English Linguistics (Distance Learning) - MA

Online Learning
Continuous dates through 2015/16
This course is offered via online learning.
In order to get you to the correct application form, we need to ask you a couple of questions:

The MA in English Linguistics, a flexible distance learning degree, enables you to start the course at any time in any place. The course will help you develop the analytical and language skills necessary for the teaching of English, as well as many other careers.

You'll be fully supported throughout the course by a tutor assigned to you when you begin each module, as well as having regular contact with supervisors to ensure you achieve the best grade.

What's covered in the course?

Our English Linguistics course is delivered through the Moodle online learning resource, with online study materials to guide you through the appropriate topics, as well as providing links to other resources. You will also need textbooks, and a full reading list is provided with each module syllabus.

You will have the opportunity to delve deep into the fascinating field of English linguistics, as our course covers a wide range of methods and approaches. Incorporating both synchronic and diachronic perspectives, English Linguistics also enables you to reflect critically on issues in the study of language and undertake independent research in the field.

Although it is taught by distance learning, you will still have regular contact with your module tutor by email, telephone or post. We also offer optional periodic seminar talks where you can meet the course team, along with your fellow students. We pride ourselves on the support we offer, so you can be assured that any queries you have will be responded to quickly and informatively.

Throughout the course, you will learn how the English language has changed from its inception, as well as how language functions. You’ll further your skills and understanding of English linguistics and gain the skills and attributes that will stand you out from the crowd in today’s competitive job market.

Why Choose Us?

  • The course is taught by some of the leading authorities in the field.
  • You will have access to the use of the University’s library, including off-campus access to electronic databases and e-books.
  • The course is a chance for you to study a subject you love at your own pace, anywhere in the world.
  • If you’re a student in the UK, the library operates a postal loan service for books (postal charges apply).
  • The 2014 Research Excellence Framework found that 76.3 per cent of the books and articles written by School of English lecturers were judged to be either world-leading or internationally excellent, putting us in the top 20 English departments in the country on research quality.
  • You'll be given support and guidance from our dedicated team of staff throughout.
Visit our open day

Postgraduate Open Day

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be in Autumn 2016. The date will be confirmed soon and registration will open shortly.

In the meantime, register your details and we'll contact you when more information is available.

Sign up for Open Day info

This course is open to International students

New £10,000 postgraduate loans

You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £10,000 available for postgraduate study.

More about postgraduate loans

Entry Requirements

UK students

You would normally have a UK or internationally recognised honours degree, or its equivalent, in any relevant subject.

An alternative would be an ordinary degree/teaching certificate and two to three years' teaching experience.

EU/International students

For anyone who has studied at undergraduate level in a non-English-speaking country, we also require an English Language qualification equivalent to a British Council IELTS score of 7.0.

Module fees

  • £465 per 15-credit module
  • £930 per 30-credit module
  • £1,860 for 60-credit dissertation

Fees are payable on a module by module basis as you progress through the course. You are not required to pay for the whole course upfront.

Please note that the above fees are for all students - Home, EU and International.

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

This course is available part-time

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.

If you have any questions about applying, please contact us.

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Did you know that you will soon be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000?

Postgraduate loans

Stage 1: Postgraduate Certificate

The course is made up of two components – taught modules and a dissertation. As you progress through the course, you will gain a number of credits, and the accumulation of them will enable you to gain a series of staged qualifications.

Each module takes around 200 hours to complete, including the assignments. Although this is described as a part-time course, you decide how much time to devote to your studies and you can, in effect, study full-time if you wish.

You have up to eight months to complete a module, but it is possible to do so in four to five months, with 10 to 12 study hours each week. On this basis, the PG Diploma could be completed in two to three years. The maximum registration period is seven years.

At stage one, you will study two core modules and one option from the list below:

Language Description - core module
15 credits

The aim of this module is to lay a foundation of knowledge, skills and understand in English linguistic description. You’ll examine the main features of the pronunciation of English, as well as grammar and vocabulary. The module provides a framework and a terminology for talking about and describing key features of English phonology and lexico-grammar.

More about the Language Description module.

Language and Social Variation - core module
30 credits

Here you will consider linguistic and social definitions of what makes a language, as well as examining how members of a society have different varieties of language. You will also investigate how the social evolution of a language influences those who use it.

More about the Language and Social Variation module.

Analysis of Spoken Discourse
30 credits

We will introduce you to a range of theoretical models and approaches that may be used in the analysis of spoken discourse, and relate these to current research in the field. You will also examine some of the features of interactional discourse, and enable students to make independent analyses of spoken discourses.

