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Applied Linguistics (MPhil)

Course Description

Applied linguistics aims to investigate real-world phenomena in which language plays a central role. At MPhil/PhD level, we aim for you to make the transition into a fully fledged, independent academic researcher, with the skills necessary to present your research orally as well as in writing, in addition to pushing back the frontiers of knowledge. Such independence is achieved on the basis of a full appreciation of the hallmarks of good scholarship, such as original thought, the proper use of references and background material, appropriate use of methodology and accountable reporting procedures, and it is these priorities that we aim to impart to our students.

Once equipped with the generic and discipline-specific tools for carrying out research, you will pursue your particular research interests, supported by regular meetings with your supervisor and presentations and attendance at MPhil/PhD seminars.

Current research centres around: bilingualism and multilingualism; child language development; second language acquisition; psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics; sociolinguistics; cross-cultural pragmatics; discourse and conversation analysis; intercultural communication; language teaching; and translation theory.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

- Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.

- The Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication was established in 1965, making it the first department in England to focus on the study of applied linguistics. It has contributed greatly to the field over the years and remains the only department of applied linguistics in the University of London.
- The department is an Institutional Member of the British Association of Applied Linguistics and an affiliated member of the International Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA).
- It houses the Centre for Multilingual and Multicultural Research, and the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism (Taylor and Francis).
- The department has developed a distinctive academic identity and helped to redefine the field as a social science. It is not a department of conventional descriptive or theoretical linguistics, and does not engage in research and teaching of syntax, morphology, phonology, phonetics or linguistics of a particular language. Rather, it is concerned with real-life issues in which language and communication play a central role.

Visit the Applied Linguistics (MPhil) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Sophia Munnik

4084.jpg Sophia Munnik moved to the UK from South Africa for her postgraduate studies at Birkbeck, University of London. Birkbeck was always her first choice of university because of its excellent reputation and internationally-recognised qualifications.

Aged 24, Sophia decided to study a part-time MA in Applied Linguistics at Birkbeck because of the interesting combination of subjects covered in the course. Her two-year Master’s degree gave her the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills first gained when she studied her BA in Linguistics and English at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Sophia said: 'Studying at Birkbeck was a really positive experience for me. I have gained so much in terms of my education, and my mind has really developed. Postgraduate education is incredibly important, and Birkbeck has absolutely changed my life. Through my studies, I was able to pursue my interests in sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and how you use language to express your identity. My dissertation focused on media coverage surrounding the legalisation of gay marriage in South Africa.'

Sophia combined her studies with working full-time, and said this was only possible because of the support from her lecturers and the quality of Birkbeck’s online resources. She added: 'Birkbeck was the ideal university for me as I could work during the day and study in the evening. It was great that the lectures were after office hours, and the lecturers were unbelievably understanding. The online resources, including access to PowerPoint presentations, are invaluable.'

During her MA in Applied Linguistics, Sophia first worked in retail and then her current job in recruitment. She plans to return to university education soon. Sophia said: 'My ambition is to become an academic, and Birkbeck has already helped me get closer to my goal. I will study for a PhD at some point.'


Postgraduate Support Scheme for final-year undergraduates (full-time) - 20+ Awards

We are pleased to announce that, for October 2015 entry, Birkbeck has a limited number of new £10,000 postgraduate scholarships. These scholarships are for students progressing from a full-time undergraduate degree to a part-time Master’s degree starting in 2015/16.

Value of Scholarship(s)



To be eligible for the scholarship you must be:Starting a 2-year part-time taught Master’s degree in 2015/16
Domiciled in the UK/EU
Progressing from an undergraduate course for which you were charged the higher tuition fee (applicable since 2012–13)
Studying at postgraduate Master’s level for the first time

Application Procedure

If you want to apply for this support, you must follow these steps:Submit an application for your intended course
Submit an application for the Postgraduate Support Scheme

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A good Master's degree in a relevant subject.Some relevant work experience is desirable, but not essential.A good research proposal will also be required. If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course Fees

Part-time home/EU students: £ 2187 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 4121 pa

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Recipient: Birkbeck, University of London

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