Linguistics MA

The Linguistics MA aims to give students a thorough grounding in modern theoretical linguistics. Students gain a basic understanding of the three core areas of linguistics: phonetics and phonology; syntax; and semantics and pragmatics, and are then able to tailor the programme to meet their personal linguistic interests.

Applicants with a significant academic background in theoretical linguistics, e.g. with an undergraduate degree in linguistics, may also be interested in the specialised MA Linguistics programmes in phonology, pragmatics, semantics and syntax.

See below for short videos on studying Linguistics and Language Sciences at UCL and a guided tour of Chandler House, home of UCL Linguistics:


Further information on the MA Linguistics degree programme can be found here:


What will I learn?

Students gain knowledge and understanding of current research in theoretical linguistics and are prepared for independent research. On completion of the programme, they will be able to formulate appropriate research questions, find and evaluate relevant literature, develop and test new hypotheses, and produce cogent, structured and professionally presented reports.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The Division of Psychology & Language Sciences undertakes world-leading research and teaching in mind, behaviour, and language.

Our work attracts staff and students from around the world. Together they create an outstanding and vibrant environment, taking advantage of cutting-edge resources such as a behavioural neuroscience laboratory, a centre for brain imaging, and extensive laboratories for research in speech and language, perception, and cognition.

Opportunities for graduate students to work with world-renowned researchers exist in all areas of investigation, from basic processes to applied research. The division offers a supportive environment including numerous specialist seminars, workshops, and guest lectures.

Student / staff ratios › 304 staff › 741 taught students › 439 research students

You can see a recording of the talk given by Professor Noam Chomsky when he visited us in October 2011 at


Degree Structure

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of four core modules (105 credits) one optional module (15 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

Core Modules
  • Syntax
  • Semantics and Pragmatics
  • Phonetics and Phonology
  • Foundations of Linguistics
  • Students choose one option module from a selection that includes the following:
  • Advanced Phonological Theory
  • Advanced Semantic Theory
  • Current Issues in Syntax
  • Intermediate Generative Grammar
  • Issues in Pragmatics
  • Language Acquisition
  • Linguistics of Sign Language
  • Morphology
  • Neurolinguistics
  • Phonology of English
  • Readings in Syntax
  • Semantic-Pragmatic Development
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Stuttering

All MA students undertake an independent research project in any area of linguistics which culminates in a dissertation of 10,000 words.

Teaching and Learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, small-group teaching (tutorials or backup classes) and a virtual learning environment. Some courses also involve workshops or practical classes. Assessment is through take home and unseen examination, essays, presentations, assignments and the dissertation.

Further information on modules and degree structure available on the department web site Linguistics MA

Obligatory Modules
The programme has the following obligatory components:

Credit value
(1 ECTS point = 2.5 UCL credits)

PLING103 Semantics and Pragmatics 30
PLING113 Phonetics and Phonology 30
PLING198 Foundations of Linguistics 15
PLING199 Dissertation in Linguistics 60

Option Modules
In addition, students register for a 15-credit option module in consultation with the programme director chosen from the list at

Students will be able to tailor the programme to meet their personal linguistic interests either by focusing on one particular area, or by diversifying into other branches. For example, a student could choose to study an option (such as language acquisition or the philosophy of language) only indirectly related to the core areas, and to write his or her dissertation on yet another area (for instance, sociolinguistics). Alternatively, a student could choose to study an option taken from one of the core areas (such as advanced syntactic theory or issues in pragmatics), and to write his or her dissertation in a related area. As a consequence, students may spend as much as three fifths or as little as one fifth of their time working in one particular part of the discipline.

Time table

You can view the timetable for the current academic year at Click on "degree programme", enter "Linguistics", choose MA Linguistics, Year 1, and click on "Show Timetable". You will now see all classes for all obligatory modules for the whole year. You can clickon "Change Display" at the top left to see classes for Term 1 and Term 2 separately. You need to attend all lectures and for most lectures, you will attend one additional tutorial.


Programme Director: Dr Richard Breheny

Teaching staff (NB: staff may occasionally be absent for a term or more on research or other leave)

In addition, we can call on the support of Teaching Fellows and Postgraduate Teaching Assistants.

