The MPhil is offered by the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (DTAL) within the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages as a full-time period of research and introduces students to research skills and specialist knowledge.
The course aims:
(a) to provide students with necessary background in linguistic theory and related topics at intermediate and advanced level using a range of approaches and methodologies;
(b) to give students the opportunity to acquire expertise in their specific research interests in part by offering the opportunity of specialisation through pathways in the linguistics of particular languages (e.g. English, Romance, Celtic etc.);
(c) to provide foundations for continuation to PhD research;
(d) to offer the opportunity to participate in research culture within and beyond the Faculty, by attending and contributing to graduate seminars and reading groups;
(e) to develop the research skills required to conduct independent study such as - formulating a realistic research proposal, with suitably delineated aims, objectives, methods, scope and expected outcome; - preparing written work based on the proposal; - selecting and mastering suitable research methods; - collecting relevant bibliography; - using computer databases and corpora; - using relevant software, including statistical packages where appropriate; - presenting well-argued academic material to the wider research community.
Students completing the MPhil in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics: (a) will be aware of the nature of linguistic theories, and how theories relate to models, description, analysis, and explanation
(b) will have gained, in at least four areas of linguistics, a solid foundation, including: - familiarity with one or more models in each area - an appreciation of the fact that there can be alternative analyses of given data, and of how to evaluate the alternatives - where relevant, an awareness of the relation between linguistic models and the mind - where relevant, an understanding of the relation between linguistic models and their application
(c) will have become familiar with a variety of research skills relevant to research in linguistics
(d) will have developed the strategies needed to present linguistic data, arguments, interpretations, and conclusions both in writing and in oral presentation
(e) will have built up in-depth knowledge of at least one area of linguistics to the point where original research questions can be defined and pursued independently
(f) will have had experience in research sufficient to facilitate the transition to doctoral research
(g) will have acquired both the breadth and the depth of knowledge in linguistics that will prepare them for jobs in linguistics in the future.
The MPhil programme is structured progressively to form a bridge between undergraduate study and possible further research. Its balance changes through the year so that in the first two months (Michaelmas Term - October to December) there is instruction through lectures, whilst by the last three months students are carrying out independent research full-time.
All students are required to follow a course in 'Research Methods' and a statistics course to acquire skills needed for research and 'transferable' skills. Beyond that, each student will follow his or her own 'Study Plan', which allows the individual interests, needs, and strengths of the student to be met. At the start of the course the student, with advice if needed from the Director of the MPhil and subject specialists, draws up a Study Plan for the Michaelmas and Lent Terms (October to March) which is approved by the Department. This will include the selection of a minimum of four introductory taught courses to be followed in Michaelmas, and participation in a minimum of two research seminars in Lent Term. Usually the Lent Term seminars chosen build on courses which have been followed in Michaelmas.
The course structure allows great flexibility in combining areas and approaches. It provides for tailored combinations of work in any of the areas of theoretical, applied, and descriptive linguistics, ranging for instance from formal semantics to experimental phonetics and phonology, from language acquisition to computational linguistics, and from Welsh syntax to the history of linguistics in France. A piece of work may have as its focus the development of an argument in linguistic theory, the description of some aspect of a language or its use, the psycholinguistic testing of alternative linguistic analyses, the application of linguistic theory to the history of a language or languages, the acoustic description of sound systems, and so on. The various pieces of work may relate to any language or combination of languages subject to adequate advice and facilities being available for the topic in question. Some students may wish to specialise and opt for a 'Pathway' relating to a particular language or language family.
The thesis demands independent study under the guidance of the supervisor and will involve a substantial piece of original research. A proposed title and summary for the 20,000 word thesis, formulated in discussion with the supervisor, must be submitted in mid-February, and this will be subject to approval by the Department of Linguistics, the supervisor, and the Faculty's Degree Committee. Because seminars finish at the end of Lent term, students can then devote themselves full time to research for the thesis during the Easter vacation and the Easter Term (April to June). The thesis is submitted on the seventh Friday of Easter Full Term, and about two to three weeks later there may be an oral examination on the thesis at the discretion of the examiners.
For those applying to continue from the MPhil to PhD, the minimum academic standard is normally a distinction on the MPhil.