a language professional then you may be interested in our MA Applied Linguistics course.


    A selection of modules is available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Core modules

    Language and Linguistics seminar

    Linguistics is a broad discipline that encompasses a wide range of approaches to the study of how language works, how it is used, and what it means. This module aims to introduce you to the breadth of linguistic study as conducted by the scholars who will teach you on your degree programme. The module further aims to help you become independent and critical learners able to discuss areas of linguistic research with confidence in both written and spoken modes.

    15 credits
    Research Methods

    This module will provide you with the essential practical foundations for independent postgraduate research in areas of language and linguistic and applied linguistic study. You will be given the opportunity to explore a range of research practices, and you will examine examples of good practice in linguistic research in a range of contexts. You will be encouraged to reflect critically on ]your own research practices and on the practices of others. You will benefit from studying this module as you will have a better understanding of the various research questions, research methods, and research designs which we can use in linguistics and applied linguistics. This will help you become a more critical reader of others' research, as well as helping you design your own research.

    15 credits
    Research Dissertation Practice

    This module will provide you with support to embark on your dissertation. Its aims are to support you with each aspect of the dissertation process, provide you with opportunities to discuss your research in progress with your peers and academic staff, enable you to understand what comprises excellent research in linguistics, scaffold the process of conducting a research dissertation, and to ensure that you are aware of the need to conduct ethical research projects. You will have the opportunity to discuss the structure of each of the main chapters in your dissertation, and to see examples of each chapter from previous well-written dissertations.

    15 credits

    This module enables students to pursue an extended independent research project in an area of language and linguistic research, broadly defined. With the guidance of an academic supervisor, and the module convenor if appropriate, students will formulate an appropriate research question based on the 1000-word research proposal submitted as part of their assessment for the  Research Dissertation Practice module. Students will then work with their supervisor who will help them establish a workable research schedule and provide advice and feedback in up to four one-to-one meetings. The project will be written up as a 12,000-15,000-word dissertation during the summer months.

    60 credits

    Optional modules

    Introduction to Linguistic Theory

    This module aims to develop a secure foundation in linguistic concepts and techniques, and trains you in how to apply them to language problems. The course examines how language is structured and processed, building upon preliminary training in some or all of the core modules of language at undergraduate level: sounds (phonetics, phonology), word structure (morphology), sentence structure (syntax), and meaning (semantics, pragmatics). The module will train you to describe and rigorously analyse language data (English and others) within theoretical frameworks. Students will be instructed in (1) foundational theories and concepts in linguistic theory, (2) the diverse, cross-linguistic evidence that motivates these approaches, treating all languages with equality, (3) the analytical techniques required to apply these theories to language data, and (4) the relevance of linguistic theories for wider applied, theoretical, and practical language study.

    15 credits
    Topics in Linguistic Theory

    This module explores how language is structured, by exploring central topics in linguistic theory, which may include Phonology, Syntax, Semantics, Language Acquisition (L1/L2), Psycholinguistics, and related disciplines. You will build upon the concepts and techniques investigated in previous training in these areas, and will have the opportunity to examine (1) theories and concepts in linguistic theory, (2) the linguistic evidence from a diverse array of languages that informs these approaches, (3) the analytical techniques required to apply these theories to cross-linguistic language data, and (4) the relevance of such theoretical models for wider applied, theoretical, and practical language study. The module will develop students' abilities to use analytical tools in linguistic theory, rigorously interpret language data within theoretical frameworks, and evaluate these frameworks.

    15 credits
    Language and interaction

    The natural home of spoken language is everyday interaction. In this module, you will engage with contemporary frameworks and techniques for analysing spoken interaction, including everyday conversation and interaction in formal settings. You will: (i) learn about the principles which underpin those analytic frameworks, (ii) explore some of the findings which have arisen from the application of those analytic frameworks, and (iii) gain first-hand experience of working within those analytic frameworks in the analysis of recordings and transcriptions of everyday interactions.

