English Language & Linguistics

Linguistics - MA

Canterbury

The MA in Linguistics at Kent offers an excellent opportunity to explore the broad spectrum of linguistics and its sub-disciplines.

Overview

The programme is designed for graduates with a background in language and related areas (for example, English, Modern or Classical Languages, Linguistics, Psychology, Anthropology), looking to explore the theory and methodology of linguistics in-depth, from the study of sound (phonetics and phonology) to the study of words (morphology), sentences (syntax) and meaning (semantics and pragmatics). It draws upon the considerable expertise of staff in the Department of English Language & Linguistics.

Students choose four modules each in the Autumn and Spring terms, including core modules on Sounds, Structure, and Meaning, supplemented with options on, for example, psycholinguistics, language acquisition, language learning and teaching, sociolinguistics and stylistics, , which allow studentsto develop areas of interest, and engage with aspects of their chosen discipline which are informed by the latest research and scholarship. They then complete a research dissertation of up to 15,000 words over the summer.

The programme is ideal for those with a keen interest in language in the broadest sense, and a willingness to explore theories of language critically.  The programme also offers a smooth transition to doctoral work for those who wish to pursue their studies further.

About the Department of English Language and Linguistics

English Language and Linguistics (ELL), founded in 2010, is the newest department of the School of European Culture and Languages (SECL). ELL is a dynamic and growing department with a vibrant research culture. We specialise in experimental and theoretical linguistics. In particular, our interests focus on quantitative and experimental research in speech and language processing, variation and acquisition, but also cover formal areas such as syntax, as well as literary stylistics. In addition to English and its varieties, our staff work in French, German, Greek, Romani, Korean, Spanish and Russian.

Staff and postgraduates are members of the Centre for Language and Linguistics (CLL), a research centre that seeks to promote interdisciplinary linguistic research. We also have links with research networks outside Kent, and are involved with national and international academic associations including the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, the British Association of Academic Phoneticians, the Linguistic Society of America, the Association for French Language Studies and the Poetics and Linguistics Association.

We welcome applications from students interested in MA and PhD research. Please see our staff and research pages for more information on the topics staff are able to supervise.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, modern languages and linguistics was ranked 3rd for research quality, 3rd for research output and in the top 20 for research intensity, research impact and research power in the UK.

Our submission was the highest ranked nationally to include modern languages – a testament to our position as the UK's European university. An impressive 100% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School's environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

 

Course structure

The programme comprises eight 15-credit modules.

The four core modules, Sounds, Meaning, Structure and Research Skills, provide you with a solid grounding in linguistic theory and methodology, while a range of optional modules either develop themes covered in the core module, or explore the relationship between language and other disciplines, such as literature (stylistics), the mind (psycholinguistics), and society (sociolinguistics).

Teaching in the MA in Linguistics takes the form of lectures, tutor-led and student-led seminars and tutorials, as well as problem-based workshops allowing students to engage with linguistic data and theory. You also have the opportunity to attend subject-related conferences and talks by visiting speakers.

You can study the programme on a 12-month full-time or a 24-month part-time basis.

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

LL832 - Meaning (15 credits)

This module will introduce students to the study of semantic meaning. The focus will be on developing a fluency with analytical tools in semantics and pragmatics, and using these to explain a range of phenomena. Topics covered will include truth-conditional semantics, reference, presupposition, conversational implicature, and Speech Act Theory. Students will have the opportunity to reflect upon real data and analyse the processes of conveying and understanding meaning.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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LL833 - Structure (15 credits)

This course constitutes an in-depth introduction to syntax, focusing specifically on the question of what constitutes knowledge of language. By examining a core area of linguistic investigation (syntax), students will have the opportunity to explore the form and structure of the various kinds of linguistic knowledge speakers possess. The investigation will proceed from a theoretical as well as a descriptive perspective, and students will be encouraged to evaluate theoretical claims in the light of observations drawn from a wide range of languages. 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.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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LL837 - Research Skills (15 credits)

This course will equip students with the necessary training in a broad range of research skills, with the express aim of preparing them for postgraduate level writing and research, and ultimately for their dissertation. Key topics will include: academic writing in linguistics; bibliographical search; hypothesis formation; falsifiability; ethical procedures; introduction to quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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LL838 - Sounds (15 credits)

