Linguistics MPhil

London, Bloomsbury

The UCL Linguistics MPhil is the first research Master's degree in the UK with the specific aim of training students to a level where they can produce impactful research in theoretical linguistics, through dedicated Research Seminars and a comprehensive range of research methods development. This programme is a fantastic step for students wishing to progress to PhD research.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
All applicants: 16 Oct 2023 – 05 Apr 2024

Applications closed

Entry requirements

Normally a first-class UK Bachelor's degree, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, in a relevant subject.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

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

This programme is suitable for international students on a Student visa – study must be full-time, face-to-face.

Equivalent qualifications

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. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

The UCL Linguistics research department is known internationally for its outstanding work in all areas of theoretical linguistics and for its growing strength in experimental work.

Our staff carry out research aimed at discovering the nature and origin of the principles and representations that characterise human language, its acquisition by children, its neural basis in the brain, and its use in communication.

We encourage and facilitate cross-disciplinary interaction with psychologists, cognitive scientists and philosophers working on language and communication both at UCL and elsewhere. Undertaking a research degree in this department means you will be supervised by scholars who are leaders in their field with the expert up-to-date knowledge needed to guide you in shaping your own original research contribution.

Who this course is for

The Linguistics MPhil is ideal for those who want to conduct research beyond their undergraduate or Master's degree in one of our core areas of theoretical linguistics research: syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and phonology. Completing the MPhil programme ensures that our graduates who may enter doctoral work do so with a deep general understanding of the discipline. The MPhil will give you excellent credentials for entry into the competitive PhD degree programmes in linguistics.

What this course will give you

The Department of Linguistics boasts world-leading researchers in all of the main sub-areas of Theoretical Linguistics, as well as a large number of PhD students, with whom MPhil students are expected to interact closely. UCL Linguistics also has a close connection with colleagues in other universities in the London area (e.g. QMUL and SOAS), Oxford and Cambridge.

Furthermore, as it is located within the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, cross-disciplinary training and joint supervision is possible (with scholars in psychology, neuroscience, speech science, etc.). Additional graduate-level training, ACTL, taught by eminent scholars from the UK and elsewhere is also available.

The range of modules included on the Linguistics MPhil programme is unmatched by other linguistics programmes in the UK. This ensures that our students who enter doctoral work do so with a deep general understanding of the discipline. UCL Linguistics also has one of the largest groupings of experimental linguists in the UK and provides laboratory skills training. Together with generic training opportunities available within the division for statistics and other research methods, we have the most comprehensive training offer for the field. You will also receive training in transferable presentational skills, interview practice and teaching methods.

The foundation of your career

The MPhil programme started in 2021 and our first graduates will be awarded their degrees in 2023. A number of students already have offers for places on PhD programmes in both the UK and USA.


The Linguistics MPhil is ideal for those who want to do linguistic research beyond their undergraduate or Master's degree.

Completing it will enhance your chances of being successful in applying for PhD positions. Furthermore, this MPhil degree can satisfy the requirements of the MPhil phase of the PhD programme in Linguistics at UCL, allowing one to obtain a PhD in two years (minimum).

As for careers outside of academia, the combination of analytical and quantitative methods skills possessed by Linguistics research graduates provide the basis to progress to high-level positions including management consultancy, IT and government.


The opportunities for networking are vast. Academic staff are members of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, and some have been involved in running it.

The department regularly hosts academic conferences, and is part of the ACTL consortium, which offers additional training in theoretical linguistics. It also offers seminars by eminent international linguists. Completion of a research degree with us will give you excellent credentials for entry into the competitive PhD degree programmes in linguistics.

Teaching and learning

Students will typically audit relevant taught modules and attend the departments Linguistics Research Seminars depending on their training needs.

At the end of their MPhil, each student has to submit a written thesis of not more than 30,000 words, followed by a viva voce examination with two examiners, one who is internal to UCL and another who is external.

A typical full-time MPhil student will spend approximately 36.5 hours per week working on their MPhil.

The contact time that a student spends with their supervisory team, thesis committee members and on training courses varies from student to student depending on need throughout their MPhil.

Research areas and structure

The MPhil programme is based around specialist Research Seminars in the core areas of theoretical linguistics research: syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and phonology.

  • Phonology: relation between phonological representations and the speech signal; syllable typology; phonological variation and change;
  • Semantics: formal semantics and pragmatics; foundations of communication;
  • Pragmatics: philosophy of language; the semantics/pragmatics interface; Relevance Theory; figurative language; foundations of communication
  • Syntax: ellipsis, word order typology, syntax of phi-features, syntax-semantics interface, syntax-morphology interface; syntactic and morphological deficits in aphasia and other syndromes; (research is carried out in a broadly Chomskyan framework).

Research environment

Linguistics is based in Chandler House. Here there are facilities for psychology and language science research including, but not limited to, eye-tracking, electroencephalography (EEG/ERP), functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS), ultrasound, and transcranial electrical stimulation (TES), as well as several sound treated booths for behavioural studies and audiovisual recordings. There is a dedicated Experimental Officer to support research.

The two-year MPhil comprises graduate-level modules, including research seminars in syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and phonology, and a 30,000-word thesis.

Students complete the majority of the coursework in year one, and focus on research in year two. The programme aims at breadth and depth of study, and the opportunity to develop independent ideas in a sustained piece of research. Students are assigned to a supervisory team in their first year. Projects begin only in the second year of the programme and decisions about the direction and content of projects will be made in consultation with supervisors going into the final year.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £6,035
Tuition fees (2024/25) £25,900

Additional costs

This programme has no additional costs.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

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

Next steps

Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department as early as possible to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation.

All applicants must submit a sample of their work with their application and a short statement outlining their area of research interest.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.