    15 credits
    Language and public life

    Language mediates all aspects of our lives. It helps shape our social identity, relations with others, and the institutions we engage with. It can be an instrument of power and of community. This module will introduce you to current research which explores how language mediates public life and is an object of discussion within it. You will be introduced to a range of analytical frameworks for exploring the role of language as an instrument of social power, identity, and control. The module will explore these questions by critically analysing how language is used in a range of social settings within public life and will also draw on current techniques for investigating how language is debated, discussed, and monitored in public life. It will do so by looking at a range of social settings in which language is used and discussed (for instance, education, the media, politics and policy). You will: (i) learn about the principles which underpin the analytical frameworks used, (ii) discuss the findings and implications of research which has used those frameworks, (iii) gain hands-on experience of working with some of those frameworks, by working with samples of data gathered from contemporary social contexts. Data will be provided for you to analyse, though there may be the opportunity for you to work with your own data where appropriate.

    15 credits
    Historical Linguistics: Texts and Theories

    The primary aim of this module is to bring primary data in historical linguistics (texts) into direct contact with theories of their interpretation in the context of seminar-style discussion in class. You will encounter historical texts (in transcript and facsimile) and gain skills in interpreting them in ways that speak to questions both specific and more general to the field of historical linguistics. Topics may include aspects of manuscript production and reception (for example, punctuation), language contact, morpho-syntax, sound change, pragmatics, and sociolinguistics.

    15 credits
    Style in Literature and Discourse - Tools and Techniques

    This module explores various approaches to the investigation of style, making reference both to literary texts and to other kinds of discourse. It introduces a range of tools that we can use to analyse style in a detailed and systematic way. These include techniques for the investigation of grammar, linguistic patterning, point of view, speech and thought representation, modality, and metaphor. In this sense, the module provides a foundational account of stylistic analysis suitable for those who have not experienced it before. However, the module extends its exploration of stylistics further than is usual in undergraduate modules, engaging with the theory that lies behind the practical tools that we are covering as well as extending, problematizing, and complicating our view of what the term 'style' actually means. In this sense, the module will also be suitable for you if you have some experience of studying stylistics at undergraduate level and now wish to develop your knowledge of the field. By the end of the module, you should be able to produce sophisticated stylistic analyses of particular pieces of text and discourse while also showing a critical awareness of the intellectual context of your work and the theoretical ideas underpinning it.

    30 credits
    Style in Literature and Discourse - Approaches to Research

    This module considers what is involved in developing a research project in the field of stylistics. Rather than concentrating on the specific analytical tools that are typically used to explore the style of texts and discourse, it focuses on the larger questions that researchers ask about matters of style and the methods that they use to answer those questions. The module will include discussion of research in areas such as Corpus Stylistics, Cognitive Stylistics, Historical Stylistics, Multimodal Stylistics, Eco-Stylistics and the Stylistics of Drama. In each case we shall look at examples of research in the area, consider what kinds of research questions shape it, examine the methods devised to answer those questions, and explore the ways in which new research establishes its relationship with what is happening more broadly in the field. The module will offer a thorough account of both the practice and theory of stylistic research, the assessment requiring that students develop plans for research projects in two different areas of the field and carry out a small-scale pilot study for each.

    30 credits
    Advances in TESOL

    This module will familiarise you with cutting-edge research in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). In particular, aligning with the research interests and publications of the module convenors, it will focus on current research on vocabulary studies, English for specific purposes, and academic writing and academic literacy.

    15 credits
    Current Issues in Applied Linguistics

    Current Issues in Applied Linguistics' offers students an opportunity to reflect upon, and debate, contemporary questions related to language research and language education.

    The module is designed to stimulate critical thought, ask questions, advance opinions, and generally scratch our heads over some of the knottier problems in language and social life. The aim will be to explore critical current issues and social problems through the lens of language. The module seeks to introduce students to the diversity of research in Applied Linguistics, while representing the expertise of the scholars who will teach them on their degree programme. Topics will vary from year to year, covering diverse fields like language awareness, language acquisition, critical linguistics, language norms, 'correctness' and normativity, interculturality, linguistic imperialism and the global business of TESOL.

