UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


MSc Language Sciences: Development of Language and Speech

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The Development of Language and Speech route explores how humans acquire one of the fundamental yet most complex skills that is a hallmark of our species – the ability to communicate through language. Throughout your studies, you'll learn about different aspects of first language acquisition (syntax, semantics & pragmatics, speech perception & production), how we acquire a second language, and how to study language development in typical and atypical (e.g., dyslexic, autistic) populations.


On the MSc Language Sciences programme (Development of Language and Speech route) you will complete 180 UCL credits from a range of compulsory, optional and elective modules. This selection of modules has been chosen to provide you with a flexible degree that you can tailor to your specific interests whilst meeting the learning outcomes of the specialised Development of Language and Speech route.

Compulsory modules are taken by all MSc LangSci students, whatever their strand of specialisation. You will undertake three core taught modules, Introduction to the Brain and Imaging the Brain (PALS0001),  Fundamental Statistics: Statistical and Causal Reasoning (PSYC0223) and Research Methods: Principles, Skills and Applications (PALS0048). The Research Project (PALS0025) is mostly carried out in the Summer period, after other assessments have been completed.

Module CodeModule TitleUCL Credits
PALS0001Introduction to the Brain and Imaging the Brain15
PSYC0223Fundamental Statistics: Statistical and Causal Reasoning15
PALS0048Research Methods: Principles, Skills and Applications15
PALS0025MSc Language Sciences Research Project60

PLEASE NOTE: PSYC0223 and PALS0048 are paired modules that cover introductory and intermediate statistical content over Terms 1 and 2. Applicants who have already reached an intermediate or advanced level of statistics prior to entry to the programme should contact pals.langsci@ucl.ac.uk to discuss the selection of an alternative Term 1 module at a more advanced level (PALS0049 Intermediate statistics: Data analysis visualisation with R or PSYC0146 Advanced statistics: Data analysis and modelling with R); an additional discipline-specific optional module in Term 2 can then be chosen. These changes will only be allowed when students demonstrate to have the requisite knowledge, and with consultation and approval of the Programme Director.

In addition to the compulsory modules listed above, you will register for three optional modules (45 credits) chosen in consultation with the Strand Coordinator from the set of 15 credit modules below.

Module CodeModule TitleUCL Credits
PALS0016Developmental Disorders of Language, Learning and Cognition15
PALS0050Advanced Topics in Language and Speech Development15
PLIN0008Introduction to Children's Language Development15
PLIN0035Psycholinguistics: Stages in Normal Language Development (students selecting this module must also select PLIN0008)15
PLIN0019Semantic and Pragmatic Development15

Finally, you will choose two further elective modules (30 credits) from all of those offered within the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, subject to availability and normal pre-requisites. Some possible modules are listed as examples below, but this list is not exhaustive.

PALS0004: Conversation AnalysisPLIN0018: Issues in Pragmatics
PALS0005: Neuroscience of LanguagePLIN0021: Phonetic Theory
PALS0020: Deafness - Cognition and languagePLIN0023: Current Issues in Syntax
PALS0029: Human Voice: Speech, emotions, identityPLIN0029: Stuttering
PALS0030: Second Language Speech LearningPLIN0048: Foundations of Linguistics

The full list of modules offered in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences can be found in the UCL Module Catalogue.


You 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?

This programme is designed for students with a background in a related discipline who wish to deepen their knowledge of language sciences. The degree is ideal preparation for those interested in applying for a research degree in language development/speech sciences/neuroscience (delete as applicable), linguistics or a related discipline and will also appeal to individuals currently working in areas such as education, speech and language therapy, audiology and speech technology. 

Successful applicants will normally hold, or be progressing towards, a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard in a language-related area such as Linguistics, Speech Sciences, English Language, Psychology or Cognitive Science. We also warmly welcome applications from those with degrees in a cognate discipline such as Computational Science.
Your application will be evaluated on the basis of the quality of your degree and degree institution; the quality of your references; your relevant skills and experience; the quality of your personal statement and the suitability of your career plans.

What to include in your personal statement:

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.

When we assess your personal statement, we would like to learn:

• why you want to study Language Sciences at graduate level,
• why you want to study Language Sciences at UCL,
• why you have applied to your chosen strand (Language Development, Neuroscience Language & Communication, Speech Sciences, Sign Language & Deaf Studies),
• which module(s) on the strand interest you most and why,
• if there is a particular research area, research question, or research project you would like to work on; if there is a specific staff member you would like to work with, we encourage you to include this,
• how your academic and professional background have prepared you for the programme,
• how studying for the MSc will enable you to meet your short- and long-term career goals.

Application deadlines

All applicants
The deadline for applications for September 2023 entry is May 19th 2023

For more information see our Applications page.

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