BA (Hons) English Language and Linguistics

UCAS code Typical offer Length
Q302 AAB (See full entry requirements) 3 years full-time
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English is spoken by over one billion people, either natively or as a second language. By immersing yourself in the study of English, you'll reach deep conclusions about the nature of the language and discover the forces that have shaped it over time. You'll learn from world-leading academics, whose expertise covers topics from forensic phonetics to sociolinguistics. You'll develop skills of analysis and critical thinking through study of one of the world's most influential languages.

Course overview

Why study English Language and Linguistics at York?

Our approach to the study of English focuses primarily on spoken language data, using tools from the core areas of linguistics: syntax, phonetics and phonology, semantics, and sociolinguistics. You will also study the history of English, including the opportunity to learn some Old English, and to discover the changing shape of English over time. The course offers flexibility in module choices from the second year onwards, so you can focus on your main interests. You will be taught by world-leading academics, whose expertise covers a range of areas of linguistics, including forensic phonetics, historical linguistics, child language, and sociolinguistics. You will engage with the study of language both at the conceptual level and the detailed level of raw linguistic data.

I learned so much more from my degree than I imagined. I developed transferable skills which made me a strong candidate in the highly competitive global job market.

Carl, BA English Language and Linguistics

Our challenging combination of theory and practice is designed to stimulate your critical thinking skills, foster your originality, and enable you to become a uniquely skilled analytical thinker and problem-solver.

Do I need English Language A-level for this programme?

No. English Language A level (or equivalent) is an asset, but it is not required.

A top teaching and research community

We are a leading centre for research in linguistics, and the strength and diversity of our research is reflected in our teaching. 

An external reviewer commented: "There are many very interesting and innovative courses that are unique to York, or where York is leading the way. The teaching quality is extremely impressive, and the courses allow all students to achieve their potential."

Course content

What you'll study

The course builds from developing core skills in analysis of English and in linguistic investigation, to applying these skills in advanced-level modules by the final year. There are opportunities to customise your programme of study from the second year onwards, and you can choose to include more or less English language content, according to your own intellectual interests.

I liked that in the first year you study a broad range of modules, and then choose option modules in second and third year to build your own degree programme.

Louise, BA English Language and Linguistics, 2012

  • In the first year, the focus is on gaining foundational knowledge. The first term English language module grounds you in the basic vocabulary and concepts of traditional grammar, which form the bedrock of your future study of the English language. In the second term we put the modern language in context by exploring where it came from and why it is the way it is today. Throughout the year you learn core skills in linguistics that complement your English language studies.
  • In the second year, you will apply your core analytic knowledge to new types of English language and linguistic data, according to your interests (e.g., regional varieties of English, non-native English, historical development of English).  You will also continue to deepen your theoretical knowledge in the core areas of linguistics that you choose to pursue.
  • In the final year, you can choose freely from a wide range of modules that allow you to become proficient in all aspects of managing small-scale language analysis projects, from identifying the research questions, to communicating the findings.

The skills you develop through studying English language and linguistics—such as data analysis and critical thinking—are readily transferable to the workplace.

What modules are offered

See our current module descriptions for more information about module content.

Stage one (first year), 6 modules

Stage two (second year), 6 modules

  • At least two English language modules (e.g., Old English I, History of English II, Teaching English as a Foreign Language I)
  • Introduction to language acquisition
  • Your choice of three additional modules, including at least one of:
    • Intermediate Phonetics and Phonology
    • Intermediate Syntax
  • Choose your remaining modules from a range of English language and linguistics options. Selection may include up to two electives*.

Stage three (final year), 6 modules

  • At least two English language modules
  • Four more modules of your choice from a range of English language and linguistics options. Selection may include up to two electives*.

A wide range of choices is offered in the final year, including modules such as English Corpus Linguistics, Language in Action, Forensic Phonetics, Psycholinguistics, Formal Syntactic Theory, Bilingualism, Neurolinguistics. See our current final-year offerings for a typical full range. (Note that module offerings vary from year to year. Not every module is offered every year.)

*An elective is a module from another department. All electives are offered subject to departmental approval and timetable availability. Certain language courses offered by Languages for All (LFA) may also be taken as electives, but there are restrictions on which LFA levels can be taken in which stage of your degree. Ask us for details.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module. This covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.

This module will:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct;
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work;
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts;
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.


How you'll be taught

Our focus at York is on individual learning: we believe that effective learning happens best through a combination of presentation of the core content in the classroom followed by individual or small-group reflection and consolidation. Modes of teaching and dissemination vary over the degree, to meet the demands of each stage. Together, the different teaching formats equip you to be an effective independent learner.

  • First year: Everyone arrives knowing English, but in-depth linguistic analysis of the English language will be new to you, so the first year focuses on learning the tools of linguistic study. We facilitate this through large lectures (some with over 100 students), accompanied by set work to put your new skills into practice. Regular back-up sessions in smaller groups (15–20 students) provide opportunities to discuss progress, resolve problems, and expand upon the set exercises.
  • Second year: Modules typically have more interactive classroom activities, such as group presentations or practical sessions, in addition to lectures. Weekly seminars for each module provide a forum for discussion of core knowledge and its application beyond the specific classroom topic. Advance preparation for seminar discussion is essential, and may include library-based research.
  • Final year: Most teaching takes place in smaller groups. The key content of some modules revolves around substantial reading lists of primary research papers that will challenge and stimulate. Other modules are lab-based, involving phonetic or grammatical analysis of corpora. You'll still go to lectures, but students may take a primary role in presenting the content, through reports on a topic researched in advance.  Students may opt to write a dissertation, and will receive individual supervision on their dissertation project.