    15 credits
    Materials and Course Design

    This module will familiarise you with the theory and practice of TESOL course design and language teaching. You will look at different scholarly approaches to the design of language teaching curricula, materials, and tests, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches, and their usefulness in various TESOL situations in diverse secondary and tertiary education contexts. The module will provide you with the opportunity to practise designing language courses and language teaching materials. The module therefore will provide you with an essential theoretical and practical foundation to design TESOL language courses and teaching materials, and to critically assess existing examples of each and their appropriateness in various learning contexts.

    15 credits
    Literature and Language in the Workplace

    This, the core module for the MA in English Studies, will combine an introduction to electronic, microfilm, and paper tools with an in-depth exposure to the way in which close reading can be aided by consideration of reception history, literary theory, historical backgrounds, and stage history. You will learn by way of and demonstrate skills in online discussions. Those who complete this module will have developed skills that are transferable to various employment situations, especially publishing. The module will be very useful for and interesting to secondary and post-16 English teachers, particularly those whose degrees are not recent.

    15 credits
    Work Placement with Research Project

    This module provides you with the experience of working with an external organisation (for example, a library, gallery, theatre, school) and undertaking a short research project related to that organisation. You will choose a placement from those offered at the start of the academic year and will work on a defined project agreed between the academic co-ordinator and the partner institution. Alongside this project, you will undertake a programme of related reading and research directed by the academic co-ordinator. The module has three aims: (1) to enable you to develop your discipline-specific vocational skills (2) to enable you to gain practical research skills through undertaking research related to your project (3) to promote reflection on the relationship between academic research and external organisations.

    30 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


    • 1 year full-time
    • 2 years part-time


    We have expertise in all areas of English language and linguistics so that we can offer the best possible support for students’ interests. You'll benefit from our expertise in many fields, from language variation and change, psycholinguistics and phonology to conversation analysis, dialectology and the language–literature interface.

    Our enthusiastic staff publish internationally. Within the School of English, we hold research seminars which give you the chance to hear about the latest developments.

    You’ll be taught through seminars and workshops. There are also work placement opportunities in schools, museums, libraries or local businesses.


    Assessment varies by module, but includes essays, data analysis, and research proposals.

    Your career

    During your studies, you can develop and hone a range of wider skills that are embedded throughout your learning. From time management and digital fluency to problem-solving and critical thinking, we'll help you to build your confidence as you enter the workplace.

    English graduates utilise these skills and go on to work in a wide range of sectors both nationally and internationally, including health, education, local government, marketing and journalism. Some of our recent graduates are working with local collections, in national banking groups and as teachers overseas.

    In particular, you’ll have the opportunity to develop practical skills and apply your studies via the Work Placement scheme.

    This optional 100-hour activity is a fantastic way to distinguish yourself in the job market and many of our students have continued to work with their partner organisation after the module has been completed.

    Students taking the Work Placement module have worked with organisations across a variety of sectors including: heritage and tourism, archives, charities, galleries and arts performance, publishing, events organisation, health and wellbeing, and more.

    Our partner organisations include Bank Street Arts, Bloc Projects, Chatsworth House, Film Hub North, Grimm & Co., Recovery Enterprises, Renishaw Hall, Sheffield Archives, and Sheffield Newspapers - and this list continues to grow.

    Your career - the School of English

    Entry requirements

     A minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree in linguistics, English language and/or literature, or a modern language.

    Your previous degree should have included study in at least one of these four main research areas:

    • Language and society
    • Historical linguistics
    • Literary linguistics
    • Theoretical linguistics

    Please contact us if you would like any further details on these subject areas.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    Overall IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, or equivalent.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Fees and funding

    Home (2022 annual fee): £9,800

    Overseas (2022 annual fee): £20,950

    The fee listed is for the advertised mode of study. If you're studying for an alternative qualification or via a different mode of study (eg full-time, part-time) then the fee could be different. Due to inflation, the fee for Home students could also increase after your first year of study. Contact the Student Fees team to check.

    Fee status help

    There are a number of studentships and fee bursaries available, funded by either the University or the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Deadlines for funding applications are usually in winter/early spring.


    You can apply now using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now


    +44 114 222 0220

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.