The MA in English Linguistics is a flexible distance-learning programme. You can work at your own pace fitting your study around work and other commitments.
The programme is well established, having been introduced in 1992, but it continues to evolve. It’s now delivered via the Moodle virtual learning environment with interactive content being developed exclusively for MA students.
This programme will enable you to develop advanced analytical skills and in-depth linguistic knowledge, and to gain experience as an independent researcher.
It begins with the Language Description module, designed to give you confidence in working with the essential building blocks of linguistic analysis: grammar, morphology, and phonology. You’ll then study Data, Theory & Method, covering topics such as hypothesis testing, the role of linguistic theory, data collection, academic referencing and research ethics. There are optional modules too, covering topics such as sociolinguistics, second language acquisition, spoken discourse analysis, and the history of the English language. In choosing three of these modules you can tailor your studies to your individual interests and career aspirations. The final dissertation is a piece of original research on a topic of your choice.
One of our key strengths is that the programme is taught by leading authorities on the subjects covered. Our teaching staff are active researchers who, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, publish world-leading journal articles, chapters and books. This research feeds directly into the MA learning materials.
You’ll be fully supported by a tutor assigned to you when you begin each module who can be contacted by email or telephone. There’s no requirement for you ever to attend the University, but there are ample opportunities for you to do so if you wish.
This is a staged qualification, meaning you can choose to exit with either a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma or you can continue to the MA stage.
“The modules are diverse and very interesting yet challenging as well. The teaching staff are brilliant and easy to communicate with via email, phone and even face to face if you make an appointment. I love that the staff are not only approachable but they offer superb feedback on formal and informal assignments. They challenge you in order to draw out your creative side and produce high level of work. The course is well structured and the modules are broad so you're covering a lot of different aspects of linguistics.” MA Linguistics graduate, 2016
Drop in to one of our informal postgraduate events - our staff and current students will be on hand to answer all your questions.
Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.
Our students have progressed into jobs such as:
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.
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.
UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*
Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?
Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.
Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.
Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?
You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.
£655 per 20 credits.
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.
These fees only apply to modules taken in the 2017/18 academic year. Fees for modules taken in subsequent years may be subject to change.
Please note that the above fees are for all students - Home, EU and International.
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.
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.
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 the following modules:
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.
Data, Theory and Method in Linguistics
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.
You will pick three modules to study from the following:
Analysis of Spoken Discourse
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
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
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.
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.
You will complete a dissertation.
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.
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.
There is a number of opportunities to consider upon completing your MA course. Popular options include MPhil or PhD studies.
Although the programme is not designed to train students for a specific career, you will develop knowledge and practical skills that will enhance your employability and help you to progress in a wide range of careers. The key transferable skills you will gain on the MA programme are as follows:
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.
Many of our students are English teachers who find the skills and knowledge they develop invaluable in their career development. Unlike some other programmes, however, this MA is not tied specifically to the teaching profession and opens up a wide range of opportunities for work or further study.
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:
More than 50% of the students on this programme are from outside the UK. All students, wherever they are in the world, have the same access to materials, the same support from tutors and pay the same fees.
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.
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 or telephone. We also offer optional periodic seminar talks where you can meet the course team, along with your fellow students.
One of the key strengths of the MA in English Linguistics is that it is taught by leading researchers in each of the sub-fields of Linguistics covered.
The Programme Director, Dr Andrew Kehoe, is an Associate Professor and Director of the Research & Development Unit for English Studies.
Dr Robert Lawson is a Senior Lecturer specialising in Sociolinguistics, while Dr Tatiana Tkacukova is an expert in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.
Professor Howard Jackson, author of several textbooks on English grammar, vocabulary and lexicography, established the MA in English Linguistics in 1992 and, though he has now retired from face-to-face teaching, continues to teach the MA Language Description module.
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.