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Applied Linguistics and Communication (MA)

Course Description

The postgraduate programme in applied linguistics and communication began at Birkbeck in 1965, making it one of the oldest and most established linguistics courses in the world. It is unique, as it provides students with opportunities to explore many topics in applied linguistics and communication in a comprehensive and interdisciplinary manner. Furthermore, lecturers specialise in various areas of multilingualism and multiculturalism, offering a range of modules to suit individual interests.

You first complete 2 compulsory modules - Introduction to Applied Linguistics and Research Methods and Design - but then you are able to choose from a range of option modules, including, for example: Second Language Acquisition; Bilingualism; International Management Communication; Sociolinguistics; Language, Culture and Communication; Language Teaching and Learning in a Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts; and Linguistic Description and Corpus Application.

The core module Research Methods and Design aims to equip you with professional and technical knowledge in qualitative and quantitative research methods. It will also prepare you for undertaking your own empirical and/or theoretical research into language and language behaviour in the form of an extended literature review or dissertation.

The programme aims to introduce you to multiple sub-domains and topics that reflect the research interests of staff, e.g. code-switching, first and second language acquisition, intercultural communication, language pedagogy and assessment, language impairment, language policy, language and identity, corpus linguistics, and speech production and perception.

All academic staff are active in state-of-the-art teaching and research. Applied linguistics and communication at Birkbeck enjoys a strong international reputation for its quality teaching and research.

The programme is suitable for people with diverse career goals: those who wish to further their career prospects and professional development, or those who have an interest in doctoral research and aspire to work in higher education. In particular, the programme is beneficial for those who do not have specific research interests at the beginning of their degree, but who intend to identify and focus on an area of research after exploring various disciplines in applied linguistics and communication and immersing themselves in the research and learning culture of a renowned department.

Our students work in a rich research environment that is supported by excellent resources, including a multimedia library and computing facilities. We have a large MPhil/PhD community and this programme offers the opportunity to progress to our integrated PhD programmes in Applied Linguistics, Intercultural Communication, Language Teaching or TESOL.

Our postgraduate students join a vibrant and diverse community supported by the Birkbeck College Applied Linguistics Society, which is student run. There is an annual Postgraduate Student Research Conference which is organised by the Society every summer. In addition, the Research Centre for Multilingual and Multicultural Research hosts a lecture series given by international visiting scholars. Birkbeck also actively collaborates with the larger community of applied linguists throughout University of London colleges. The Institute of Education, School of Oriental and African Studies and University College London are all within walking distance in Bloomsbury, as well as King's College London. The British Library and the British Museum are also a short walking distance away.

Visit the Applied Linguistics and Communication (MA) 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

Usually an upper second-class honours degree or above, or overseas equivalent, in a relevant subject and/or professional training and expertise.You will be asked to undertake a short admissions task of no more than 500 words, to support your application.You must also provide 1 academic reference. 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: £ 3975 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa

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Recipient: Birkbeck, University of London
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