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How do we learn and use language? What do languages have in common? How and why does language change? Language is central to everything we do and is the essence of who we are as human beings.
Linguistics is the scientific study of language, seeking to understand how it is structured, used and acquired. Discover how spoken and written language is used in various social, political, cultural and philosophical contexts, including the media, literature and everyday conversation; and explore its relationship with the mind.
Our multidisciplinary focus allows you to study all aspects of language, including its nature, structure and use, and discover how it varies according to person, time and situation. Your knowledge and understanding of how a language works and how we communicate will give you a solid foundation for many careers.
The course builds from developing core skills in analysis and linguistic investigation, to applying these skills in more advanced modules in your second and third year.
In your first year, you learn the fundamentals of language. In your second and third years, there are opportunities to customise your programme of study according to your own intellectual interests. You can choose from a broad range of topics focused on language structure, including grammar (morphology, syntax), sound patterns (phonetics, phonology) or meaning (semantics, pragmatics).
You might also choose to explore the way we learn and understand language (psycholinguistics), the relationship between language and society (sociolinguistics), or between language and literature (stylistics).
You can also study modules with a more vocational focus, such as language learning and teaching, creative and media writing, and language and media.
It is possible to spend a year or a term abroad at one of our partner institutions in Asia, Europe or North America. You don’t have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent but certain conditions apply.
The Linguistics Laboratory has facilities for experimental and quantitative research in acoustics, sociophonetics, and speech and language processing and acquisition. This includes a soundproof recording studio and eye-tracking software. You also have access to the School of European Culture and Languages’ recording studio and a multimedia lab.
The English Language and Linguistics Society is based around a common interest in language. It provides excellent networking opportunities and access to valuable knowledge and resources that could enhance your studies.
We also host the Centre for Language and Linguistics, which runs a programme of seminars, lectures and reading groups that you may join.
You are more than your grades
At Kent we look at your circumstances as a whole before deciding whether to make you an offer to study here. Find out more about how we offer flexibility and support before and during your degree.
The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Some typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. Please also see our general entry requirements.
If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes. Please note that international fee-paying students who require a Student visa cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
Please note that meeting the typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee that you will receive an offer.
The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis.
If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.
The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances. A typical offer would be to achieve DDM.
34 points overall or 15 points at HL
Pass all components of the University of Kent International Foundation Programme with a 60% overall average including 60% in Academic Skills Development.
Please see our English language entry requirements web page.
If you need to improve your English language standard as a condition of your offer, you can attend one of our pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes before starting your degree programme. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.
I wrote a piece and then pitched it to The Independent. And they published it! I’m really proud of that.
They are all active researchers so you get expertise on every aspect of the course, which really shows in the dissertation seminars.
Duration: 3 years full-time (4 with a year abroad), 6 years part-time
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘elective’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.
This module will focus specifically on the level of language we call grammar. Each week students will focus on a particular aspect of English grammar (e.g. word classes, grammatical functions, sentence structure) from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Students will be provided with analytical tools for understanding and constructing arguments about linguistic structure (e.g. morpho-syntactic tests, constituency tests). Through being provided with a conceptual framework for description and analysis, students will gain a deeper understanding of English grammar, whereas practical application will enable students to be more critical of their own written work, and thus also to develop and hone their writing skills.
The module is particularly useful for students who are studying language or literature, as it enables them to compare styles in light of grammatical information and provides them with analytical skills for understanding language and language-related behaviour. Likewise, the module is also useful for students wanting to improve their writing in an academic context as well as those contemplating a career in publishing, journalism or teaching, in which the ability to express oneself accurately and succinctly is essential.
This module will begin by offering a basic description of speech sounds, with emphasis on those used in English and detailed descriptions first of consonants, and then of vowels. The gaps between sound and orthography will be highlighted as symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) are learned. The course will then move from phonetics (the study of speech sounds) to phonology (the study of the sound systems in language), focusing on phonotactics and other phonological rules of English. At the end of the term, basic prosodic concepts such as stress, rhythm, intonation and phrasing will be discussed. The main focus of the module will be on the standard variety of English spoken in the UK (often referred to as Received Pronunciation, or RP), but phonetic and phonological variation in non-UK and non-standard varieties of English will also be discussed (rhotic vs. non-rhotic varieties; luck-look merger).
This module presents and discusses the properties of human language, explaining how the discipline of Linguistics investigates and theorises about these properties. It familiarises the students with the goals and principles of Linguistics, as well as their development over the years. Students will also learn about core concepts and debates (e.g. language universals, relationship between language and cognition).