A high amount of independent research is encouraged, with the staff always on hand to guide you if you feel like you're getting lost! It's this that really made the degree work for me.

Emily, BA English Language and Linguistics, 2012

All of our modules have associated Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) sites where all crucial materials—reading lists, handouts, discussion boards—are always accessible via the internet. Most first-year modules provide additional self-study practice exercises on the VLE.

Some modules have lab-based seminars for developing skills in various kinds of linguistic analysis software, or for accessing electronic corprora of linguistic data. We have our own departmental e-Lab for the teaching and study time of our students.

How much study time is expected?

Throughout the course, you will typically spend 12 hours per teaching week in the classroom. You should expect to devote at least 30 additional hours a week to independent study, which will include completing set exercises, reading and digesting assigned papers, researching projects, writing and revising coursework, and preparing for assessments. Twice a year, in the middle of the autumn and spring terms, we have a reading week, which is devoted to independent study. You will receive guidance on your goals for each reading week.

Overall workload

As a guide, students on this course typically spend their time as follows:

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Lectures and seminars228 hours156 hours156 hours

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

The rest of your time on the course will be spent on independent study. This may include preparation for lectures and seminars, follow-up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision. Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours will vary from person to person. In UK higher education the expectation is that full-time students will spend 1200 hours a year learning.


How you'll be assessed

The main assessment types on the English Language and Linguistics degree are exams and coursework. Within these two broad types you will encounter many variations customised to the content of each module. Types of coursework range from short sets of exercises, to 5,000-word essays, to group projects in which you work in a team to research and present a topic. Some of our advanced phonetics or phonology modules require spoken (oral) or listening (aural) skills, and may include oral and aural assessments. In most modules, the final mark is made up of the marks from more than one type of assessment.

What about practice or 'mock' assessments?

At York, assessments that count towards your final mark are called 'summative' assessments, but all modules also include 'formative' work — work that will help you to practice or develop skills for the summative assessment. Some modules (particularly in the first year) include a formative exam midway through the year. Other modules include formative exercises, a formative essay, or some opportunity to get feedback on the development and progress of a piece of summative work.

What kind of feedback will I get?

Instructors provide feedback in a variety of forms, according to the needs of the specific module. It may consist of written feedback on work that you have handed in, in-class discussion of common problems on a particular assignment, model answers, one-on-one discussion of research projects, or online responses to questions posted on the module discussion board.

Adjustments for students with disabilities

We can make appropriate adjustments to assessment procedures for students with disabilities. See the University's disability support pages for further details.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Written exams60%59%37%
Practical exams0%3%3%

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.


Careers and employability

Effective communication, critical thinking and project management skills are central to most careers. The study of English language and linguistics at York equips you with these skills and others, which translate readily into any work context.

Our graduates

Our graduates have an excellent record of pursuing fulfilling paths after graduation.

Apart from their understanding of the English language and their knowledge of linguistics, our alumni have the confidence and skills that come from successfully completing a demanding course and participating fully in university life.

Career paths

There are specialist careers that lead directly from an English language and linguistics degree, after additional postgraduate training, including:

  • teaching (primary and secondary)
  • clinical linguistics (Speech and Language Therapy)
  • forensic linguistics (including Forensic Speech Science)
  • teaching English as a foreign language
  • academic research and higher/further education

Our graduates are not limited to these specialist paths, however. Ongoing contact with our alumni well after graduation shows that they are equipped to pursue rewarding careers across a broad range of professional fields, including:

  • marketing and communications
  • publishing
  • broadcasting and journalism
  • local government and public service
  • finance and accountancy
  • and many more ...

Find out more about how we can help make you more employable 


How to apply

All applications must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Prospective applicants should also read through the university's Undergraduate Prospectus. You can choose to view the prospectus online, download a PDF copy, or request a printed version.

Visit our department

We run a series of Open Days and Visit Days throughout the year, which will provide you with an opportunity to visit the University and the Department and talk to staff about the courses and your interests. We also have an undergraduate admissions tutor who is happy to answer any questions you may have.

International students

We welcome applications from international applicants, who wish to join the growing body of international students in our Department.

Entry requirements

A levels

Our typical offer is AAB, but some ABB offers will be made (see our typical offers page). We do not require any specific subject choices at A Level, and include all subjects in our standard offer.

International Baccalaureate

35/34 points

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers


Irish Leaving Certificate



BTEC National Diploma or QCF BTEC Extended Diploma with DDD.

European Baccalaureate

80% overall average

Other qualifications

Pre-U: D3,D3,M2

Access to HE: Obtain Access to HE Diploma with 36 credits at Distinction and 9 credits at Merit or higher

EPQ: If you achieve a C or higher at EPQ, you will be eligible for a reduced offer, one grade below our typical offer.

Other qualifications are accepted by the University, please contact Undergraduate Admissions

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in all units
  • Pearson PTE Academic: 61 overall with 51 in all parts
  • Cambridge Advanced English (CAE): grade A
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): grade C
  • GCSE/O level English Language (as a first language): grade C

See also the University's information page for English language requirements.

Other options for this subject

If you want to study English literature alongside linguistics, see our English and Linguistics course. You may include some English language modules on this course.

You can also include English language modules on our Linguistics course, which additionally allows you to try a new language in the first year.

The following courses also include linguistics:

Any questions?

Feel free to contact our admissions tutors:

Dr Tamar Keren-Portnoy,
Dr Ann Taylor

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