This module deals with the linguistic study of speech. It covers how speech sounds are produced and perceived and what their acoustic characteristics are (often referred to as phonetics), as well as how speech sounds are organised into sound systems cross-linguistically (often referred to as phonology). Emphasis will be placed on the sound system of English (including dialectal variation) but basics of sound systems across the world's languages will also be covered and contrasted with English so that students are familiar with the gamut of speech sounds available in the world's languages. Finally, the course will cover the differences between the traditional "static" view of speech sounds as articulatory postures and the organisation of running speech. This will be covered together with the repercussions that our current knowledge about running speech has for our understanding of phonological systems, their organisation and formal representation in phonological theory.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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LL844 - Language Development in Exceptional Circumstances (15 credits)

During this course, students focus on a set of case studies (e.g. Language abilities in Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Specific Language Impairment and Down Syndrome; The Aphasias; Sign Language), which provide novel insights into ongoing questions within language acquisition research. Issues considered include: the extent to which linguistic capacities interact with psychological ones; the distinction between developmental and acquired disorders; the evidence for and against linguistic principles being operative in child grammars; the distinction between language delay and language deviance, and the reliability and validity of social, cognitive and linguistic tests against which individuals' capabilities are measured.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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LL845 - Sociolinguistic Theory (15 credits)

The module will begin with an examination of Labov, Weinreich and Herzog's early 'manifesto' for sociologically informed linguistics, and the reasons for dissatisfaction with structuralist and generative models in the 1960s/early 1970's. It will then review classic urban sociolinguistic work as exemplified by Labov (New York), Trudgill (Norwich), and the Milroys (Belfast), before exploring in turn the assumptions underpinning sociolinguistic methodology and some of its key findings (for example, the sociolinguistic gender pattern). The claims of sociolinguists regarding language change will then be considered, and some putative sociolinguistic universals, i.e. general claims about language in society which are presumed to be universally applicable, tested. The module will conclude with consideration of the relationship between social and linguistic structure, and examine some recent work in the field, which challenges the general linguistic tenet that all languages are equally complex.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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LL847 - Topics in Syntax (15 credits)

This course will explore a specific model of formal syntactic theory: Minimalism. By investigating some of the core issues developed within the Minimalist Program, such as the role of phrase structure, the central role of movement processes and the mechanisms which are responsible for them, students will have the opportunity to examine how the Minimalist framework can account for the differences and similarities found in languages, in which ways it is controversial and the assumptions it makes regarding the interaction of syntax with other linguistic components (morphology/semantics/pragmatics). Focusing on a specific model will give students the opportunity to consider in depth not only its methods and its aims, but also the proper nature of syntactic argumentation. The investigation will entail both theoretical and descriptive perspectives, thus emphasizing the importance of description in supporting and testing theory. As such, students will be encouraged to evaluate theoretical claims in the light of observations drawn from a wide range of languages.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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LL835 - Language Processing (15 credits)

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 will be outlined and discussed. Students will evaluate the efficacy of these theories on the basis of experimental investigations which they themselves will construct and conduct, for example word association experiments, lexicon decision tasks and parsing phenomena.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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LL836 - English Phonetics (15 credits)

This course is an introduction to English Phonetics. It covers how English speech sounds are produced and perceived and what their acoustic characteristics are; it covers how speech sounds are organized into the sound system of English and provides awareness of the types of dialectal variation present in English. Finally, the course will cover the differences between the traditional "static" view of speech sounds as articulatory postures and the organization of running speech, together with the repercussions that our current knowledge about running speech has for our understanding of phonological systems, their organization and formal representation.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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LL830 - Quantitative Research Methods (15 credits)

This course is an introduction to quantitative research methods in linguistics, with the aim of familiarising students with the main methodologies by analysis of relevant studies from the literature and hands-on experience with study design. Key topics will include: hypothesis formation; experimental design; paradigms for quantitative linguistic research; data analysis and interpretation.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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LL899 - Research Dissertation (60 credits)

The aim of the dissertation is to develop further the students' ability independently to plan, research, formulate arguments and communicate research findings in a coherent manner within an extended piece of written work. The dissertation functions both as the culmination of the year's work and as a bridge between guided and independent research, preparing (and, it is hoped, encouraging) students to continue on to carry out research at Doctoral level.



The topic of the dissertation will usually be based on, and develop from, work undertaken on one or more of the taught modules undertaken in the course of the MA.

Credits: 60 credits (30 ECTS credits).

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Teaching and Assessment

Assessment consists of a combination of written coursework, practical/experimental work (where appropriate) and seminar presentations.