The course offers an introduction to major themes in sociolinguistics. It will begin by exploring how our notions of 'language', 'dialect' or ‘style’ are constructed, and from there explore notions of ‘correctness’ in language, and their origins. It will then consider how social relationships are reflected and encoded in different languages, for example in kinship terms, terms of address, or politeness forms, and how individuals are placed – or place themselves – socially through their linguistic choices.
The middle part of the module will explore language variation and change, and the social parameters which correlate with them. It will conclude by analysing issues arising from the interplay between language and identity in multilingual societies: bi- and multilingualism, code-switching, language death and its causes, language revival and language revitalisation.
This module introduces linguistic approaches to the study of meaning and communication, emphasising the processes of decoding and inference through which interpretations are constructed. Relevant theoretical work in the fields of semantics and pragmatics is outlined, discussed and evaluated critically. Students explore intersections and differences between verbal meaning and meaning construction in both spoken and written discourse. The module also explores controversies over utterance or text meaning, connecting debates about how meanings are constructed with questions pertaining to boundaries of reasonable or warranted interpretation.
The module introduces students to the study of Stylistics as a systematic way to explore and analyse literary texts. Particular aspects of the structure of English will be related to literary texts from the three main genre. The first block considers linguistic choice and its relation to style and meaning, the levels of language, sound meaning and effect in poetry and figurative language and metaphor; the second block examines style and style variation in prose fiction, point of view and speech and thought presentation; the third block examines conversational structure and character, discourse structure and strategies, and impoliteness and characterisation in drama text. The lectures introduce theoretical and methodological material and the seminars enable the student to produce their own analyses with reference to specific stylistic features.
This module focuses on the global spread of the English Language as an aspect of historical and contemporary cultural and commercial events. Students will get the opportunity to compare varieties of English both in Britain and other English speaking countries, examining the features that distinguish them from each other. These varieties will include British, American and Australian English in addition to other colonial and pidgin and creole varieties. The descriptive focus of the module will also give students the opportunity to apply the knowledge they have gained in other modules, in particular: language analysis, phonetics and phonology, morphosyntax and sociolinguistics.
You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.
This course will introduce students to one aspect of formal linguistics, specifically syntactic theory. Syntax will be defined as one aspect of a person's grammar, to be distinguished from the lexicon, semantics, morphology, and phonology. Focusing on the structure of sentences, the course will examine the principles according to which phrases and structures are formed, as well as speakers' knowledge about the structural well-formedness of the sentences they hear and produce.
Students will gradually learn to draw syntactic trees that can represent the syntactic operations that they will be introduced to. They will learn to conduct syntactic tests on English and cross-linguistic data, thereby becoming versed with the empirical method. The course will combine both minimalist and earlier government and binding work. We will examine the competence/performance distinction, the notion of I-language, poverty of the stimulus arguments, levels of representation, phrase-structure rules, and constituency tests as a means for testing phrase structure, case theory, theta theory, binding and movement.
This course is an introduction to morphology and to the practice of morphological analysis. By focusing on a range of phenomena, including those falling under inflection, derivation, and compounding (both in English and in other languages), the course helps students develop tools for pattern observation in data, description and analysis of word structure, and hypothesis testing. Students will also gain an understanding of the role of morphology in the grammar and how it relates to other components, such as phonology, syntax and semantics.
In this module, students develop a range of skills which will enable them to undertake the narratological and linguistic analysis of media texts (the term 'text' is used broadly here, and will encompass both written and oral sources) taken from a number of sources, including newspapers, magazines and online discourses. Areas covered include: genre theory, register, narrative theory, multimodality, dialogism and discourse analysis. Also discussed are complex and challenging ideas around the notion of words, signs, and grammar in context. Students will develop the ability to approach the language of the media critically and to read the press perceptively so as to understand the importance of the media in a democratic society.
In this module, students continue to develop and explore the themes introduced in LING5360 – English Language in the Media 1.
Here, the focus is on semiotics as applied in the linguistic analysis of a wide range of media discourse types, but with particular emphasis on advertising. Areas covered include: semiotics, the work of Saussure, the British press, multimodality, the new media and social networking. Also discussed are complex and challenging ideas around the notion of words, signs, and grammar in context. Students will further develop the ability to approach the language of the media critically and to read the press perceptively so as to understand the acute importance of the media in a democratic society.