More about the Analysis of Spoken Discourse module.

A History of the English Language
30 credits

English language has changed significantly from its earliest written records. In this module, you’ll equip yourself with the skills, insights and appropriate theoretical approaches necessary to analyse it. You’ll be encouraged to explore historical linguistics within a framework of cultural analysis.

More about the History of the English Language module.

Second Language Acquisition
30 credits

You will be introduced to the study of second language acquisition, with particular focus on the main theoretical constructs used in the study. You’ll learn a brief history of research, the similarities and differences between first and second language acquisition, and the different techniques used to carry out research.

More about the Second Language Acquisition module.

Words and Meaning
30 credits

This module will further understanding of the nature and limitations of semantic theory, and its value for gaining insight into how language functions. You’ll be encouraged to consider the extent to which truth conditional approaches to language are informative and what contribution speech act theory can make.

More about the Words and Meaning module.

Stage 2: Postgraduate Diploma

You will study the core module plus a further option from the Stage 1 list.

Data, Theory and Method in Linguistics - core module
15 credits

This module enables you to reflect on the nature of language data, and consider some of the theoretical frameworks used in the study of language. You’ll research methodology, the definitions of language and linguistics and types of linguistic data. Case studies will be examined and you’ll be able to criticise and evaluate the ways in which hypotheses are formulated.

More about the Data, Theory and Method in Linguistics module.

Stage 3: Masters

You will complete a dissertation.

60 credits

You will undertake a small-scale piece of research in English language/linguistics, developing an understanding of the processes of research in language study. The dissertation you write will see you do a lot of data collection, analysis, report writing and interpretation of data.

More about the Dissertation.

MA English Linguistics is assessed entirely by coursework. For each module, you will have two assignments that count towards your overall mark, and you’ll need to gain an average of 50 per cent in order to pass the module. The assignments vary, and can take the form of essays, reports, transcriptions and other analytical exercises.

All of these encourage you to develop and carry out your own research projects, drawing on your own experiences and context. 

Assessment methods

The course is assessed entirely by coursework. For each module you will have two assignments that count towards your overall mark. You will need to gain an average of 50% in order to pass the module. Assignments include essays, reports, transcription and other analytical exercises. Many of these encourage you to develop and carry out your own research projects so that you can relate the modules to your own context and experiences.

The dissertation is a small scale research project that you will carry out under the guidance of a supervisor assigned to you from the course team.

Further Study

There is a number of opportunities to consider upon completing your MA course. Popular options include MPhil or PhD studies.

For further information on courses contact Birmingham City University Choices. Tel: 0121 331 5595. Email: choices@bcu.ac.uk, or go direct to the courses section of the website.

Enhancing your employability skills

Postgraduates earn an average £9,000 more per year than those with just undergraduate degrees. (The Sutton Trust, 2015)

A postgraduate qualification can really help you stand out from the crowd in today’s competitive job market. By becoming a specialist in your field, you will have the chance to advance thinking in that subject and lead, rather than follow, the latest developments.


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Jim Crace novelist

Learn from industry experts

You could have the chance to learn from industry experts with guest masterclasses and visiting authors.

Novelist Jim Crace visited to carry out a series of workshops with students, giving feedback on their work and an insight into the world of professional writing and the publishing industry. Student Nabiyah Saddique said: "It was beneficial to students like me who want to write and be an author by career, to see how his experiences have shaped him and how he has created such beautiful pieces of work from these experiences."

Jim also enjoyed the chance to work with the students: "Everybody tried their hands at pitching an idea, writing the opening paragraphs of a novel, and line editing. It was testing and daunting but nobody fell short. The level of commitment and ability was astounding. London publishers should be beating a path to the School of English; it houses writing talent in abundance."

International Students

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Out international students

As a distance learning course, the MA in English Linguistics is appealing to students across the globe, as they are attracted to the course’s structure and accessibility.

It also provides them with further credentials that help them progress up the career ladder.

The MA is particularly popular with students in the Middle East, as well as students in Great Britain.

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Our English Linguistics course is delivered through the Moodle online learning resource, with online study materials to guide you through the appropriate topics, as well as providing links to other resources. You will also need textbooks, and a full reading list is provided with each module syllabus.

Although it is taught by distance learning, you will still have regular contact with your module tutor by email, telephone or post. We also offer optional periodic seminar talks where you can meet the course team, along with your fellow students. 

Meet our staff

Our staff are internationally renowned experts in the field of linguistics. Course Director Andrew Kehoe was lead software developer on the WebCorp project, and is an elected member of the Executive Board of the International Computer Archive of Modern and Medieval English (ICAME).

