UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Linguistics with a specialisation in Syntax MA

The Linguistics with a specialisation in Syntax MA is a research-oriented programme designed for students looking for a concentrated, advanced course in theoretical syntax, couched broadly within the Principles and Parameters approach to syntax and its offshoot: the Minimalist Program.

Key Information

Programme starts


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



Location: London, Bloomsbury
Fees and application deadlines:  Details available in the UCL Prospectus

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.

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 degree programme can be found here:


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 include 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, 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 ratios › 181 staff including 173 postdocs › 780 taught students › 440 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.

In the UK’s 2021 Research Excellence Framework, as part of the Faculty Unit of Assessment, UCL Psychology and Language Science’s Research Environment ranked equal First in the UK. Additionally, 92% of our research was graded 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

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme consists of four compulsory core modules (60 credits), two non-compulsory core modules (30 credits), two optional modules (30 credits) and a dissertation/report (60 credits).

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 modules also involve workshops or practical classes. Assessment is through take home and unseen examination, essays, presentations, assignments and the dissertation.

Detailed module information is available at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/pals/linguistics-plin-modules.


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

Compulsory Modules

The programme has the following compulsory component:

CodeTitleCredit value
(1 ECTS point = 2.5 UCL credits)
PLIN0049Dissertation in Linguistics60

Syntax Specialisation

Students will choose at least three of the following four modules:

CodeTitleCredit value
(1 ECTS point = 2.5 UCL credits)
PLIN0067Intermediate Generative Grammar Word Order15
PLIN0023Current Issues in Syntax15
PLIN0063Readings in Syntax15
PLIN0024Intermediate Generative Grammar Locality15

In addition, and in consultation with the programme director, students choose two further modules from a range of options (NB options offered may change year on year):

CodeTitleCredit value
(1 ECTS point = 2.5 UCL credits)
PLIN0070Advanced Phonological Theory15
PALS0009Introduction to Speech Sciences15
PLIN0066Intermediate Phonology15
PLIN0020Advanced Semantic Theory15
PLIN0053Interfaces in Syntax15
PLIN0009Semantic Theory15

In addition, students register for three 15-credit option modules in consultation with the programme director chosen from the list.


Programme Director: Prof Ad Neeleman

Staff teaching in the area of specialisation:

Other 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 Postgraduate Teaching Assistants.

Application and Entry

Start of programme

  • September intake only

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 or cognitive science, who wish to pursue an interest in theoretical syntax. Applicants will usually have taken at least a one-year course in generative syntax or equivalent.

For more information see our Applications page.

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 Syntax at graduate level
  • why you want to study Linguistics with a specialisation in Syntax 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.

Fees and Funding

Further information is available in the UCL prospectus: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught-degrees/linguistics-specialisation-syntax-ma#fees-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.

UCL Scholarships

For information on general scholarship opportunities.



Although the degree can be an end in itself, this advanced programme is an excellent preparation for independent doctoral research in syntax. Graduates from our specialised Linguistics Master's programmes  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 syntax.

Open Days

If you are considering applying for the MA Linguistics degree programme but are unable to visit us on a Chandler House Open Day, it may be possible to arrange a guided tour of our building at other dates between mid-November and mid-July. Please contact pals.lingteachingoffice@ucl.ac.uk


Register interest in your chosen subjects.
Receive notice of graduate open days, events and more.Register your interest



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.



Do you have any Open Days?


We will arrange virtual open days, and you can contact us at pals.lingteachingoffice@ucl.ac.uk for further information.