Click below to listen to Prof Andrew Nevins talk about "slips of the ear":

Application and Entry

Key Information

Modes and duration
  • Full-time: 1 year
  • Part-time: 2 years

Start of programme

  • September intake only

Application deadline for entry in 2015/16:


Entry Requirements

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard is required.

English Language Requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

How to apply

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Who can apply?

The programme is particularly suitable for students whose undergraduate degree included a minority of linguistic course units, or who have studied linguistics of a more traditional type elsewhere. It is also suitable for good graduates who have encountered linguistics only indirectly, for instance through psychology, philosophy, or foreign language teaching.

Application deadlines
All applicants
29 July 2016
What are we looking for?
When we assess your application we would like to learn:
  • why you want to study Linguistics at graduate level
  • why you want to study Linguistics at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this rigorous programme
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Fees and Funding

Key Information

Tuition Fees (2016/17)
£9,550 (FT) £4,770 (PT)
£18,460 (FT) £9,285 (PT)


Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed (where available) below. For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.



Many linguistics graduates from UCL carry on studying linguistics at MPhil/PhD level with a view to pursuing an academic career. Others go on to teach languages, especially English (as a first or foreign language) or embark on a range of other careers, from law, media, computing and speech and language therapy to all aspects of commerce and industry.

First destinations of recent graduates include:

  • High School: English Teacher
  • Essex Police: Criminal Intelligence Analyst
  • Navix Europe: Translator
  • University of Cambridge: PhD Linguistics
  • University of Copenhagen: PhD in Linguistics
  • Apple: Inventory control specialist
  • University Lecturer
  • Editorial Assistant
  • Research Associate

Top career destinations for this programme
  • Lecturer in English, University of Kuwait (2012)
  • PhD Linguistics, UCL (2012)
  • Head of Events, PR and Marketing, Expert Witness Institute (2011)

Linguistics MA students acquire a wide range of transferable skills, which opens up opportunities in many different sectors include language teaching, translating and interpreting, marketing, communication, journalism, management, and law.

Graduates who achieve good results are well-placed to go on to a research degree in Linguistics at top universities, often with a view to pursuing an academic career.

General information on careers open to Linguistics graduates can be found here. This study looked at undergraduate students but some of the findings are applicable to MA Linguistics graduates.

Open Days

There are currently no general open days planned. However, if you are considering applying for the MA Linguistics degree programme, we would be happy to arrange a date and time for an informal chat to answer your questions and guided tour of our building between mid-November and mid-July. Please contact to arrange this.


Next Steps

Contact Information
Register your interest

Keep up to date with news from UCL and receive personalised email alerts.
Register your interest

Make an application

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now



Do you accept part-time students on the MA Linguistics programme?


Yes, you can study the programme on a part-time basis over two calendar years, e.g. from September 2012 to September 2014. However, please note that classes may be scheduled between 9 am and 6 pm from Monday to Friday.



Will completing this programme help me get onto an MPhil/PhD programme?


The MA Linguistics is an intensive course which covers all the main areas of theoretical linguistics and also gives you a taste of empirical/experimental work in the field, so it provides essential background and some training in research skills. If you do well in the programme, your chances of being accepted onto an MPhil/PhD programme in theoretical linguistics are good. However, it is unlikely that you could proceed straight after completing the MA Linguistics programme to a PhD due to the very early application deadline for PhD programmes (and especially for funding) - it is usually too early for a student to be able to develop a good research proposal. Most students find that they need to first finish the Master's dissertation, before they are ready to think about an appropriate topic for doctoral research, so there is usually an interim year between the Master's and starting a PhD. However, there may be exceptions to this and it may depend on where you want to go to do your doctoral work.



Is this programme or any of the modules available online or by distance learning?


No, students have to attend classes in person.



Do you have any Open Days?


Yes, we do have an Open Day, usually at the end of June. The next Open Day is on 26 June 2014. We can also arrange individual visits - please send your cv and a short personal statement regarding your interest in the MA Linguistics to



Is there a list of book I can read to get a better idea of the subject?


You can find a reading list at