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Course content

The Linguistics MA is a flexible programme which aims to explore the breadth and the depth of linguistics. It builds on the widest range of teaching and research expertise, covering all aspects of theoretical and descriptive linguistics: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse and conversation analysis, typology, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, cognitive linguistics and psycholinguistics, computational and corpus linguistics, field linguistics, and the documentation and description of endangered languages. The academic staff teaching on the programme work on various practical applications of linguistics (e.g. language codification and language policy, institutional language, language in the community) and have expertise in a wide range of languages, including English and its varieties, Germanic, Latin and Romance, Russian, Polish, Kurdish and other Iranian languages, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, and several languages spoken in the Americas (e.g. Huave, Quechua, Ulwa), Australia (e.g. Jamingjung), and beyond.

All students receive a solid foundation for linguistic study in three core modules (of which at least two are compulsory): 

  • Grammatical Theory
  • Semantics and Pragmatics
  • Phonetics and Phonology

The remainder of the programme allows the students to make the most of what the staff have to offer. Students can either take a variety of course units in different areas including the new Forensic Linguistics unit, or specialise in one of the following pathways: Phonetics and Phonology, Sociolinguistics, Syntax and Semantics, Typology or Romani Linguistics.


The course aims to give students a grounding in breadth and depth in Linguistics, by exploring the central features of linguistic theory: its history, objectives, principal theoretical frameworks, methodologies, contested areas and uncontested results. Students will gain experience of excellence in teaching and learning at an advanced level, in an environment where they will benefit from the fact that the School is also home to world-leading research in Linguistics.

Teaching and learning

Teaching takes on a variety of forms. Core course units and other MA specific course units are typically taught as seminars, in a small group, combining lectures with discussion. Many of them have practical tutorials as well which will help students prepare for individual research projects. Directed Readings involve individual or small group meetings during which pre-set readings on a particular topic are discussed. The enhanced Level 3 undergraduate course units combine lectures or seminars, depending on the aim of the course unit, with more optional tutorials. The aim across all teaching forms is to create the opportunity for intensive scholarly work, with areas of focus determined by the participants and their individual interests, which can be investigated in considerable depth.

If you wish to discover more about the academic staff in the department, please visit:http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/about/people/staff-directory/linguistics-english-language-staff/

Coursework and assessment

Course units are assessed at the end of the semester during which they are offered. All taught course units except Introduction to Grammatical Theory and Phonetics and Phonology are assessed by examined coursework only. All course units include formative assessments to ensure interim feedback during the semester.

Deadlines for assessments are stated in the MA in Linguistics and English Language 2016-2017 Programme Handbook .

Course unit details

The Linguistics MA consists of the following elements:

  • At least two of the following compulsory core course units in Introduction to Grammatical Theory (15 credits), Phonetics and Phonology (15 credits), Semantics and Pragmatics (15 credits)
  • Research Methods I and II (2 x 15 credits)
  • Optional course units (60 credits altogether)
  • Dissertation (60 credits).

Alternatives to the compulsory course units in Introduction to Grammatical Theory and/or Phonetics and Phonology may be chosen if students can provide evidence of having covered comparable material in their undergraduate degree; in borderline cases, students may be asked to take a proficiency test in Welcome Week.

The optional course units can be selected to follow specialised pathways, which include Sociolinguistics, Phonetics and Phonology, Syntax and Semantics, Typology, and Romani Linguistics. One or two course units may take the form of Directed Reading units, which are individual or small group seminars about set readings on a particular topic. These are available after consultation with an appropriated member of staff and the PGT Officer. One or two course units may also be taken from a list of MA course units available in other subject areas within the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, or from a list of enhanced Level-3 undergraduate course units in Linguistics and English Language, which supplement the MA specific course units on offer.

For details of postgraduate course units currently on offer, please refer to the Programme Handbook.


All postgraduate students on this programme can make use of the purpose-designed Centre for Graduate Studies within the Ellen Wilkinson Building. The Centre opened in 2014 and provides state-of-the-art facilities for postgraduate study. These include 30 computers, LaserJet printers, `hot-desk' facilities for around 50 students (including workstation facilities for students with disabilities), and 132 secure lockers. The Centre is a meeting place for postgraduate taught and postgraduate research students, and also has several areas to relax, socialise and network.

In addition to the Centre for Graduate Studies, the University has five major computer clusters, together with many smaller clusters. In total there are more than 10,000 PCs and workstations across the campus. All provide access to standard office software as well as specialist programs, and all are connected to the campus network and internet. Every student is registered for email, file storage and internet access. If more demanding computer access is required, our specialist computing division Manchester Computing can provide high-end and specialist computing services.

The University Library is one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the UK and is widely recognised as one of the world's greatest research libraries. We also have one of the largest academic IT services in Europe - supporting world-class teaching and research.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: 

Visit the Linguistics (MA) page on the University of Manchester website for more details!




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