On successful completion of the taught modules, students write a 15,000-word research dissertation (included in their final grade) on a topic agreed with their supervisor.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • enable you to obtain a postgraduate qualification (MA) in one year, and provide a smooth transition to doctoral work if you wish to pursue your studies further
  • develop your critical awareness of research methodologies in linguistics
  • offer a learning experience which is informed by the latest research and scholarship, and which requires you to engage with aspects of the discipline at the frontiers of knowledge
  • provide further development of critical, analytical and other transferable skills acquired at first degree level.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • terminology as required for linguistic description and theory and explanation
  • the interdisciplinary nature of linguistics
  • the description and organisation of sound systems: ie phonetics and phonology
  • the structures of individual words and sentences: ie morphology and syntax
  • the way meanings are generated: ie semantics and pragmatics
  • language varieties, styles and registers
  • language acquisition.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • critical reflection and evaluation of complex material
  • research methodology: the ability to gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a number of sources.
  • development of reasoned arguments on the basis of evidence.
  • synthesising and summarising information from a number of sources
  • reaching independent judgements about data or theory
  • identifying and selecting appropriate methodologies for research aims
  • understanding of ethical issues in the collection, handling and processing of data.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • knowledge and critical understanding of theory and methodology in linguistics, and an ability to apply these independently
  • appropriate presentation of linguistic data using charts, graphs, tables
  • evaluation and interpretation of linguistic data, in accordance with relevant theories and concepts of the (sub)discipline
  • the ability to identify linguistically valid arguments, and to distinguish descriptive from prescriptive judgements.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • oral communication: the ability to communicate effectively the results of study to both specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • written communication: the ability to communicate clearly and effectively in writing in an appropriate register
  • IT: a  high level of competence in information processing using relevant databases and online research
  • teamwork: effective interaction within small groups, exercising personal responsibility and appropriate decision-making skills
  • time management: effective note-taking, management of your own learning, conducting independent research, taking the initiative and meeting deadlines
  • high-level problem-solving skills in a variety of contexts.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

Our students benefit from training by enthusiastic and dedicated staff with expertise in a variety of areas of linguistics, from formal to quantitative and experimental fields.

ELL students also benefit from excellent library facilities and a linguistics laboratory equipped for research in speech acoustics (recording equipment, studio, software for speech analysis), speech and language processing and acquisition (including eye-tracking, DMDX and E-prime), and general data analysis (MS Office Suite, Statistica, R, and Matlab running on both PCs and Macs).

The Department organises seminars with local and invited speakers that take place throughout the year. Additionally the Centre for Language and Linguistics also organises various events from talks to symposia. In addition, postgraduates can attend any one of three reading groups: the Experimental Reading Group; the Stylistics Reading Group; and the Syntax Reading Group. These groups provide a space where staff, final-year undergraduates and postgraduate students have the opportunity to exchange ideas and learn more about current research issues in their area of interest. All three groups meet regularly to discuss recent research papers as well as draft research papers written by individual members of each group.

Although ELL is a new department, the study of linguistics has a long tradition at Kent and the Templeman Library is well stocked in all areas, particularly those in which we specialise, including sociolinguistics, phonetics, acquisition, language processing, language teaching and stylistics.

The School also provides high-quality IT facilities, including state-of-the-art media laboratories, dedicated technical staff and designated areas for postgraduate study. Other facilities include all-purpose teaching rooms, two networked multimedia laboratories equipped for teaching in phonetics and psycholinguistics and a streamed film library. Experienced technicians can provide support with computing, sound recording and digital media.

Training

In addition to one-to-one meetings with their supervisor, our research students benefit from many additional events that are either specifically designed for them or provide them with opportunities to liaise with all staff.

These events include:

  • an ELL-specific induction day for all postgraduates
  • the chance to act as peer-mentors for MA students
  • presentation of their research at LingLunch and our annual Research Day
  • participation in training seminars covering statistics, the peer-review system, experimental techniques in linguistics
  • reading groups, of which three are currently meeting on a regular basis: the Experimental Linguistics Reading Group, the Syntax Reading Group and the Stylistics Reading Group.

For those who wish to gain in-depth understanding of syntax, semantics and phonology additional training is provided through the Advanced Core Training in Linguistics (ACTL) of which Kent is a member along with Cambridge, Essex, Oxford, Queen Mary, University of London, SOAS and UCL. ACTL classes are offered in the autumn and summer and are open to all postgraduates.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Careers

Postgraduate work in English Language and Linguistics prepares you for a range of careers where an in-depth understanding of how language functions is essential. These include speech and language theory, audiology, teaching, publishing, advertising, journalism, public relations, company training, broadcasting, forensic and computational work, and the civil or diplomatic services.

