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.
Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.
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.
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:
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:
UCL Language Sciences – Teaching Philosophy
UCL Language Sciences – Chandler House Tour
Further information on the MA Linguistics degree programme can be found here:
September 2017Location: London, Bloomsbury
Why study this degree at UCL?
The UCL Division of Psychology & Language Sciences undertakes world-leading research and teaching in linguistics, language, mind, and behaviour. More specifically, UCL Linguistics is one of the leading departments for research in theoretical linguistics in the UK and its staff includes world leaders in theoretical syntax, semantics, pragmatics, phonology, and experimental linguistics.
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.
Our world-class research is characterised by a tight integration of theoretical and experimental work spanning the full range of the linguistic enterprise and forms the bedrock of the department’s eminent reputation, which is also reflected in other markers of excellence, such as its editorial involvement with top journals in the field.
Department: Division of Psychology & Language Sciences
Student / staff ratios › 185 staff including 129 postdocs › 635 taught students › 477 research students
Research Excellence Framework (REF)
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: Division of Psychology & Language Sciences
83% rated 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.
- Content and Structure
September 2017Location: London, Bloomsbury
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.
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).
- Semantics and Pragmatics
- Phonetics and Phonology
- Foundations of Linguistics
Students choose one of the following:
- Advanced Phonological Theory
- Advanced Semantic Theory
- Current Issues in Syntax
- Intermediate Generative Grammar
- Issues in Pragmatics
- Language Acquisition
- Linguistics of Sign Language
- Phonology of English
- Readings in Syntax
- Semantic-Pragmatic Development
More information about optional modules is available on the department website
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 teaching and assessment of this programme is strongly research-orientated. It is delivered through a combination of lectures, small-group teaching and a virtual learning environment. Some modules 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 is available on the department website: Linguistics MA
The programme has the following obligatory components:
(1 ECTS point = 2.5 UCL credits)
PLING103 Semantics and Pragmatics 30 PLING113 Phonetics and Phonology 30 PLING227
PLING198 Foundations of Linguistics 15 PLING199 Dissertation in Linguistics 60
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.
You can view the timetable for the current academic year at www.ucl.ac.uk/timetable. 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)
- Dr Klaus Abels
- Dr Richard Breheny
- Prof Robyn Carston
- Dr Wing Yee Chow
- Dr Bronwen Evans
- Prof John Harris
- Dr Nathan Klinedinst
- Prof Ad Neeleman
- Dr Andrew Nevins
- Dr Nausicaa Pouscoulous
- Dr Kriszta Szendroi
- Dr Hans van de Koot
- Dr Jamie White
- Dr Yi Xu
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
Start of programme
- September intake only
Application deadline for entry in 2015/16:
September 2017Location: London, Bloomsbury
Application and next steps
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.
- All applicants
- 28 July 2017
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
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
UK/EU national may be eligible to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 to help with fees and living costs. Learn more about postgraduate loans.
For information on general scholarship opportunities, please select the link below:
September 2017Location: London, Bloomsbury
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.
Top career destinations for this degree
- Lecturer, University of Saudi Arabia
- Software Developer, OpenBet Ltd
- Investigations Specialist, Amazon
- Translator, Hunan University
- PhD in Linguistics, University of Cambridge
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.
Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2012–2014 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange this.
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 email@example.com.
Is there a list of book I can read to get a better idea of the subject?