In this module students will be given the opportunity to gain experience in guided research, contributing to projects run by members of ELL staff, under their supervision. The research project will normally be relevant to a module that the student has taken or is currently taking.
At the beginning of the term, students will meet with the module convenor, who will recommend a project that is suitable to their interests. The assigned work may be affiliated to an on-going departmental research project documenting linguistic varieties. Alternatively, other guided research opportunities may be offered by members of staff carrying out investigations within their individual research interests.
During the course of this module, students will have to complete research tasks set by their supervisor. Students will meet with the supervisor at agreed intervals, in order to set a timetable for the completion of each task. Through these meetings, they will also receive advice and feedback on the progress of their research. Students will keep a log on the research process, which will be monitored by the supervisor. After having successfully completed the set research tasks, students will also write a report on the conducted research, demonstrating both their general understanding of the research process and their specific understanding of the project and the area of linguistic analysis that it belongs to.
This module examines the principles on which contemporary second language teaching methods are founded. It will analyse first and second language acquisition theories in the light of current developments in language learning and teaching theories. Students will analyse a range of language teaching methods taking into account the ways in which they reflect acquisition theory. The module will give students the opportunity to compare L2 teaching methods from the perspective of: form, function and meaning and student and teacher roles. This will allow students to evaluate the effectiveness of specific language teaching methods. Students will have the opportunity to discuss the ways in which context directly influences the choice and implementation of L2 teaching methods, and will be able to follow personal interests by investigating language teaching methods in context.
Although the focus is primarily on learning and teaching English, the language acquisition theories and L2 teaching methods examined in this module may also apply to the teaching and learning of any language.
This module is concerned with the stylistic analysis of literature and is based on the premise that the decision to study literature is also a decision to study the expressive mechanics of language (and vice versa). Attention is given to all three main genres (poetry, prose fiction and drama); thus the module is divided into three blocks according to the kind of text analysed. The first section examines poetry and considers topics such as patterns of lexis, phonetic and metrical organisation and the relationship to meaning; the second looks at fiction through patterns of style variation, inferencing and speech thought presentation; the third examines drama and considers topics such as the patterns in turn-taking and their relationship to the roles and functions of characters, speech act analysis and styles of politeness behaviour. At all stages of the module, the social and cultural context of the works studies will be an important consideration.
This module will explore the reasons for the initial exclusion of extralinguistic (i.e. social) data from linguistic theory, and the limitations of traditional dialectology, before exploring some early variationist studies by Trudgill (Norwich) and Labov (Martha's Vineyard; New York) and examining their theoretical bases. It will then examine the advances brought about by network studies (e.g. Lesley Milroy in Belfast), and the extent to which they offer a challenge to traditional assumptions in sociolinguistic methodology, which critically evaluates the so-called sociolinguistic gender pattern. The later lectures focus more specifically on issues of change, looking initially at neogrammarian theories and then the claims of Trudgill, James Milroy and others that certain kinds of change are predictable in specific types of social arrangement.
This course will start by examining the topic of language acquisition, demarcating the domains for linguistic inquiry. It will challenge everyday assumptions about the way in which children acquire language and introduce key theoretical issues, always assessing the validity of each theory on the basis of empirical evidence. The course will examine the biological basis of language and its localisation and lateralisation, using evidence from both typical and atypical populations. It will evaluate the role of input in language acquisition and the extent to which this facilitates linguistic development. All these issues will be set against an understanding of the normal stages of language acquisition, essentially mapping out the linguistic milestones reached by typically developing children to the age of four. An understanding of the interaction between the components involved (phonology, morphology, semantics, rudimentary structure, pragmatics) will provide the empirical backdrop to assess the efficacy of theoretical models introduced. The course will end, having laid the foundations for students to undertake a higher level of research in this area.
This module will introduce the students to the study of meaning at the levels of semantics and pragmatics. The discussed topics will range from the study of word meaning to the study of sentence meaning and utterance (contextualised) meaning. The module will introduce significant notions and theories for the field of semantics and pragmatics, such as theories of concepts, Truth Conditions, the Gricean theory of conversational implicatures, Speech Act theory, and Politeness theory. The students will have the opportunity to reflect upon real data and analyse the processes of conveying and understanding meaning at the semantics/pragmatics interface.