Entry requirements

A first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject or equivalent.

International applicants for whom English is not their first language must have IELTS overall 7.0 with at least 6.5 for each component.

General entry requirements

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Alongside our research centre below, we also have links with research networks outside Kent, and are involved with national and international academic associations including the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, the British Association of Academic Phoneticians, the Linguistic Society of America, the Association for French Language Studies and the Poetics and Linguistics Association.

Linguistics Lab

The newly established Linguistics Lab is currently housed in Rutherford College and has facilities for research in acoustics, sociophonetics and speech and language processing. English Language and Linguistics (ELL) members also have access to the School of European Culture and Language (SECL) recording studio and multimedia labs which can be used both for research and teaching.

Centre for Language and Linguistics

English Language and Linguistics is the main contributor to the Centre for Language and Linguistics. Founded in 2007, the Centre promotes interdisciplinary collaboration in linguistic research and teaching. Membership embraces not just the members of English Language and Linguistics but also other SECL members with an interest in the study of language, as well as researchers in philosophy, computing, psychology and anthropology, reflecting the many and varied routes by which individuals come to a love of language and an interest in the various disciplines and subdisciplines of linguistics.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Professor Amalia Arvaniti: Professor of Linguistics

Phonetics, phonology, sociophonetics; the production and perception of prosody, cross-linguistic intonational pragmatics, sociophonetics, Greek linguistics, English linguistics and dialectology, bilingualism.

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Dr Laura Bailey: Lecturer in Linguistics

Theoretical syntax and typology, with a focus on polar interrogatives

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Dr Gloria Chamorro: Lecturer in Applied linguistics

Second language acquisition, bilingualism, first language attrition, TESOL.

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Dr Vikki Janke: Lecturer in Linguistics

Syntax, language acquisition and psycholinguistics.

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Dr Eleni Kapogianni: Lecturer in Linguistics

Semantics/pragmatics interface, experimental pragmatics, and intercultural pragmatics.

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Dr Christina Kim: Lecturer in Linguistics

Experimental pragmatics/semantics/syntax, psycholinguistics, syntax/pragmatics interface.

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Dr Tamara Rathcke: Lecturer in Linguistics

Tone and rhythm in music and language, variation and change of prosody, comparative phonetics and phonology.

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Dr Jeremy Scott: Senior Lecturer in English Language and Liteature

Literary representations of dialect, stylistics, narratology and creative writing. 

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Dr David Hornsby: Senior Lecturer in French and Linguistics

The history of the French language; sociolinguistics of French; sociolinguistic theory.

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Dr Angelos Lengeris: Lecturer in Linguistics

Phonetics, phonology, the practice of TESOL.

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Enquire or order a prospectus

Resources

Contacts

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 827272

E:information@kent.ac.uk

Subject enquiries

Postgraduate Office, School of European Culture and Languages

T: +44 (0)1227 816119

E: seclpgadmin@kent.ac.u

School website

Open days

We hold regular Open Events at our Canterbury and Medway campuses. You will be able to talk to specialist academics and admissions staff, find out about our competitive fees, discuss funding opportunities and tour the campuses.

You can also discuss the programmes we run at our specialist centres in Brussels, Athens, Rome and Paris at the Canterbury Open Events. If you can't attend but would like to find out more you can come for an informal visit, contact our information team or find out more on our website.  

Please check which of our locations offers the courses you are interested in before choosing which event to attend.

 

The University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in its publicity materials is fair and accurate and to provide educational services as described. However, the courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Full details of our terms and conditions can be found at: www.kent.ac.uk/termsandconditions.

*Where fees are regulated (such as by the Department for Education or Research Council UK) permitted increases are normally inflationary and the University therefore reserves the right to increase tuition fees by inflation (RPI excluding mortgage interest payments) as permitted by law or Government policy in the second and subsequent years of your course. If we intend to exercise this right to increase tuition fees, we will let you know by the end of June in the academic year before the one in which we intend to exercise that right.

If, in the future, the increases to regulated fees permitted by law or Government policy exceed the rate of inflation, we reserve the right to increase fees to the maximum permitted level. If we intend to exercise this extended right to increase tuition fees, we will let you know by the end of June in the academic year before the one in which we intend to exercise that right.

 

English Language & Linguistics, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

Enquiries: +44(0)1227 823638 or email English Language & Linguistics

Last Updated: 28/04/2014