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Course content

Programme description

This programme will develop your understanding of how knowledge of language changes as people acquire or lose language at various points in their lifespan.

It is designed primarily for graduates with a background related to linguistics and/or psychology who wish to develop their knowledge of current research on language acquisition (first, second, bilingual, and impaired) and language change from a cognitive perspective and from the point of view of current linguistic theories.

Joining a vibrant research community of developmental linguists, you will have the opportunity to carry out advanced research to try to answer questions related to the area of language development and bilingualism, such as ‘how do children learn language?’ or ‘what happens when we forget a language?’

You will benefit from the programme's strengths in:

  • scope (with equal emphasis on first and second language acquisition and bilingualism)
  • interdisciplinary teaching (staff drawn from linguistics, psychology and informatics)
  • skill-oriented training (through methodology courses, lab sessions and project work)

Programme structure

This programme comprises two semesters of taught courses, followed by a dissertation.

Compulsory courses

  • Introduction to Phonology and Phonetics
  • Introduction to Syntax
  • First Language Acquisition
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Psychology of Language Learning
  • Univariate Statistics and Methodology Using R

Option courses may include:

  • Sentence Comprehension
  • Discourse Comprehension
  • Language Production
  • Origins and Evolution of Language
  • Simulating Language
  • Child Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
  • Language Behaviours, Brains and Cognition: Data and Theories
  • Language Behaviours, Brains and Cognition: Principles and Approaches
  • Experimental Pragmatics
  • Developmental Language Disorders
  • Research Methods in Developmental Linguistics
  • Language Evolution in the Lab
  • Computational Phonology
  • Advanced Topics in Phonetics: Speech Production and Perception

Career opportunities

This programme will provide you with the specialised skills you need to perform research in language learning and development. It will also serve as a solid basis for doctoral study.


Visit the Developmental Linguistics (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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