Groups of marks or bursts of sound are just physical entities but, when produced by a writer or a speaker, they are used to point beyond themselves. This is the property of aboutness or intentionality. Other physical entities generally do not have this property. When you hear a sentence, you hear a burst of sound, but typically you also understand a meaning conveyed by the speaker. What is the meaning of a word – some weird entity that floats alongside the word, a set of rules associating the word with objects, an intention in the mind of the speaker….? What is the difference between what your words imply and what you convey in saying them? How are words used non-literally, how do hearers catch on to the meaning of a newly minted metaphor? How can we mean and convey so much when uttering a concise sentence? When someone says something offensive, is it part of its meaning that it is offensive, or just how it is used? In this module we shall try to find some answers to the questions listed above.
You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.
Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally. You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.
You can apply to add a Year Abroad to your degree programme from your arrival at Kent until the autumn term of your second year. The Year Abroad takes place between Stages 2 and 3 at one of our partner universities. Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme. For a full list, please see Go Abroad.
You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stages 1 and 2 to proceed to the Year Abroad. The Year Abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification.
This module proceeds from the premise that the ambition to write creatively presupposes an interest in the 'expressive mechanics' of language. A more in-depth understanding of these processes will benefit the writer in many ways, for example by providing them with a precise taxonomy with which to precisely describe various fictional, poetic and dramatic techniques and by furnishing them with a critical nomenclature which will aid detailed analysis of their own and others' creative work. The module is designed to appeal not just to those with an interest in writing, but to anyone who would like to explore further and in a 'hands on’ fashion the insights into the expressive functions of language and text offered by stylistics. Students will be ‘doing stylistics’ in the broadest sense of that phrase.
A two-pronged approach is adopted, whereby students are at first introduced to various stylistic and narratological concepts and models (e.g. linguistic deviation, deixis, register, focalization, ways of representing thought/speech, and metaphor), then expected to produce creative exercises which implement and explore these concepts (for example, using linguistic deviation to foreground themes and images or using varying focalization to tell a story from different perspectives). Various ‘input’ texts (poetry, fiction and drama) will also be used as examples of the techniques and concepts under discussion, and some as the basis for textual intervention exercises (critical-creative rewriting). This process culminates in the production of a portfolio of students’ creative work (which may be one or more complete stories, a selection of poems, a dramatic text, or a mixture), accompanied by a critical commentary and stylistic analysis which will focus on how an understanding of stylistics and linguistics in general has impacted on the work.
The aim of this module is to advance students' knowledge of syntactic theory. As such, the course will expand upon a number of key topics from a broad range of issues introduced in the pre-requisite module, such as binding, the syntax of questions and relative clauses and theta theory. We will also examine the interfaces between syntax and other core areas of linguistic inquiry (semantics/pragmatics/morphology) by focusing on topics such as quantification, ellipsis, and anaphora. Relevant theoretical work will be outlined and discussed and students will have the opportunity to develop their skills in syntactic analysis and argumentation by investigating several empirical phenomena from a wide range of languages. They will also be encouraged to evaluate theoretical claims in the light of the observations drawn. As such, the module will equip students with the theoretical and methodological tools required in the specialised modules and will highlight the crucial role of description in supporting and testing theoretical claims.
This module is aimed towards students who are considering a career in journalism, freelance writing, publishing and related fields (a substantial proportion of the programme's cohort), but will also be of use to those with a general interest in the area of media and language studies. It enables students on the BA English Language and Linguistics programmes to put into practice the complex theories and methods of analysis they will have explored elsewhere on their programme of study by producing their own portfolio of journalism and media-related writing. It should be emphasised that a consideration of the impact of new media ('multimodality') on the field will form a substantial component of the module's content.
Students will carry out their own research, for example using Canterbury and its environs as their news area, collecting information, arranging and carrying out relevant interviews, and writing up projects. They will produce and submit a portfolio of original journalism in which they demonstrate their ability to use the English language, their understanding of grammar and their ability to structure their writing with the target audience in mind. Accompanying this, students will submit a critical commentary in which they will reflect on how an understanding of relevant discourse, stylistic and cultural theory has influenced their writing.
During this course, students will focus on a core set of linguistic case studies, which will equip students with the ability to:
• Assess the extent to which linguistic capacities interact with psychological ones;
• Recognise the relevance of the distinction between developmental and acquired disorders;
• Critically analyse evidence for/against linguistic principles being operative in child grammars;
• Distinguish between language delay and language deviance with regard to developmental disorders;
• Understand the results of social, cognitive and linguistic tests against which subjects' capabilities are measured.
