English Linguistics (Distance Learning) - MA

  • Level: Postgraduate Taught
  • Starting: July 2019
  • Study mode: Distance Learning
  • Location: This course is offered via online learning.
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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.

What's covered in the course?

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

Why Choose Us?

  • The course is taught by leading authorities in the field. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework judged that 76.3 per cent of the books and articles written by School of English lecturers were either world-leading or internationally excellent, putting us in the top 20 English departments in the country.
  • You'll be given support and guidance from our dedicated team of staff throughout.
  • The MA is delivered entirely through distance-learning with no requirement for you ever to attend the University.
  • The course is designed for maximum flexibility, with a generous time limit of 6 months for each module (16 months for the dissertation) and a 5 year maximum enrolment period overall.
  • Fees are charged on a modular basis as you progress through the course, with no up-front costs.
  • This is a chance for you to study a subject you love at your own pace, anywhere in the world.

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Open Days

Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Sunday 24 November. Register your interest and we'll send an email update nearer the time. Visit us to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.

Book your place

This course is open to International students

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Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

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Where our students go

Our students have progressed into jobs such as:

  • Teaching and other educational professionals n.e.c.

Speak to an expert

If you’ve got any questions about the course, we’d love to hear from you. Please email the Course Director: Tatiana Tkacukcova.

Email Course Director

Alternatively, you can register for our next postgraduate open day.

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.

International Students

Entry requirements here

International Students

Don't meet our entry requirements? You could apply for courses at our International College.

Apply now

Personal statement

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:

Your passion and motivations

Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?

Why this course?

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.

What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?

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.

Relevant academic or work experience

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


Module fees (subject to confirmation)

£655 per 20 credits.

    • Postgraduate Certificate: 1 x 40 credit module and 1 x 20 credit module = £1965
    • Postgraduate Diploma: 3 x 20 credit modules = £1965
    • MA: 1 x 60 credit module = £1965

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 and equal opportunities PDF form instead.

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.

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.

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 six months to complete a module, but it is possible to do so in three to five months. The PG Diploma could be completed in a year. The maximum registration period is five years.

At stage one, you will study the following modules:

Language Description
40 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.

Data, Theory and Method in Linguistics
20 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.

Stage 2: Postgraduate Diploma

You will pick three modules to study from the following:

Analysis of Spoken Discourse
20 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
20 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
20 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.

20 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.

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.

Assessment methods

The course is assessed entirely by coursework. For each module you will have to complete at least one assignment. You will need to gain the mark 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.

For those undertaking the full MA, 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.

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Enhancing your employability skills

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:

  • communicating in writing in a fluent, concise and precise manner; constructing substantial pieces of prose using appropriate register and style.
  • abstracting and synthesising information; collecting, analysing and manipulating data of diverse kinds.
  • recognising problems and developing problem-solving strategies, and evaluating their effectiveness.
  • working independently; demonstrating initiative and self-motivation; having effective organisational skills and time management.


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.

Graduate jobs

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:

Out international students

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.

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 or telephone. We also offer optional periodic seminar talks where you can meet the course team, along with your fellow students.

Meet our staff

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.

Dr Andrew Kehoe

Associate Professor, Deputy Head of School, Director of Research

Andrew Kehoe is Deputy Head of School, Director of Research, 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 has co-edited two volumes on Corpus Linguistics, and published a series of articles and chapters which have explored in depth the nature of web texts and the issues involved in extracting linguistic examples from them. 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 led the School of English return to REF2014, and is a member of the ESRC Peer-review College.

Dr Robert Lawson

Associate Professor

Robert completed his PhD in 2009 at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, where he examined the language use of Glaswegian adolescent males, focusing on fine-grained phonetic variation and the linguistic construction of social identity in interaction. During the course of his PhD, he studied at the University of Arizona for a year, teaching a range of undergraduate courses at the University of Glasgow and University of Stirling, and present at a number of international conferences.

In 2009, Robert took up a post as lecturer in English Language at Birmingham City University, where he continues to research language use in Scotland and the UK. 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 this time, he completed a major edited volume about sociolinguistic research in Scotland, as well as a number of peer-reviewed journal articles.

In 2013, he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Sociolinguistics and BA Course Director, with responsibility for the administration and organisation of the undergraduate BA course. More recently, his research has been on two main areas. The first is language in the media, where him and his colleagues have been looking at gender, interruption and turn-taking in the television show Mock the Week and the broader issue of institutional sexism in the entertainment industry. The second area is language in the public eye and the application of sociolinguistic research beyond academia. This programme of research has resulted in a landmark volume which examines the different ways in which sociolinguistic research can be leveraged for the improvement of human wellbeingand has been a key part of growing the field of applied sociolinguistics.

Read Robert's full profile

Dr Tatiana Tkacukova

Senior Lecturer and MA English Linguistics Course Director
Dr Tatiana Tkacukova has been working as a Lecturer in English Language at Birmingham City University since September 2015. Prior to joining the School of English, she was a Marie Curie Research Fellow working on the EU-funded project on communication challenges of self-represented litigants at the Centre for Forensic Linguistics, Aston University.

Read Tatiana's full profile

Dr Mark McGlashan

Lecturer and BA Course Director

Dr Mark McGlashan is Lecturer in English Language in the School of English. He holds several postgraduate research degrees in language and linguistics from Lancaster University. His interests predominantly centre on Corpus-based (Critical) Discourse Studies and the application of corpus methods to the analysis of a wide range of social issues including nationalism, racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Read Mark's full profile