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Linguistics with a specialisation in Semantics MA

The Linguistics MA with specialisation in Semantics is a research-oriented programme in formal semantics. The programme can prepare students for potential PhD research in semantics or overlapping disciplines, such as the syntax-semantics interface, pragmatic theory, psycholinguistics, and philosophy of language.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2017

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years

Tuition fees (2017/18)

£9,840 (FT) £4,915 (PT)
£19,010 (FT) £9,560 (PT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 3 October 2016
Close: 28 July 2017

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.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

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:

Degree information

Students will gain knowledge and critical understanding of current research in semantics and of the formal tools it employs, preparing them for independent research. On completion of the programme they will be able to formulate appropriate research questions, evaluate current literature, and develop and test new hypotheses using appropriate formalisms.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of two obligatory core modules (30 credits), two pathway modules (30 credits), four optional modules (60 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).

Core modules

  • Advanced Semantic Theory
  • Semantics Research Seminar
  • Pathway modules (students select two from the list below)
  • Current Issues in Syntax
  • Interfaces
  • Formal Methods in Philosophy
  • Semantic Pragmatic Development
  • Topics in Semantics and Pragmatics

Optional modules

A further four modules are selected, either from the list of non-compulsory core modules above or from the list of optional modules below:

  • Advanced Phonological Theory A
  • Animal Communication and Human Language
  • Intermediate Generative Grammar A
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Issues in Pragmatics
  • Language Acquisition
  • Morphology
  • Neurolinguistics
  • Readings in Syntax
  • Syntax Research Seminar
  • The Linguistics of Sign Languages
  • Or any statistical training outside the department.

All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation in linguistics (advanced level) of 10,000 words.

Teaching and learning

The teaching and assessment of this programme is strongly research-oriented. 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 with a specialisation in Semantics MA


For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Although the degree can be an end in itself, this advanced programme is an excellent preparation for independent doctoral research in semantics. Graduates from our specialised Master's programmes in Linguistics have a very strong track record of securing funded doctoral studentships at institutions and have in recent years gone on to research at MIT, Cambridge, UCL, University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.


This Linguistics MA equips graduates with the necessary skills to carry out research in the specialised subject of formal semantics.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The UCL Division of Psychology & Language Sciences undertakes world-leading research and teaching in mind, behaviour, and language. UCL Linguistics is a leading department for research in the UK in semantics, with strengths at the interfaces with syntax, pragmatics and philosophy of language. Uniquely, our staff includes three experimental linguists with interests in semantics.

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, cognition, and communication.

Our world-class research is characterised by a tight integration of theoretical and experimental work spanning the full width 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 numbers › 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.

What our students and staff say

Staff view

"My research focuses on the underlying mechanisms guiding human language. I am interested in the very basic logic of language: how simple words like 'every', 'any' and 'if' work. Terms like these, I believe, are the basic scaffolding of language, allowing us to communicate an endless set of possible thoughts. Despite their simplicity, however, many aspects of these basic terms are still not well understood. My research seeks to integrate developments in linguistics, psychology and logic to give us a picture of the nature and origins of these building blocks of language. "

Daniel Rothschild

Linguistics with a specialisation in Semantics MA

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 designed for students with a background in linguistics, cognitive science or philosophy of language, who wish to pursue an interest in semantics. Although the degree can be an end in itself, it is an excellent preparation for independent doctoral research in semantics or overlapping areas.

Application deadlines

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 with a specialisation in Semantics at graduate level
  • why you want to study Linguistics with a specialisation in Semantics at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this rigorous programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

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.

This programme is aimed at applicants whose undergraduate studies included a significant number of modules in theoretical linguistics, cognitive science and/or philosophy of language and you should refer to these in your personal statement.

Contact information

Page last modified on 20 October 2016 at 12:07 by UCL Publications & Marketing Services. Please contact us for content updates.


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