Professor Richard Ingham is a leading specialist on the language of medieval England and has published widely on the topic, while Dr Robert Lawson was the recipient of the Fulbright Scholar’s Award in Scottish Studies, being seconded to the University of Pittsburgh in the process.

Dr Andrew Kehoe

Associate Professor, Deputy Head of School, MA Course Director

Andrew Kehoe is Deputy Head of School, and Director of the Research and Development Unit for English Studies (RDUES). He studied at the University of Liverpool, gaining qualifications in both English and Computer Science. He researches in the field of Corpus Linguistics, with a particular emphasis on the use of the web as a source of natural language data and on the development of software tools to facilitate this.

Andrew was lead software developer on the WebCorp project and manager of the JISC-funded eMargin project, building an online collaborative text annotation tool for use in teaching. He also led the School of English return to REF2014 and wrote a blog post on the School's outstanding performance.

Andrew is an elected member of the executive committee of University English and the executive board of the International Computer Archive of Modern and Medieval English (ICAME). He has co-edited two volumes on Corpus Linguistics, and published widely in the field.

Andrew is Course Director of the School's distance-learning MA in English Linguistics.

Professor Richard Ingham

Professor of English Linguistics

Richard Ingham holds degrees from the Universities of Oxford and London, and has previously taught at the University of Reading. His teaching profile includes language acquisition, English grammar, and the linguistic history of English. His research interests are in language acquisition and change, with special reference to historical English/French contact.

He has published in a large number of international refereed journals, such as Journal of Child Language, Linguistics, Lingua, Language Variation and Change, Transactions of the Philological Society, Linguistische Berichte, Medium Ævum and Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie. His most frequently cited publications are on Middle English negation, and Anglo-Norman in contact with Middle English.

His current research focus is on language in medieval England, especially English-French bilingualism. Following two British Academy-funded workshops on contact influences between English and French held here in 2007-2008, he is Principal Investigator on the Leverhulme-funded ‘Bilingual Thesaurus of Medieval England’ project hosted at BCU. 

Dr Robert Lawson

Lecturer and BA Course Director

Dr Robert Lawson completed his ESRC-funded PhD thesis at the University of Glasgow in 2009 which focused on urban adolescent language use in Glasgow. During the course of his PhD, he completed a period of overseas research training at the University of Arizona, taught a range of undergraduate courses at the University of Glasgow and University of Stirling, and presented at a number of international conferences.

Since starting in his role at Birmingham City University, Dr Lawson has continued to focus on language use in Scotland and the UK, as well as the application of sociolinguistic research beyond academia. In the academic year 2012/13, he was seconded to the University of Pittsburgh as the recipient of the Fulbright Scholar's Award in Scottish Studies, during which he completed a major edited volume about sociolinguistic research in Scotland and started a longer term project examining the application and impact of sociolinguistic research beyond academia (with Dr Dave Sayers).

Dr Lawson is also working on a project with Dr Ursula Lutzky which analyses patterns of interruption and turn-taking in the television show 'Mock the Week' and examines these patterns in relation to issues of institutional sexism in the entertainment industry.

Professor Mark Addis

Professor of Philosophy, Director of Research

Mark primarily focuses upon Wittgenstein and related areas but also has active research interests in the philosophies of language, mind, and religion. He has published three books on Wittgenstein, namely, Wittgenstein: Making Sense of Other Minds (1999), Wittgenstein and Philosophy of Religion (2001) and Wittgenstein: A Guide for the Perplexed (2006).

Mark's contributions to the study of Wittgenstein are widely cited across academic disciplines within the humanities and social sciences, and have received international recognition. He is the General Editor for the Philosophy Insights series at Humanities-Ebooks.

In 2005, Mark was a Visiting Scholar at the Department of Philosophy at Georgia State University and from 2007 onwards a Visiting Professor at the Department of Philosophy at Aarhus University.

He is a Research Associate at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science at the London School of Economics and Deputy Director for the Centre for the Study of Expertise at Brunel University.

Mark is a member of the Schools and Executive Committee of the British Philosophical Association and the AHRC Peer Review College (2007 - 2014). He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Professor Howard Jackson

Visiting Lecturer

Howard Jackson gained his PhD from Reading University, and his research interests are in English Grammar, Vocabulary and Lexicography. Howard Jackson has written eight books (for Longman and Routledge among others) and numerous articles on grammar, vocabulary and lexicography. An invited speaker at conferences all over Europe, he continues to enjoy an international reputation for his work.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295