Main themes will be picked from a variety of topics each year, from the following selection: Levels of Representation; Interaction between 'modules'; British Sign Language; Vocabulary and Syntax in the Aphasias; Morpho-syntactic abilities in SLI, complex syntax in Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome and Autism, Linguistic savants; Pragmatic knowledge in these disorders; Bi-Lingualism.
This course builds on the student's knowledge of semantic phenomena, introducing formal approaches and the semantic metalanguage. Students will be provided with a small set of formal tools for the analysis of linguistic meaning. Students will learn to use these tools to probe into the nature of meaning in natural language and into different types of semantic phenomena. Specific topics that will be dealt with include predication, argumenthood, entailment, presupposition, definiteness and quantification.
This module is useful for anyone who may be considering teaching languages to second language/foreign language learners in the future, with particular emphasis on English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), although it provides a rich variety of transferable skills for any participant. It raises awareness of the English language, introduces lesson planning, classroom organisation, language teaching and feedback. There will be an opportunity to observe ESOL teaching and plan and prepare a lesson. Guidance will be given on writing a lesson plan, using resources and creating materials for foreign language learners The emphasis is on building strategies and techniques for foreign language teaching and understanding what makes good practice.
This module is useful for anyone who may be considering teaching languages to second-language/foreign language learners in the future, with particular emphasis on English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), although it provides a rich variety of transferable skills for any participant. It builds on An Introduction to English Language Teaching 1 by increasing the range of skills and considering how to go about teaching specific groups of foreign language learners and assessing their needs. Guidance will be given on writing a syllabus, using resources and creating materials for learners. There will be an opportunity to observe ESOL teaching and to deliver an English lesson.
The module will begin with a consideration of what the term 'English' means, and of what other, potentially rival, languages have been spoken in the British Isles. It will then consider how successive waves of conquest shaped the sociolinguistic situation to one of di- or triglossia, with English one of a number of varieties used in a restricted set of socially determined domains. Using Haugen’s standardization model, we will examine the factors that led first to selection and later acceptance of English as the dominant variety, and consider the associated linguistic processes of codification and elaboration of function. Working with short texts from different time-periods, the module will then show how and why grammatical changes occurred in Anglo-Saxon, Old and Middle English (e.g. loss of case marking, gender, weakening of the verbal paradigm) and their consequences for the modern language. We will also consider phonological changes (e.g. the Great English Vowel Shift) and their consequences for dialect differentiation. We will conclude by exploring ongoing change in contemporary English (notably koineization in major cities), and the likely consequences for future English in the British Isles.
This course will focus on the structure of lexical items, the way in which these different lexical items are stored and the nature of the relation between them. Relevant theoretical work in the fields of psycholinguistics and language processing is outlined and discussed, and students will evaluate the efficacy of these theories based on experimental investigations that they themselves will construct and conduct, for example word association experiments, lexicon decision tasks and parsing phenomena.
You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.
The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.
For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.*
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.
Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.
Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status.
Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details.
You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.
Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.
At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence.
The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of A*AA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.
On average, you have two one-hour lectures each week plus two seminar classes of two hours each. However, this varies depending on the material and the nature of the module, and there may be additional workshops, discussion groups and practical sessions. You have group or one-to-one tutorials for research projects and dissertations, and also have tutorials with your lecturers and seminar leaders to discuss coursework and assignments. In addition, you have access to further information and support via Moodle, our interactive web-based learning platform.
At each stage, some modules are continuously assessed, while others combine coursework and examination. Stage 2 and 3 modules count towards your final degree result.
For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours. The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules. Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.
Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules. Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.
The programme aims to:
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
You gain intellectual skills in how to:
You gain subject-specific skills in the following:
You gain transferable skills in the following:
All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.
Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.
Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.
Linguistics at Kent was ranked 2nd for graduate prospects and 9th overall in The Complete University Guide 2021.
Linguistics at Kent was ranked 15th overall and ranked 11th for research quality in The Times Good University Guide 2021.
Previous graduates have gone on to work in:
The University also has a friendly Careers and Employability Service which can give you advice on how to:
We offer a number of modules with direct relevance to the world of work, including options that focus on teaching and on writing in the media.
Alongside specialist skills, you also develop the transferable skills graduate employers look for, including the ability to:
You can gain extra skills by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.
If you are from the UK or Ireland, you must apply for this course through UCAS. If you are not from the UK or Ireland, you can choose to apply through UCAS or directly on our website.Find out more about how to apply
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